Q-Score is a modern scale, measuring familiarity by survey questions ranging from ‘Never-Heard-Of’ to ‘One-Of-My-Favorites’. It judges the appeal of brands, celebrities, and companies. Using logic and the opinions of several close friends, I theorized which ancient Roman god or goddess had the highest Q-Score.
As a pagan society, Rome readily adopted the gods of conquered people as the Empire grew. But my research centered on the mid-Republic period at the start of the First Punic War. As such, the Roman gods, and goddesses I looked at were from tribes on the Italian Peninsula.
Before battles, soldiers in the Legions made sacrifices. They acknowledged the gods of fighting men: Mars – the God of War, Victoria – the Goddess of Victory, and Jupiter – the Sky Father & His Thunderbolts.
On the other hand, Neptune – God of the Sea, would be the farthest thing from the minds of Legionaries in garrisons or farmers working their fields. Instead, soldiers and farmers were concerned about the gods that had powers over their weekly lives: Fortūna – the Goddess of Luck, and Bacchus – the God of Wine. Or, if they faced the possibility of death, Hades – the God of the Underworld. While powerful contenders, none carried the recognition required to win this survey.
At the height of the Roman Empire, the city of Rome had a population of around one million people and the Empire covered 2.2 million square miles. 220 years earlier, the city’s residents numbered around eighty thousand. The Legion wasn’t a full-time standing army, they barely controlled the peninsula up to Tuscany, and most of the citizens were engaged in agriculture.
Eliminated for their dependence on congested commercial centers were Athena – the Goddess of Wisdom, Craftsmen & Fortifications, Vulcan – the God of Metalworking & the Forge, Somnus – the God of Sleep, (insomnia in a city environment is not a modern invention), and Concordia – the Goddess of Agreement. While each would be called upon for specific circumstances, they would not hold high priorities. Thus, urban deities better suited to densely populated areas ranked low for their Q-Score.
We find that the well-known gods and goddesses from history and those taught by scholars also rated low in my scoring. While they may have had impressive temples, as witnessed by surviving ruins, they would not have been as important to citizens in rural areas.
Most of ancient Romans worked in agriculture. Tellus – the Goddess of the Earth was embraced daily by farmers. And while plowing the fields, farmworkers constructed walls along their borders with stones they unearthed. These structures made Terminus – the God of Boundary Markers important. However, the country god and goddess may not have been called upon by people in cities and towns. As such, they were not likely candidates for a high Q-Score.
Generally, gods and goddesses that dealt with the human condition seemed likelier choices for high Q-Scores: Orbona – Goddess of Children and Birth, Algea – the Goddess of Pain, Furor – the God of Insanity, and Coalemus – the God of Stupid were identifiable to residents in towns and in the country. But people would not have called on those deities every day.
What god of ancient Rome had followers from farm fields to city squares? From fishermen to lawyers, from craftsmen to laborers?
Let us consider a deity known to everyone from birth to death. One who was thought about daily in sickness and in health. A powerful deity all the citizens of the ancient Republic knew about, talked about, and acknowledged. Plus, the city of Rome was famous for the temple built to the god with the highest Q-Score.
It’s not a stretch to imagine a Legionary asking his NCO, “Where have you been, Optio?”
“At the latrines, leaving a sacrifice. And a grand one it was.”
Or consider the farmer spreading manure and thanking the God for the nutrients that made his crops grow. Knowing this, which ancient God had the highest Q-Score?
The Roman God of Poo tops them all. He was Sterculius – God of Feces. And his temple? The complex system of stone sewers under the streets of Rome. The sewer built to honor the god were easily the largest temple in the ancient world.
Thank you for reading about my unscientific survey. May Voluptas – the Goddess of Enjoyment & Delight grant you a good day.
Ancient gods and goddesses are often mentioned during everyday conversations in my Roman adventure series, Clay Warrior Stories. Set in the framework of the First Punic War, the books go farther than historical fiction. They are adventure stories designed to make you want to strap on a shield, grab a gladius, and join a combat line.
J. Clifton Slater
I am J. Clifton Slater and I write Military Adventure both Future and Ancient.
The question of how the Legionaries heard commands while in combat came to me while doing research for my historical adventure series. The Clay Warrior Stories are books set in the framework of the First Punic War. They are epic tales designed to make you want to strap on a shield, grab a gladius, and join a Century’s battle line.
Available on Amazon.com in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited.
Clay Warrior Stories
Set in the backdrop of the 1st Punic War, the books tell the tales of a hot-headed young swordsman in the growing Republic.
The Clay Warrior Stories are Available at Amazon.com in paperback, on Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited.