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The God Jupiter
Jupiter is the Roman god of the sky and storms and the patron of ironworkers. He is also a patron of soldiers. Most legends parallel Him with the Greek king of the Gods, Zeus. He is one of a triad of high Gods, which includes Quirinus and Mars, and He is also part of the triad of Gods that includes Juno and Minerva.
The oak is Sacred to him.
On April 23, the Romans celebrated Vinalia Priora, a festival of wine dedicated to Jupiter. Wine made from the previous year's harvest was offered to Him, then the new wine could be consumed by men. It was followed on August 19 with another Vinalia, the Vinalia Rustica, when protection for the fermenting wines was asked for.
Rome's oldest and most famous Games were held from September 5-19 in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. The Ludi Romani or Magni, as they were known were originally celebrated on September 13, but were so popular that days were added to them until the Games took up ten full days in the late Republic. By the early empire, they lasted 15 and a 16th day was added in honor of Julius Caesar after his death. Prior to 366BCE, they were held only when voted as a triumph, but after that they were held annually. The Games began with a solemn procession that began at His temple on the Capitol and went through the Foreum and ended at the Circus Maximus. The procession was elaborate. Young men on horseback or on foot lead the procession with charioteers following behind. Then came the competing athletes and then groups of dancers garbed in red and wearing bronze helmets and belts and carrying swords. They marched to the music of flute and lute players. Men dressed as satyrs came next, then more musicians and then men carrying inscince and gold and silver cups. Then statues of the twelve Olympian deities were borne on stretchers at shoulder height. Other, deified mortals had statues of them represented in this procession as well. The Consuls presided over the priests who washed their hands and purified the sacrificial oxen with clear water. An assistant struck the oxen on the temple with a club so it would fall over onto the sacrificial knives held by other assistants. The sacrifice was carved up and select pieces taken to the priests who put them on the altars and burned them while pouring wine over them.
The Games themselves began with a biathlon of sorts. A chariot race (of four-horse and two-horse chariots) followed immediately by a footrace that ran the length of the stadium. The first across the finish line won the event. Then there were contests of running, boxing and wrestling. Then another horse race where a single rider would leap back and forth between the backs of two horses, reigned together. Occasionally a military equestrian event was held (Ludus Troiae). Two groups of youth were dressed up in armor and performed mounted parade drills before performing a mock battle. Then there were seven lap (5 mile) chariot races around the Circus Maximus. These fifteen-minute races were very dangerous and required great skill to maneuver around the tight, central turning points. The competing chariots belonged to four factionsRed, Blue, Green and Whiteand there was tremendous rivalry between these factions. Supporters of these teams were much like modern football or soccer fans in their loyalty and enthusiasm and fights often broke out. There was also heavy betting on the teams.
The Circus Maximus could seat 150,000 spectators and seating was not restricted by sex, as it was in the theaters or ampetheaters, so young men and women could meet and flirt and they dressed for the occasion.
On September 13, a feast was held in honor of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. The feast began with the sacrifice of a white cow and of a second batch of the Vestal Virgins' mola salsa. The feast itself was presided over by images of the three Gods. Jupiter's face was stained red. He lay on a couch while Minerva and Juno's statues sat in chairs. A feast was laid out before them and music played, then all the members of the Senate dined together.
The Ludi Capitolini were held on October 15. Given by the College of Capitolini, these were not public Games. At the beginning of these Games, an old man with a child's bulla was lead around to mock the defeated king of Veii who had been sold off at auction with the other prisoners. These Games were held in honor of Jupiter Feretrius, whose temple (reportedly built by Romulus) was the oldest in Rome. Not much is known about these Games other than there were foot-races and fights with the men wearing gauntlets.
Jupiter is also known by the following names:
Iuppiter, Juppiter, Heru-ap-sheta-taui (Egyptian), Jove (Etruscan), Tina (Etruscan), Vediovis (an early name), Vedius, Vejovis ("Little Jupiter"), Zeus (Greek). As Jupiter Feretrius, He is "the smiter." As Jupiter Elicius He is the "lightning attractor," and as Optimus Maximus, He is the "Greatest and Best." As Jupiter Stator, hie is "the Stayer."
The following days are sacred to Him:
April 23 - Vinalia Priora
June 27 - the temple to Jupiter Stator in 294BCE
August 19 - Vinalia Rustica
September 5 - Jupiter Stator's second temple was dedicated in 146BCE.
September 5-19 - Ludi Romani
September 13 - Jupiter Optimus Maximus received His first temple on the Capitol in 509BCE.
October 4 - as Jupiter Fulgur, His shrine (which was open to the sky) on the Campus Martius was dedicated.
October 15 - Ludi Capitolini
November 13 - Feriae Iovi (a feast was held in His honor)