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Les cultes polythéistes dans l’Adriatique romaine

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Christiane Delplace
, 
Francis Tassaux

Les antécédents

Sacred Places and Epichoric Gods in the Southern Alpine Area - Some Aspects

Marjeta Šašel-Kos

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Geographical background

  • 1 See the articles in: Schauer (ed.) 1996.
  • 2 Teržan (ed.) 1995, 1996; see also Turk 1997, 49-52.

1As a result of more extensive settlement, the southeastern Alpine area became a region of more sophisticated culture in the late Bronze Age, than previously. At this time and place, as elsewhere in Europe1, the existence of several sacred places may be assumed where worship of various divinities and divine powers was manifested more intensively than elsewhere2. These regions may have then been colonized by the prehistoric tribes for the first time to a greater extent than earlier; they certainly did not settle in a void since an earlier settlement is well reflected by late Neolithic archaeological material. The area usually described as the southeastern Alpine area is extremely heterogeneous, and not only geographically. It comprises regions extending from the Karst hinterland of Aquileia and Tergeste to the hilly lowlands along the Dravus (Drava) River and the Pannonian Plain, beginning east of Poetouio (Ptuj). It includes Carinthia in the north, as well as Dolenjska in Bela Krajina (Lower and White Carniola) in the south.

  • 3 Šašel 1989 (1992), 57-73 (690-706); Tóth 1980, 80-88; cf. also Fitz 1993, 126.

2Politically, these regions were never homogeneous either. During the Hallstatt period, several relatively well defined different cultural groups flourished in the southeastern Alpine area, from the Venetic influenced Most na Soči (= Santa Lucia) cultural group and the Castellieri group in the west to the Inner Carniolan, Carinthian and Styrian cultural groups, as well as a particularly rich Lower Carniolan in the south. The pre-Celtic inhabitants remain anonymous, although later authors, notably Appian, Cassius Dio, and others use the general name of Illyrians for them. This merely reflected the administrative usage, since Illyricum was the official name of the later provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia until the reign of Vespasian3. During the (late) La Tène period a new political entity, the Norican kingdom, was formed, with the centre in Carinthia. The kingdom represented a loose (con)federation of the neighbouring Celtic tribes which, during its greatest expansion when it reached the Danube and Balaton, extended also over much of the Tauriscan territory south of the Karavanke Alps, while over some of it the kingdom exercised a more or less strong influence. Under the Roman dominion, southeastern Alpine regions belonged administratively to three different units: the 10th Italic region and the provinces of Noricum and Pannonia (fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Geographic and administrative situation of the area.

Lacus Timaui

  • 4 Cuscito 1989, 61-127; Vedaldi Iasbez 1994, 160-177 and 180-181; Verzár-Bass 1991, 255-260; Fontana (...)
  • 5 Grilli 1991, 15-44, where he also refers to the legend of Diomedes. See more about Diomedes in the (...)

3People may believe in one divinity over a thousand years, and certain places to which a sacred character was ascribed may be venerated for long generations, their origins lost in the mythic past. An ancient sanctuary existed at Lacus Timaui, where an old female divinity may have originally been worshipped; according to Polybius, the course of the Timauus from where it reemerges from the earth was called by the local inhabitants “the mother and origin of the sea” (Polyb. in Strabo 5.1.8 C 214:... τoὺς ἐπιχωρίpυς πηγὴν ĸαὶ μητέρα τῆς θαλάττης ὀνoμάζειν τòv τόπov). However, Lacus Timaui, where the river god Timavus himself was also worshipped, was later known after the sanctuary of Diomedes (Strabo, ibid.)4. This is an indication of the interest of Greek explorers and merchants in the northern Adriatic area, and a certain knowledge of the coast and its immediate hinterland5. However, female divinities, too, were venerated in close proximity, since it is further noted by Strabo in connection with the sanctuary of Diomedes that the Argive Hera and Aetolian Artemis, apparently Venetic female deities with features similar to those of the Greek goddesses, had their cults and sacred groves somewhere in the northern Adriatic area (5.1.9 C 215).

  • 6 Grassl 1982, 245-252, especially 251.
  • 7 Grassl 1988, 11-14.
  • 8 Egg 1996; see also Gleirscher 1993, 89-94; the cult should rather be explained in terms of an Artem (...)

4The goddess of hunting and nature, similar to Artemis / Diana, was widely venerated also among the Celts. Thus Arrian, who had himself visited Noricum in the retinue of the Emperor Hadrian, and whose report may refer to the Norican Celts, described how some of the Celts would sacrifice annually to Artemis, organizing a big party during which they would also crown their dogs with wreaths6. He goes on to say that they would buy a sacrificial animal, a sheep, a goat, or a cow, with money that they had been saving for this feast over the whole year. A bounty would be paid into the treasury of the goddess for each animal they caught, the least for a rabbit, the most for a deer (Kyn, 34.1-3: Kελτῶν δὲ ἔστιν oἷς νόμoς, ĸαὶ ἐνιαύασια θύειν τῇ ρτέμιδι · o δὲ ĸαὶ θησαυρὸν ἀπoδειĸνύoυσιν τῇ θεῷ·... περιελθόντoς δὲ τoυς ἔτoυς ὁπόταν [τὰ] λενέθλια ĸ τῆς ρτέμιδoς, ἀνoίγνυται µv θησαυρός, ἀπὸ δὲ τo συλλεχθέντoς ἱερεῖoν ὡνoῦνται, o µv ϊν, oί δὲ αἶγα, o δὲ μόσχoν, εἰ oὕτω πρoχωρo. θύσαντες δὲ ĸαὶ τὸν ἱερείoν ἀπαρξάμενoι τῇ γρoτέρᾳ, ὡς ĸάστoις vόμoς, εὐωχoῦνται αὐτoί τε ĸαὶ αἱ ĸύνες....)7. A deer goddess similar to Artemis must have played an important role also in pre-Celtic Noricum, as is indicated by the cult cart from Strettweg, from c. 600 B.C., which represents a goddess (or her priestess) who received deer as a sacrifice, i.e. a kind of a “Great Nature Goddess”8.

  • 9 For Minerva: Mastrocinque 1987, passim; Pascal 1964, 112-113; for Mars and Apollo, see below; for H (...)
  • 10 See Šašel 1972 (1992), 135-144 (288-297), for the location of the Ambisontes in the Soča / Isonzo v (...)
  • 11 Osmuk 1987, 57-79. During the first few excavations campaigns, three statues of Apollo were discove (...)
  • 12 Càssola Guida 1989, 62-63 no 20; cf. Ead. 1978, 59-60, no 44 and 45.
  • 13 Osmuk 1997, 14.

