Fons, Fontus, the God of Wells & Springs

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Fontus or Fons was a god of wells and springs in ancient Roman religion.

A religious festival called the Fontinalia was held on October 13 in his honor. Throughout the city, fountains and wellheads were adorned with garlands. Fontus was the son of Juturna and Janus. As a god of pure water, Fons can be placed in opposition to Liber as a god of wine identified with Bacchus. An inscription includes Fons among a series of deities who received expiatory sacrifices by the Arval Brothers in 224 AD, when several trees in the sacred grove of Dea Dia, their chief deity, had been struck by lightning and burnt.

Related article:  The Mithraeum of San Clemente in Rome

Inscriptions to Fons Perennis (also known as “Eternal Spring” or “Never-Failing Stream”), a source of regeneration that played a part in the Mithraic rituals, have been discovered in Mithraea. The deity hits a rock in a Mithraic cycle scene, causing the rock to erupt in water. According to a Mithraic literature, the brook provided drinkable water that might prolong life. Mithraic narrative ritual dedications to “inanimate beings,” such Fons Perennis and Petra Genetrix (“Generative Rock”), describe them as divine and hearing, similar to the nymphs and healing forces to whom these are more frequently made.

Featured image: Votive altar dedicated to the Divine Fontes

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