Indigitamenta: Ceres’ helper gods & other Agrarian Deities

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Ancient Romans believed that agricultural deities controlled all facets of crop production, including planting, harvesting, and storage.

These include prominent deities like Ceres and Saturn, but a significant portion of the numerous Roman deities with names either supported farming or were entirely focused on a particular agricultural role.

Varro lists a total of twelve deities at the outset of his book on farming, all of whom are important to the industry. These belong to a philosophical or theological grouping; they have not all been linked to a cult. There are six of them: MinervaVenus, JupiterTellus, SolLuna, CeresLiber, RobigusFlora, and LymphaBonus Eventus.

Related article: Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome

The twelve Ceres’ helper god (Indigimenta)

Invoked during the “cereal rite” (sacrum cereale) in honor of Ceres and Tellus were twelve specialist gods known only by their names, the Indigitamenta. The names of the twelve, which all end in -tor, are all male. However, despite the fact that their gender suggests they are not parts of the two goddesses who were the sacrum’s primary receivers, their names are only “simple appellatives” for linguistic duties. Just before the Feriae Sementivae, the ritual was held. Their names were invoked during the Cerealia.

Vervactor, “He who ploughs”
Reparator, “He who prepares the earth”
Imporcitor, “He who ploughs with a wide furrow”
Insitor, “He who plants seeds”
Obarator, “He who traces the first ploughing”
Occator, “He who harrows”
Serritor, “He who digs”
Subruncinator, “He who weeds”
Messor, “He who reaps”
Conuector (Convector), “He who carries the grain”
Conditor, “He who stores the grain”
Promitor, “He who distributes the grain”

Related article: Sterquilinus

Featured image: Central part of a large floor mosaic, from a Roman villa in Sentinum (Sassoferrato, in Marche, Italy), ca. 200–250 C.E. Aion, the god of eternity, is standing inside a celestial sphere decorated with zodiac signs, in between a green tree and a bare tree (summer and winter, respectively). Sitting in front of him is the mother-earth goddess, Tellus (the Roman counterpart of Gaia) with her four children, who possibly represent the four seasons.

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