5The origin of the epichoric goddesses and gods in the area here studied – as also elsewhere – was different. Populations changed through centuries with the arrival of new settlers, while the old deities conceivably were often accepted by the new-comers. They, in turn, brought their own conceptions of the divine with them, which blended in one way or another with what they found in their new homeland. More or less well accepted, Romanization was occasionally resisted, but sometimes even strived-for; inevitably, however, it contributed new ideas which, to a certain extent, reshaped the old beliefs of the pre-Roman population. It may well be assumed that epichoric divinities are sometimes concealed not only by the name of Diana, but also Minerva (Reitia), Mars (Latobius, Marmogius), Apollo (Belinus, Grannus), and Hercules (e.g. honoured together with Epona), whose worship is well attested in the southeastern Alpine area9. It is thus not surprising to find in an important epichoric Romanized settlement at Kobarid (possibly of the Ambisontes?10, in the valley of the Soca /Isonzo (Aesontium), several small bronze cult statues (until the present, altogether 26 have been discovered) originating from various periods, mainly from the 1st century b.c. and a.d.11, Some may even be from as early as the 2nd century b.c.12. No doubt they originate from a sanctuary and represent precisely these gods, along with Venus, who is also known to have been equated with an epichoric divinity in the north Adriatic area. This is shown, for example, by the cults of Venus Anzotica in Liburnia, or Iria Venus in Histria. Bronze figurines representing Hercules wearing a crown of leaves arranged as sun rays are of particular interest (fig. 2). The traits depicted are similar to other statuettes of Hercules found in regions where, archaeologically, the Venetic cultural group predominated. Likewise, they are similar to the figurines of warriors ready for attack, and those of servants, wearing similar crowns, one of which was also found at Kobarid13.

Fig. 2: A bronze statuette of Heracles from Kobarid (from: Osmuk 1997, 13).

  • 14 Adam 1991, 60-64; cf. also Osmuk 1997, 14.
  • 15 Pauli 1986, 825-827.
  • 16 Osmuk 1997, 15.

6Some of these were most probably produced locally under the influence of figurines imported from central Italy. They reflect the beliefs of the epichoric populations in their own divinity, in which they recognized certain similarities with Hercules14. Similarly, worship of Apollo, whose statuettes were found at Kobarid, found resonance in the Venetic world where Belinus /Belenus, occasionally identified with Apollo, enjoyed great popularity, especially at Aquileia. In the sanctuary at Làgole near Calalzo di Cadore, Apollo may have supplanted the local Trumusijat(is)15. A deeply rooted tradition of a sacred place at Kobarid is reflected in the fact that as late as 1331, the Cividale (Čedad) Chapter organized an armed expedition to cut down the sacred tree and fill up the sacred spring16.

Mountain passes under the divine protection

  • 17 See most recently on Belenus / Belinus, Birkhan 1997, 582-585 and passim.
  • 18 Scherrer 1984, 182-184, 288-289.

7While some places became sacred due to omens and other chance events, such as sites stricken by a lightning bolt which were considered taboo, most of them were intimated by nature. Such were mountain passes across which travellers descended into a new, once foreign country, ottering to the divinity of the pass to secure their protection and safety. Important passes through which ancient roads and tracks led were always considered divine places, even if there is insufficient archaeological material to prove it. Offerings could have been wooden or made of other perishable materials, or perhaps they still await discovery, since small votive statues, tablets, altars, fibulas, or coins could have been deposited at various sites within the mountain pass area, not necessarily at some shrine or one precise spot. Two dedications found at Loiblpass (Ljubelj pass in the Karavanke Alps, dividing Carniola and Carinthia) and erected for Belestis Augusta by the members of the Tapponii family (CIL, III, 4773 = Leber 1972, no 194 = ILLPRON, 446; Leber 1972, no 193 = ILLPRON, 654) illustrate the assimilation with ancient cult practices. She is a Celtic deity elsewhere not attested, yet obviously characteristic of the Norici and most probably – etymologically considered – close to the much more well-known Celtic (and specifically Norican and Aquileian) Belinus / Belenus17. As such, she would have been a health bringing goddess of light; perhaps also a goddess analogous to Diana, as could be inferred from the second of her altars on which a tree and a panther are depicted, as well as an animal that could be recognized either as a bear, a lion, or a boar18. In either capacity, venerated at Loiblpass, she would have primarily been protectress of travellers across the dangerous pass. The Tapponii are documented also in Virunum where they belonged to the municipal elite, considering that their members are known to have been town magistrats. This must have been a well-to-do Norican family whose members may have been merchants, manufacturers or businessmen who probably used the mountain road to transport their goods in the direction of Emona and beyond.

8Upon leaving the territory of Celeia and descending from the southern Norican heights across the pass of Atrans (present-day Trojane) towards Italy, the ancient traveller prayed to an epichoric deity known by the name of Jupiter Culminalis; others erected an altar to the eponymous divinity of the pass of Atrans (it is not clear whether it is a goddess or a god). Thus did one Fortunatus, a superviser (uilicus) of the estates of the Norican procurator C. Antonius Rufus, who may have been employed by his master in the settlement or may have often travelled across the pass (CIL, III, 5117 = Winkler 1969, 150, no 9).

Sacred Caves

  • 19 Cf. Degrassi 1929 (1962), 166-172 (728-735), who, however, discussed the material found in the cave (...)
  • 20 Szombathy 1912, 127-190; Gabrovec 1983, 80-87; Pauli 1986, 831-833; Frelih 1992, 73-104; Turk 1994.
  • 21 Frelih 1997.
  • 22 However, the dedication on a bronze situla of the late 5th, or 4th century b.c., from the nearby Sk (...)
  • 23 See also remarks in Zaccaria 1992, 235; cf. Rossi 1992, 161-167.

9When confronted with peculiar natural phenomena, prehistoric and Roman period inhabitants often felt the close proximity of supernatural powers operating through a divinity. Such phenomena included various caves, especially those in the Karst area. One of the most famous cult places east of Lacus Timaui was undoubtedly the shaft-like cave of Musja jama (Grotta delle Mosche, Fliegenhöhle, also called Velika jama na Prevali [Jama II na Prevalu, cf. Arheološka najdišča Slovenije, 1975, 130]), as well as the nearby Skeletna jama (Grotta degli schelettri, Knochenhöhle) near Škocjan (San Canziano), and, undoubtedly, the Škocjan Caves (Grotte di S. Canziano) themselves (fig. 3)19. In the latter, the Timauus, which is called Reka (Recca) at its source at the bottom of Mt Dletvo (part of Snežnik Mt, Monte Nevoso), disappears into the earth. Musja jama (Grotta delle Mosche), some fifty meters deep and offering a “natural communication with the Underworld”, was frequented in the late Bronze and early Iron Ages, and again in the late Republican / early Augustan periods to 2nd century a.d.20. Bronze and Iron Age arms and vessels were offered to the anonymous divinity / or divinities?, possibly some chthonic deity21, or the Venetic Reitia, known most of all from Ateste22. Most of these votive objects had been ritually burnt beforehand; their origin is different, some displaying Mediterranean, some continental influences, suggesting that the sacred area of Škocjan was widely known. A legionary helmet from the Roman period, probably late Republican, was discovered in the cave, as well as a fibula of the Gallic type (c. 40 - 120 a.d.). Most likely, the broad area of the Škocjan Caves was in a certain sense regarded as holy; perhaps the base for a statue, discovered at Škocjan and dedicated to Augustus (dated to a.d. 14), with a lituus depicted on its right side (CIL, V, 852 = IIt, X, 4, 337), should be viewed in this context23.

