Terrestrial Gods

Category: Gods

1 Pages in this category

  • Adonis (Tammuz, Dumuzi) : a Syro–Mesopotamian god whose death was lamented annually across a huge swath of the ancient world, from the 3rd millennium BCE to around 1000 CE.
  • Asclepius (Imouthēs, Ešmūn, Glycon) : a healing god, or rather several healing gods sharing the name of Asclepius.
  • Attis (Gallus, Papas) : a god worshipped (with lamentation, like Adonis) and emulated by the priests of the Mother-of-Gods in Asia Minor and across the Ancient Mediterranean.
  • Dionysus (Liber) : the discoverer of wine, the most important drink of Greco-Roman culture, used in the worship of most gods.
  • Dioscuri (Castor & Pollux) : the ‘sons of Zeus’ (Dios kouroi) are most commonly a pair of twins, brothers to Helen, although the name can also refer to certain groups of local deities. Castor and Pollux (or Polydeuces) are invoked before battle and when ships are in a storm.
  • Ephialtes (Incubo) : Ephialtes was seen as similar or identical to Pan, but most known for causing what is now called sleep paralysis (and ephialtes in antiquity).
  • Faun(s) : Roman gods similar to, but distinct from, the Pans; in Nonnus, Faunus appears as a Satyr.
  • Heracles (Hercules, Šantaš, Melqart) : an averter of evil, said to have made the world safe for humanity by destroying monstrous beasts.
  • Pan(s) : a goat-legged god of the wilderness and herd animals, sometimes rather understood as a group or class of daemons.
  • Priapus : a daemon or god watching over orchards, whose primary attribute is his large erect phallus.
  • Quirinus (Kyrinos) : a Roman daemon or god set over warfare. According to some, he was once Romulus, the founder of Rome.
  • Satyrs and Sileni : rambunctious daemons in the company of Dionysus, with the legs of horses as Pans have the legs of goats. Silenus is the name of a senior Satyr (or elder Satyrs in general).
  • Silvanus : a god of the woods worshipped across the Latin-speaking world, sometimes identified with Pan.
  • Telesphorus : a healing god, a son of Asclepius according to some.
  • Virbius : a local god of the Romans, who was said to be Hippolytus, famed in Greek myth, brought back to life by Asclepius.

2 About this category

According to myth, many of these gods once lived as humans on Earth, including (but not limited to) Adonis, Asclepius, Attis, Dionysus, the Dioscuri, Helen and Heracles. A few, especially Heracles, are therefore also worshipped as heroes. Others are sometimes counted as daemons, long-lived but still mortal, especially the Fauns, Pans and Satyrs, as well as the Nymphs which I have grouped under Water Gods.

But there are not only daemons and heroes ‘upon the Earth’ (as the Greek epigeios, ‘terrestrial’, may also be translated), but also gods, whom moderns are more accustomed to see as either heavenly or chthonic, as if this binary were all-encompassing. In the Taxonomy of Artemidorus, they include the following:

“Of the terrestrial ones, Hekate, Pan, Ephialtes, and Asclepius are perceptible – although Asclepius is also called intelligible –, while the Dioscuri, Heracles, Dionysus, Hermes, Nemesis, Vulgar (Pándēmos) Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Fortune, Peitho (‘persuasion’), the Graces, the Horae, the Nymphs and Hestia are intelligible.”

In order to avoid overencumbering SARTRIX’ navigation, I have placed many of these deities in different categories that also have a claim to them; while with others that are included here, it is only on the basis of analogy, because no ancient source explicitly groups them. In other words, my classifications are pragmatic, not a judgment on which category a deity most belongs to.

In terms of worship, terrestrial gods are sometimes treated as heavenly, sometimes as chthonic, at other times as something else that may have distinct features or combine heavenly and chthonic elements (see, e.g., Apollon’s Taxonomy). But these complexities can only be understood gradually, and should not stand in the way of simply worshipping.

Status: completed (July 2022).