Fig. 3: A view of the Škocjan Caves (by courtesy of the National Museum of Slovenia).

  • 24 Short preliminary reports published by Knific 1997, 234-235; Id. 1997a, 236-238.
  • 25 Bones are being identified by L. Bartosiewicz.
  • 26 Rageth 1994, 141-172.
  • 27 Noll 1980.
  • 28 Lovenjak 1997, 67-68.

10Deities, no doubt originally epichoric, were worshipped in caves elsewhere in the southeastern Alpine area. Two shrines have recently been discovered in the high hills area of Upper Carniola, i.e. within the Emona territory, at the cave shelter called Spodmol Pod grico, at Godic near Kamnik, and in the cave beneath the hill called Zicica above Moste near Zirovnica, below Stol Mt. (the region of Jesenice)24. A marshy glen leads towards the cave shelter Pod grico at Godic, across which a brook called Ribnik flows with its source in the cave shelter. Excavations that took place in 1992 and 1993 revealed that a corridor built of stone led into the cave, which is eight metres long. A great deal of bones, mainly belonging to young animals and still in the process of being analyzed, have been discovered in the cave, as well as fine pottery and oil lamps, remains of silver votive tablets, and coins from the 1st to the beginning of the 5th century a.d.25. The situation in the second cave, in which even the remains of wall plaster have come to light, is fairly similar; the majority of 32 coins are from the 3rd and 4th centuries a.d., while the latest is from the beginning of the 5th century. Excavations are still continuing, so it is not possible to make any definite statements concerning the two cult places. Their origin may be older than the earliest finds that came to light during the excavations. The name of the venerated divinity, or divinities, is not known. Recently a cave sanctuary near Zillis (the Canton of Grisons) in Switzerland has been published, which may offer a very good parallel for the two cave sanctuaries in the hills near Emona26. Altogether 550 coins, mainly late Roman, were discovered during the excavations campaign in 1991/1992; most of them belong to the period between a.d. 260 and 400, some being even slightly later. Several pieces of rock crystal, some pottery, pieces of soapstone and votive silver tablets, and some other small finds have also come to light, as well as a circular serpent-decorated vessel found crushed just outside the cave. The material finds indicate that possibly an oriental cult was practised in the cave sanctuary. The cave was intentionally filled up with gravel and clay materials, perhaps by the early Christians from Zillis. Good analogies for the votive tablets are those discovered in the sanctuary of Jupiter Dolichenus at Mauer an der Url27. It would be of no surprise to discover some time in the future that an oriental divinity was worshipped in these two caves in the late Roman period. Such was the case elsewhere, where epichoric deities had their cults at an earlier date. Such seems to have been the situation in the sanctuary of Savus and Adsalluta along the Savus River, at the Sava hamlet. Alongside nine altars erected to Savus and Adsalluta, or only to Adsalluta, a dedication to Magna Mater was found during the recent excavations of the sanctuary in 1994 – M(atri) d(eorum) m(agnae) / Cassius Restut(us) / u. s. l. m.28.

Rivers personified by venerable divinities

  • 29 Torbrügge 1972, 1-146; Hansen 1997, 29-34.

11Rivers have always been essential for man's survival for several reasons: primarily as a source of water, further as a means of traffic and trade, possibly also as a natural boundary between different regions or even countries, and sometimes as a means of defence. Worship of the rivers is attested since the late Stone Age, and the evidence for it increases markedly in the late Bronze Age29. The tradition of wanting to appease a river deity by throwing more or less precious objects into the water, especially weapons, but also objects of daily use in peace, persisted throughout the Iron Age and Roman period, and it proved extremely difficult to uproot. Even during the late antiquity, the Christian Church often issued edicts against pagans who used to pray to the trees, rivers, and stone idols.

12Rich archaeological evidence testifying to the importance of river traffic and also to a river cult has come to light from the Ljubljanica River, which may no doubt be classified as one of the most interesting rivers in the southeastern Alpine region. The river was vital for the inhabitants of Nauportus and Emona, thus it is not surprising that it had two names in the prehistoric and Roman periods, and was called both Nauportus (Pliny, N. h., 3.128) and Emona (CIL, III, 3224). Its whole course is navigable practically right from its springs, only the rapids at Fuzine at the outskirts of Ljubljana impede inland navigation. An altar dedicated to Laburus (CIL, III, 3840 + p. 2328, 188 = ILS, 4877) was discovered precisely at this dangerous site (the German name of the site was Kaltenbrun). Unfortunately it is now lost. Laburus is elsewhere unknown and was no doubt summoned to protect the boatmen when they travelled along the section of perilous rapids.

  • 30 Potočnik 1989, 387-400; Bitenc & Knific 1994, 8-11; Iid. 1997, 257-262. The entire fundus will be p (...)

13Unfortunately the archaeological finds from the Ljubljanica have not yet been properly published, thus no reliable analysis can be made on the basis of preliminary reports30. However, finds such as Bronze Age swords, axes, spears, and sickles, found between Nauportus and Podpeč some 12 km west of Ljubljana indicate that at several sites along the river, particularly at convenient points of crossing and landing, or, possibly, at dangerous places such as whirlpools or rapids, offerings were thrown into the river to placate its divinity. Several finds that may be defined as votive are from the Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as Roman and Medieval periods. Although most of the archaeological material, well attested in the late La Tène and Roman periods, may reflect the lively traffic mentioned by Strabo (4.6.10 C 207 and 7.5.2 C 314), part of it could certainly be interpreted as votive offerings which, however, will never quite disclose the fears, hopes, and wishes of the dedicants.

  • 31 See most recently on Timauus: Buora & Zaccaria 1989, 309-311; Lettich 1994, 39, no 11.
  • 32 Alföldi 1931, 47, no 14 and 2; Webb 19722, Probus no 764-766.
  • 33 Šašel 1980, 61-66.

14Many of the river deities are epigraphically attested. Although some rivers in the Celtic world were personified by female divinities, such as the Gallic Sequana, the goddess of the river Seine, or the Spanish river goddess Navia / Nabia, the rivers in the northern Adriatic regions, as well as the southeastern Alpine and Pannonian areas were always worshipped as male deities. Dedications to river gods were fairly common, and divine worship is epigraphically documented for almost all important rivers between the Po and the Danube. The Po River was worshipped as Padus pater (ILS, 3903). A number of dedications were erected to Timauus (the Timavo / Timava River)31. Aesontius, the personification of the Isonzo (Soca) River, was venerated at Pons Sonti in the territory of Aquileia (present-day Mainizza [Slov. Majnica] near Gradisca [Gradiška], Inscr. Aquil. 96), the above mentioned Laburus at the section of rapids in the Ljubljanica River, and Savus, who had a sanctuary together with Adsalluta at the Sava hamlet in the Celeia area (see below). The cult of the river god Savus is documented at three more sites along the river Sava: at Vernek near Kresnice in the region of Emona (CIL, III, 3896 = Šašel Kos 1997, no 95), at Andautonia (the present-day Ščitarjevo, ALL 475 = ILS, 3908/9), as well as at Siscia (present-day Sisak) on a lead curse tablet (AIJ, 557 = Vetter 1960.127-132). Here Savus was invoked to harm adversaries – obviously merchants who had travelled along the river – in a law suit. The importance of Savus is further reflected in the fact that he was represented together with Colapis (the god of the river Kolpa / Kupa: the Kupa joins the Sava in Siscia, hence the identification of both river gods is certain) on coins minted in Siscia as late as the reign of Gallienus32. Providence has preserved two small dedications honouring a small stream of the Voglajna (Celeia region), Aquo33. Dravus (AIJ, 267, 268) was worshipped together with Danubius at Tenja near Osijek (Mursa: CIL, III, 10263) and perhaps at Poetouio (AIJ, 266). Danubius was also worshipped alone (ILS, 3911 = CIL, III, 3416), as well as together with Jupiter, Neptune, Salacea, and the unknown Agaunus (CIL, III, 14359, 27, from Vindobona).

  • 34 Šašel Kos 1994, 99-122, where earlier literature is cited.
  • 35 See the commentary in Šašel Kos 1994.

15Although the Savinja River flowing through Celeia (Celje), one of the largest Tauriscan towns, was an important navigable river, its ancient hydronym is not known. However, it certainly was not Adsalluta, despite the fact that it has often been identified with this name34. As a local Celtic deity, Adsalluta should be considered a Tauriscan goddess. She was certainly affiliated with water, as is indicated mainly by the dedications erected to her and to Savus, her divine companion, as well as by the altar set up by L. Servilius Eutyches with his helmsmen. She protected merchants and other travellers who utilized river transport along the dangerous rapids between Hrastnik and Zidani Most. She may have also been connected with a particular spring existing in the near vicinity of her sanctuary, and with a supposed sacred grove within its area. A narrow towpath led along the right bank of the Savus, possibly through her grove, to help tow boats upstream through the rapids35.

  • 36 Pick 1911, 172-174, tab. IV.

16The Savinja River, however, played a major role in the economy of Celeia during the Principate and later, although at the same time it menaced the settlement with frequent flooding. Thus it is not surprising that the river god Neptune, a more universal deity, was worshipped publicly by a dedication erected to him by (all) the inhabitants of Celeia (CIL, III, 5197). The monument to Neptune, like those to other river deities, is an eloquent testimony of traffic and trade along the river systems. Dedications to Neptune are relatively frequent. An inscription commemorating the construction of a sanctuary and a portico of Neptune was found at Bistra near Nauportus. It was erected by a merchant from Aquileia, L. Servilius Sabinus, inscribed in the voting-tribe of Velina, typical of the Aquileian citizens (CIL, III, 3778). A sacred grove may have existed in antiquity at Bistra, a site rich with streams and pools, probably earlier than the sanctuary of Neptune. Three further dedications to Neptune have been found at Emona on the Ljubljanica (CIL, III, 3841, 10765, 13400). An association of boatmen was also documented at Emona (collegium nauiculariorum, AIJ, 178). The importance of the Ljubljanica for river transport until the last century is well illustrated by the existence of two guilds of boatmen in Ljubljana, for both large and small craft36. Two further dedications to Neptune are known from sites along the Sava. One was discovered directly across from the sanctuary of Adsalluta at Klembas (or Klempas) near Hrastnik (CIL, III, 5137) and one, dedicated to Neptune Ouianus, near the confluence of the Sauus and Corcoras (present-day Krka) Rivers, beneath the village of Catez in the ager of Neuiodunum (CIL, III, 14354, 22). Like at Čatež, Neptune must have sometimes assumed the role of local water deities also elsewhere.

Sanctuaries on the heights – Grannus and Latobius

  • 37 Gleirscher 1996, 429-449.
  • 38 Lippert 1992, 285-304.
  • 39 Glaser 1993, 289-295.
  • 40 Glaser 1980, 121-125 (Birkhan 1980, 125-127); Glaser 1992, 62 no 42.
  • 41 Glaser 1980, 121-125; Birkhan 1980, 125-127; for Grannus in Noricum, see also Scherrer 1984, 102-10 (...)

17Sacred places, often on high hills and mountains, where burnt sacrifices were performed, have a Bronze Age tradition in the Alpine area in general, but also in the eastern Alpine region37. An interesting prospect would be such holy sites at which continuity would have been attested at least from the late Iron Age through to the Roman period. Such a sacrificial place has erroneously been postulated at Teurnia near Spittal on the Drava (Drau) River, on the eastern slope of the hilly settlement of St. Peter in Holz38. This theory was refuted by the correct interpretation of the old finds as well as by the results of the recent excavations39. The earliest phase of the settlement at St. Peter in Holz dates to the age of the Urnfield culture and it prospered throughout the Iron Age and Roman period, its importance having increased in the late antiquity. Although the continuity of prehistoric cult practices has not yet been attested archaeologically, there is no doubt that Grannus Apollo, whose cult, and even sanctuary, is documented in the Roman town, was worshipped there also in the La Tène period. An inscription on a marble slab (inscribed on both sides with the same text) dedicated to Grannus Apollo was discovered on the eastern terrace of the settlement40. Not far away, seventy metres west of the site where the dedication was found, a spring of excellent drinking water is known to have flowed from the peak of the hill, even during the summer, all until 1952, when an asphalt road was built and the spring was directed away from it by means of a drainage channel. The spring and the dedication are no doubt mutually related. The dedication is most interesting since a naualis (aedes?) is mentioned in it, built by one Lollius Trophimus and Lollia Probata after having fulfilled their vows41.

  • 42 Egger 1927, 4-20; Scherrer 1984, 249-251.
  • 43 Leber 1972, no 256.
  • 44 Glaser 1980, 121-125; Birkhan 1980, 125-127.
  • 45 Cf. Birkhan 1997, 621.

18The same word, nauale, is also used to describe a cult building, actually a sanctuary of the Gallo-Roman type, for the epichoric god Latobius, worshipped at Burgstall near St. Margarethen im Lavanttal42. His sanctuary was restored by C. Speratius Vibius and Valeria Avita for the welfare of their children43. It is not entirely clear, how to explain the expression nauale, but according to F. Glaser and H. Birkhan, it seems most plausible to identify it with a kind of a sun carriage in the form of a “sun ship”44. It would have been displayed in the sanctuary which would have been for this reason referred to as nauale. Grannus Apollo was predominantly a god with healing powers, not unlike the Roman Apollo who first came to Rome in 433 b.c. due to a recommendation of the Sibylline Books to avert the plague (Livy 4.25.3). This is well in accordance with what Caesar said about the Celtic Apollo: Post hunc [Mercurium] Apollinem et Mortem et Iouem et Mineruam. De his eandem fere quam reliquae gentes habent opinionem: Apollinem morbos depellere... (Bell. Gall. 6.17.2), and is particularly true of Grannus, since Cassius Dio mentioned that the emperor Caracalla sought in vain a remedy for his neurosis in the sanctuaries of Apollo Grannus, Asclepius, and Serapis (77.15). He may have been regarded a sungod, which would not be too surprising in view of the often polyvalent nature of the Celtic gods, especially considering that the curing effects of the sun would accord well with his main function of healing45. However, the word nauale for a sanctuary may perhaps also symbolically reflect the importance of water in the cult practices connected with the worship of Grannus Apollo and Latobius.

  • 46 Cf. Birkhan 1997, 639 and n. 7.
  • 47 For Neuiodunum see Lovenjak 1996; for Praetorium Latobicorum: Šašel Kos 1995, 149-170.
  • 48 Scherrer 1984, 169; 481-482; see, however, Pauli 1986, 830-831 and Birkhan 1997, 639.
  • 49 Scherrer 1984, 175.

19As is indicated by the extant dedications containing the pro incolumitate and pro salute formulas, Latobius must have also been predominantly a god with healing powers, since his worshippers regarded him as a guardian of their welfare. His name may possibly mean “one who can strike far”, although there are other explanations of the name46. He was the god of a tribe, his name being closely connected with that of the Latobici, a Celtic people settled in Lower Carniola around their two main urban centres, the municipium Flauium Latobicorum Neuiodunum and Praetorium Latobicorum, an important road station and station of the beneficiarii consularis47. There, however, no dedications to Latobius have as yet come to light. The best explanation for the worship of the god in Lavanttal and at Flauia Solua (elsewhere he is not attested, as the dedication on the rock at the sacred site in the gorge at Kienbachklamm near Bad Ischl is almost certainly not genuine, and therefore cannot be used as evidence48) is the hypothesis that part of the tribe of the Latobici, when migrating to the south, remained in Lavanttal where the worship of their god may even be explained as a means of expressing their ethnic identity49. As a tribal god, Latobius was the main divinity of his tribe; his polyvalent nature was thus even more accentuated and also attested by the fact that his sanctuary was called nauale. Whether the reference to a ship in the cult of Grannus and Latobius would simply indicate a connection with water, rather than with the sun, remains uncertain; perhaps some third explanation may be equally possible.

  • 50 Kenner 1989, 905-922.
  • 51 Birkhan 1997, 634-652.
  • 52 Thévenot 1955.
  • 53 For a different, probably erroneous, explanation cf. Webster 1995, 153-161.

20Dedications were erected for Latobius at Burgstall near St. Margarethen, by the epichoric inhabitants who were in possession of Roman citizenship, such as the above mentioned C. Speratius Vibius and Valeria Avita, L. Caesernius Avitus (CIL, III, 5097), or Vindonia Vera (CIL, III, 5098). Latobius may have been venerated at Flauia Solua in the sacred area at Frauenberg where Isis, or possibly Isis Noreia, was also worshipped. There, one of the dedicants, Q. (?) Morsius Titianus, also seems to have been a native Norican (CIL, III, 5321 = RISt, 167; this is the only occurence of the gentilicium Morsius), while a votive slab dedicated to Mars Latobius Marmogius Toutates Sinates Mogetius (CIL, III, 5320 = 11721 = ILS. 4566 + p. clxxxii = RISt, 166) was erected by one C. Valerius Valerianus. Unless he was a casual visitor instead of a Norican resident, he was probably a colonist who came to settle in Noricum. from elsewhere, perhaps a Roman from Italy. According to the usual explanation of the dedication, Mars, described with five epithets, would have been the venerated divinity, i.e. Mars, who can strike far (Latobius), a mighty god (Marmogius), a god of a tribe (Toutates), a healer (Sinates), and a great god (Mogetius). Theoretically, however, as the names are actually six theonyms, six different divinities could have been honoured in the dedication, especially since each name is written in its own line, except the last two names, Sinates and Mogetius, which partially share one line. Latobius, as a tribal god, was a much more complex divinity than the Roman Mars, possessing the features of Apollo and Jupiter50. However, Mars (or a Celtic divinity identified with him) was very popular throughout the Celtic world51, and in Noricum in particular, especially in the ager of Celeia. According to Caesar (Bell. Gall., 6.17.2, see supra), Mars was the third most important god venerated by the Celts, next to Mercurius and Apollo52. The case of Latobius may indicate that the so called interpretatio Romana was never actually an equivalent comparison of the two, or more, deities; it may rather be explained as an anxiety of the Romans who perhaps were not very well informed about the local religious practices, and who did not want to offend either their own, or an epichoric god53.

Glimpses of cult practices from prehistory

21The epichoric gods are mainly known from the Roman period dedications; some may have been pre-Celtic, and venerated during the Principate as ancient divinities of distant ancestors, while some were Celtic, brought by the Norican and Tauriscan Celtic population to their new country.

  • 54 Kenner 1950, 161-180, with cited parallels and citations from literary sources.
  • 55 Kuret 1984, 522 (for more details see 115-123).
  • 56 Kuret 1984, 523-524.

22Traces of Celtic cult practices other than such that could be read and/or inferred from the epigraphic documents are rare, and even these cannot be interpreted with certainty. An interesting discovery was made in 1936 at Fauianis on the Danube (present-day Mautern a.d. Donau), since the end of the 1st century a.d. an auxiliary camp. It was situated at the very outskirts of Noricum, already outside the southeastern Alpine area; there, three clay masks came to light among the Roman period pottery of the 1st to 3rd centuries a.d., probably dated to the 2nd century. The best preserved of the masks undoubtedly represents a calf, the second one a devilish monster, while the third, of which merely two fragments are extant, cannot be identified precisely but is also an animal mask. As may be seen by the details of workmanship, they were worn by means of a sack made of cloth or hide. People disguised in these masks almost certainly exhibited themselves during the pagan carnival-like ceremonies which were relatively typical of the Celtic world. They were persecuted by the Church, which in the late antiquity often forbade “dressing in fawns and calves” (uetulas et ceruulos facere, in ceruulos et uetulas ambulare)54. Masquerading and fancy-dress merrymaking were particularly popular around the New Year and at the changing of seasons, especially in spring, around the vernal equinox; formerly ritual, masquerading has survived to the present day in certain customs at carnival time, such as the running of the “Kurents” (a mask with cow horns) from village to village in the Ptuj (Poetouio) region. Even New Year masks have been preserved, but only in the Bohinj Valley in the Julian Alps; remnants of ritual manistic masks may be recognized in them. “On the 26th or 31st of December, lads dressed in sheepskins go from house to house in the valley, bringing, according to the folk belief, blessing for the following year, in return for which the local people give them gifts”55. Ritual masks of the winter period, notably that of the hag Pehtra (in German: Percht) have been preserved only at Podkoren below the Karavanke Alps, as well as in Carinthia. In the southeastern part of the former province of Noricum, a zoomorphic mask in the form of a deer hind has been preserved to the present, which is most likely a direct descendant of the mentioned Romanized epichoric ceruula56.

Aequorna / Aecorna

23The earliest epigraphically attested cult east of the Lacus Timaui is that of Aequorna / Aecorna, a goddess worshipped exclusively in the Emona Basin, at Nauportus and in Emona. Outside this area, her cult is documented only in Sauaria, where a marble plaque with the dedication to the goddess was erected by the inhabitants of Emona, settled in Sauaria, her local character thus being additionally confirmed (RIU, 135 = Die römischen Steindenkmaler von Sauaria. 1971, no 70). The earliest testimony of her cult is a building inscription – or possibly two inscriptions (on one, CIL, III, 3777 = CIL, I2, 2286 = ILLRP, 34, a porticus is merely mentioned and no divinity) – found at Nauportus, erected by two magistri uici who, on behalf of the village, supervised the construction of Aequorna's sanctuary. The inscription is dated to the late Republican period, most probably between the years 50 and 30 B.C. (CIL, III, 3776 = I2, 2285 = ILS, 4876 = ILLRP, 33).

  • 57 Horvat 1990; for the epigraphic and ancient literary sources, see Šašel Kos 1990, 17-33 (143-159).
  • 58 Mommsen, CIL, I2, 2285. Cf. Jordan's edition of L. Preller, Römische Mythologie, repr. 1978, 121-12 (...)

24Nauportus was an important Tauriscan emporium and an early Roman settlement which must have flourished as early as Caesar's proconsulship in Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum57. It has been generally accepted that the name of Aequorna was derived from the Latin word aequor - sea, and that she was a goddess of sea transport and patroness of river traffic along the Ljubljanica River to the Sava and to Segesta (Siscia), which was of vital importance for the existence of Nauportus58.

  • 59 Etruscan origin was suggested by Šašel 1968 (1992), 568 (574).
  • 60 Šašel Kos 1992,5-12.
  • 61 On the problems of the inhabited marshy areas, see Borca 1996, 115-145.

25However, since Aequorna was a local goddess, her name should rather be interpreted as a pre-Roman theonym. Since the name of Aequorna is certainly not Celtic, it may well be ascribed to the pre-Celtic, north Adriatic linguistic stratum. Similarity with the Latin word aequor may be a chance resemblance to an older, possibly Etruscan or Venetic name, or perhaps a true resemblance between words of the same meaning, with the same Indo-European stem59. Thus Aequorna / Aecorna might even be a Latin translation of a word meaning “water surface”, although theoretically it is not impossible to explain the name as either Etruscan or Venetic60. The meaning of “water surface” would well suit the marshy regions of the Emona Basin, extending in a triangle from Nauportus to Emona and Ig. The Ljubljana Marsh (Ljubljansko barje) may have resembled a lake during the Iron Age and Roman period, and presumably Strabo’s ἕλος Λούγεoν (7.5.2 C 314) referred to it, unless the name referred to Cerkniško jezero (Cerknica Lake), which is equally possible. Marshy areas were rarely avoided by settlers, as long as they were not particularly unhealthy, as they offered them various natural resources to exploit, specific fauna and vegetation, as well as an habitat that was naturally protected61.

Fig. 4: A dedication to Aecorna erected by the Emonians who were settled in Sauaria (by courtesy of the Savaria Museum of Szombathely).

  • 62 Šašel & Šašel 1977 (1992), 334-345 (450-458).

26Aequorna seems to have been a deity of a more complex nature than just a patroness of traffic and trade along the river route between Nauportus and Emona. She was, next to Jupiter, the most important divinity of the Emona Basin and must have been a local lake (?) or marsh (?) goddess, altogether documented on six dedications. On the two already mentioned, she was honoured by the entire community, by the uicus of Nauportus and by all Emonan inhabitants resident at Sauaria (fig. 4). Three small votive monuments dedicated to her were discovered on Castle Hill where her shrine may have stood, dominating the Ljubljana Marsh (Šašel Kos 1997, no 4-6, with earlier references). Aecorna was further worshipped by P. Cassius Secundus, the prefect of ala Britannica milliaria, who could assuredly be considered a citizen of Emona62.

  • 63 See, among others, Buchi 1993, 140-154; Fogolari, in: Fogolari & Prosdocimi 1988 169-171; Mastrocin (...)

27An attempt to elucidate the role of Aequorna / Aecorna should take into account the broad North-Adriatic area; she may well be compared to some of the local deities known to have been worshipped in Venetia, Histria, and Liburnia, where epichoric female divinities seem to have been popular well into the Roman period63.

Belinus / Belenus

  • 64 Olmsted 1994, 386.
  • 65 Pascal 1964, 123 ff. ; Maraspin 1968, 145-161; Chirassi Colombo 1976, 175-180.
  • 66 Birkhan 1997, 282-285; Olmsted 1994, 386-387, and passim.
  • 67 See the evidence collected by Maraspin 1968, 145-161.

28As Aecorna was important for the Emona Basin, so was, mutatis mutandis, Belinus important for the Norici, Iulium Carnicum, and Aquileia. Although documented elsewhere in the Celtic world, notably in Celtiberia and Galliae64, he became a specifically Norican god whose cult, however, flourished predominantly in Aquileia: he had an oracle in the city and is documented in c. sixty dedications. He was also worshipped by the Aquileians as Defensor, a divine protector of their town65. On the basis of his name he was interpreted as a god of (sun)light and was in several instances identified with Apollo, the god of healing powers par excellence66. The worship of Belenus was also connected with springs, which would signify that his chthonic and iatric powers must have been invoked by his worshippers67.

  • 68 Šašel Kos 1986, 412-432.

29He is the only Norican deity mentioned in literary sources: in two passages by Tertullian, in which he claims that Belenus is the god of the Norici (Apol. 24.7: Unicuique etiam prouinciae et ciuitati suus deus est, ut Syriae Atargatis, ut Arabiae Dusares, ut Noricis Belenus, ut Africae Caelestis, ut Mauretaniae Reguli sui; cf. ad nat. 2.8), as well as by Herodian (8.3.7-8) and Historia Augusta (V. Maximini duo 22.1), when describing the siege of Aquileia by the army of Maximinus Thrax in a.d. 238, during which the god allegedly intervened and saved the city68. An attentive reading of Tertullian's passage suggests that he did not refer to the province of Noricum but to the ciuitas of the Norici. This is in accordance with the epigraphic evidence as the dedications to Belinus have only been found to date in the ager of Virunum, the core of the Norican kingdom and, at the same time, the territory where the tribe of the Norici was settled.

  • 69 Kenner 1989, 924.
  • 70 Scherrer 1984, 175-187.
  • 71 Scherrer 1984, 175-187.
  • 72 Pascal 1964, 125.
  • 73 Thus most recently Vetters 1977, 345-347, and Verzár-Bass 1991, 275-276. On the problem of the orig (...)
  • 74 Verzár-Bass 1991, 253-277. See also Fontana 1997.

30An altar from the 2nd, or 3rd, century a.d. was discovered in secondary use not far from Magdalensberg (Slov. Štalenska gora), at the height of Hochosterwitz near St. Veit a.d. Glan (Leber 1972, no 199 = ILLPRON, 137). Another dedication to the god was found at the castle of Zigulln near Klagenfurt (Celovec), unfortunately not in situ (CIL, III, 4774 = ILLPRON, 744 = Piccottini 1996. no 16). On the left side of the altar, a sacrificial vessel (patera) is depicted with apples and a sheaf of ears, and a jug (urceus) on a podium on the right. On the basis of the reliefs on this altar it may be argued that Belinus was also considered a divinity of fertility69, which would correspond well with the thesis that he was a tribal god of the Norici70. Two more inscriptions dedicated to Belinus have come to light at Villach (Beljak), the ancient Santicum in the territory of Virunum. One is an altar, erected by a decurio of Virunum whose name is fragmentarily preserved (Leber 1972, no 16 = ILLPRON, 686), the other is a fragmentary building inscription probably referring to a sanctuary of Belinus (Leber 1972, no 15 = ILLPRON, 685). The two above mentioned altars of Belestis found at the Loibl (Ljubelj) mountain pass also belonged to the Virunum territory, while elsewhere in the province of Noricum, dedications to Belinus are not known. This could hardly be regarded a chance coincidence. The epigraphic evidence rather suggests that he should be identified with the main divinity of the Norici71. That his cult spread from Noricum to Aquileia has already been postulated by C. B. Pascal72. If this hypothesis is accepted, it is no longer possible to assume that the cult of Belinus spread to Aquileia from Celtic northern Italy – from which the city was divided by the Venetic territory – and from there by way of Aquileian merchant families to Noricum where it would have secondarily taken roots, Belinus thus becoming a “Norican” divinity73. Despite the discrepancy between the testimony of Tertullian and the great number of dedications to Belinus /Belenus from Aquileia, and despite the chronological discrepancy, he must nonetheless be considered a Norican deity, as is expressly claimed by Tertullian. From the chronological point of view, the god seems to be attested at Aquileia as early as in some late Republican inscriptions, although he is not documented among the most ancient cults of the colony74. On the other hand, the epigraphic evidence of Belinus in Noricum is relatively late; this, however, can be explained by the fact that the epigraphic habit there, in general, started later.

  • 75 CIL, V, 1838 = ILS, 1349; CIL, V, 1839 = Suppl. It., n.s., 12, p. 120-121, no 10; Winkler 1969, 33- (...)

31The issue concerning the origin of Belinus in the ancient centre of the Norican kingdom, and its chronology, is greatly influenced by the evidence from Iulium Carnicum where the cult is attested on a pre-Augustan building inscription mentioned above (CIL, V, 1829). lulium Carnicum, as could be inferred from a passage in Ptolemy (Geogr., 8.7.5) in which he placed the town within the Norican kingdom, although elsewhere (2.13.4) he described it as being situated in the border zone between Italy and Noricum, must have been strongly influenced by the proximity of the Norican kingdom. Perhaps, at a certain period, it even belonged to the kingdom. The building inscription from the first half of the 1st century b.c., in which Belinus' sanctuary is mentioned, is the earliest testimony of the cult of Belinus in the southeastern Alps as well as in northern Italy. All the more so because the inscription refers to the reconstruction of the sanctuary, thus presupposing the existence of an earlier structure. lulium Carnicum was an important outpost of Aquileian and perhaps also other north Italian families who had an economic interest in the Norican kingdom, and who established themselves at Magdalensberg at an early date, possibly even by the late 2nd century b.c. Thus it is not surprising that the first known procurator of Noricum, C. Baebius Atticus, was precisely a citizen of lulium Carnicum, the former duumvir iure dicundo of his native town75. Other testimonies of the cult of Belinus /Belenus from the northeastern Italian area, such as from Altinum (CIL, V, 2143-2146) or Concordia (CIL, V, 1866 = Lettich 1994, 29, no 1) may also be a demonstration of influence from Noricum, as opposed to that from Aquileia.

  • 76 Piccottini 1977, 271.
  • 77 Scherrer 1984, 184-187.
  • 78 Šašel 1966(1992), 117-137 (99-119); Egger 1956 (1963), 53-58 (231-235).

32The role Belinus must have had in the ager of Virunum corresponds with the role he played in his secondary centre, Aquileia, where he was honoured by the emperors Diocletian and Maximian as a divine protector of the city and a healer (CIL, V, 732 + p. 1023 = ILS, 625); his latter function is well reflected in those dedications in which he was worshipped as Fous Beleni (e.g. CIL. V, 754, 755, 8250), or in which he was accompanied by the Nymphs (ILS, 4867). In view of the prevailing opinion that Belinus /Belenus had become, so to say, a national divinity of the Norici, and the claim that Antinous' appearance was similar to that of Belenus (CIL, XIV, 3535: Antinoo et Beleno par aetas formaque; si par, / [c]ur non Antinous sit quoque qui Belenus? / [---] Siculu[s ---?] / [---?]), it seems plausible to identify the bronze statue of the “Youth of Magdalensberg” (der Jüngling von Helenenberg), which must have undoubtedly represented a god76, as Belenus77. The statue, discovered as early as 1502, is dated in the first half of the 1st century b.c. An imitation of a Greek original, it is one of the most beautiful objects of art of the Roman period Noricum. The donors had their names engraved on the right thig (CIL, III, 4815 = I2, 2, 4, 3467 = ILLRP, 1272: A. Poblicius D. l. Antioc(us) / Ti. Barbius Q. (et) P. l. Tiber(inus, or: -iams)); they are both members of prominent merchant families from Aquileia, among the first to establish connections with the Norican kingdom78.

  • 79 See most recently Gleirscher 1993, 79-98; unfortunately he did not take into account proposals disc (...)
  • 80 Walde-Psenner 1982, 281-301.
  • 81 Argued by Egger 1956, 53-58, and accepted, e.g. by Kenner 1989, 910-912.
  • 82 Gleirscher 1993.
  • 83 The axe, with which the youth is depicted on a wood-cut published by P. Apian (A.D. 1534) could har (...)
  • 84 Scherrer 1984, 184-187, 201-215.
  • 85 Zaccaria 1995, 184-185. I would like to thank Prof. Claudio Zaccaria very much for having kindly dr (...)

33In the second half of the 16th century, a copy was made of the statue as the original was lost. In the course of time, the copy has undergone further damage by cleaning and the provision of various attributes, adapting it to represent Mercury by a fountain; subsequently it has been differently interpreted79. It has been suggested that the Youth of Magdalensberg would have been a Mercury80, or Mars Latobius, according to the currently prevailing opinion81. Lastly, he was interpreted as part of the so-called “Noreia-group”, which would have been hypothetically represented also in the cult cart from Strettweg near Judenburg in Styria82. However, the latter hypothesis lacks convincing arguments and is based on too many suppositions83; as P. Scherrer has convincingly argued, there is no decisive evidence even to support the first two identifications. His interpretation of the statue as a cult statue of Belinus, advanced in his doctoral thesis, seems the most acceptable of all84; the most recent proposal of P. Gleirscher certainly does not refute it. On the contrary, it even seems confirmed by the fact that at Concordia, an early Augustan small bronze statue of the god Belenus was discovered, bearing the dedication on his left thig (CIL, V, 1866 = Lettich 1994, no 1: M. or M'. Por(cius) Tertius / Bel(eno) Aug(usto) v. s. Concord(iae))85. Unfortunately, it is now lost.

Iuppiter Depulsor and Iuppiter Culminalis

  • 86 Egger 1914, Bbl. 65-68; Pahič 1968, 24.

34Jupiter Depulsor was one of the most widely worshipped local divinities in the southeastern Alpine area. His cult has been attested to date mainly in Noricum and in southwestern Pannonia, notably at Poetouio, which was formerly under the greater influence of the Norican kingdom. Thus Poetouio belonged to the kingdom prior to the Augustan reorganization. Although the god was worshipped under the Latin name, there is no doubt, due to his local significance, that Depulsor was a Norican / Tauriscan god whose name was translated into Latin. A representation of him is preserved on a votive marble plaque from Colatio, Noricum (present-day Stari trg near Slovenj Gradec), now in the Landesmuseum Joanneum at Graz86. A divinity with the same name was venerated also elsewhere in the Roman Empire and is documented altogether on some forty-five dedications. Some of these dedications were erected by dedicants who were by origin from Noricum or southwestern Pannonia, while some were set up by people whose origin cannot be identified with certitude.

  • 87 Pflaum 1955, 445-460.
  • 88 Kolendo 1989, 1062-1076.

35H.-G. Pflaum analyzed all, at his time extant, dedications to Jupiter Depulsor, and concluded that his worship was chronologically limited to the second half of the 2nd and first half of the 3rd centuries a.d. Consequently, he postulated a sudden flourishing of the cult and associated it with the increasing invasions and attacks of barbarians across the Danube in that period87. I. Kolendo added recent epigraphical finds to the small corpus of inscriptions collected by Pflaum, and confirmed the local character of the god; he elaborated upon Pflaum's thesis and explained the worship of Jupiter Depulsor as a specific reaction to the Marcomannic Wars and barbarian incursions that closely preceded them88.

  • 89 Alföldy 1989, 81-82 and n. 88 (= Die Krise, 1989, 370-371 and n. 88). See also Šašel Kos 1995a.
  • 90 Šašel Kos 1995a, 371-382.

36It should be noted that several dedications to Jupiter Depulsor, although not precisely dated, are possibly from earlier than the second half of the 2nd century a.d. Furthermore, it has recently been emphasized that the period between the second half of the 2nd and the first half of the 3rd century a.d., also coincided with a period of general revival of local cults89. This is one of the principal arguments against the theory of a momentous flourishing of the cult of Jupiter Depulsor. The fact that his dedications were found predominantly in those regions of Noricum and southeastern Pannonia which were situated relatively far inland and were not particularly exposed to barbarian attacks, as opposed to sites along the frontier, is also essential. It is possible that in the creed of his cultores, Jupiter Depulsor must have possessed traits of a supreme deity whose celestial virtue was to avert evils of various kinds, from diseases and epidemics to failures and dangers of any kind, as well as hostile attacks. All of which became a reality at the outbreak of the Marcomannic Wars90.

  • 91 Mόcsy et al. 1983, s.v.
  • 92 Latte 1960, 80 note 1; Šašel Kos 1993, 227; 231-232.

37A local god, whose cult seems to have been more or less limited to the regions between Emona and Aquae Iasae (present-day Varazdinske toplice, probably in the territory of Poetouio), was worshipped under the name of Jupiter Culminalis. His altar was discovered in the village of Sava near Litija in the Emona territory, not distant from the Norican border (AIJ, 20). Not surprisingly, Jupiter Culminalis was also worshipped at the Norican pass of Atrans (Trojane) by one Chresimus, a slave of two Augusti (CIL, III, 11673). At Celeia, an altar was erected for him and for all the gods and goddesses by one T. Mattius Hecato (CIL, III, 5186); as is indicated by the dedicant's name, which is rare and characteristic of Noricum.91, he was most probably a native. Several dedications to the god came to light in Poetovio and its ager; one was erected by Aurelius Maximinus, a member of the municipal elite who was, in addition to having been a decurio of the colony and enjoyed the honour of a duumuir quinquennalis, also a sacerdos of Upper Pannonia (CIL, III, 4108 = AIJ, 449). Jupiter Culminalis was further honoured in Poetouio together with Juno Regina and Genius loci by a guardian of the imperial archives (custos tabularii), Philadespotus, a slave of two Augusti who wished to propitiate the local divinities (CIL, III, 4032; see also AIJ, 283, 284). At Petrijanec near Aquae Iasae (present-day Varazdinske toplice) his name appears on a fragmentary dedication (CIL, III, 4115). Supposedly, worship of Iupiter Culminalis was not unlike that of Jupiter Depulsor, although the latter had a much deeper resounding at home and abroad92.

Epilogue

38Some of the divinities analyzed in the study were ancient, pre-Celtic deities, as is indicated by their names, Timauus, Aecorna, Laburus, Savus, Atrans; some were undoubtedly Celtic, such as Grannus, Latobius, Belinus, and Adsalluta. Others were Romanized epichoric divinities, almost certainly Celtic, who were worshipped under Latin names, such as Jupiter Culminalis and Depulsor, as well as the Nutrices.

  • 93 Bratož 1986.
  • 94 Egger 1950, 29-78; Scherrer 1984, 238-246.
  • 95 Petru & Ulbert, 1975; Šašel Kos 1997, 337 sq..

39With the assertion of the early Christian church, continuity in most sacred places was interrupted or terminated; early Christian churches are documented in many of them yet in most cases it cannot be proven that they were built in order to supersede a previous pagan cult. Churches undoubtedly sprang up in all urban centres; they are well attested in most of them93. They were also built at some sacred places such as Lacus Timaui, as well as in many late Roman fortified upland settlements, where the existence of an epichoric cult has often been supposed but rarely proven. Such is the situation at Ulrichsberg (Senturska gora) in Carinthia (the ager of Virunum), where it is believed that Isis Noreia and Casuontanus were formerly venerated, although the evidence for their worship on the mountain is not conclusive94. Perhaps the situation was not much different from that at Vranje (the territory of Celeia), where altars erected to Vibes, as well as Hercules and Jupiter, were discovered. They had probably been brought there along with gravestones from an early Roman village in the valley as building material for the late Roman settlement95.

  • 96 Glaser 1982, 12-13; 42.
  • 97 Dular et al. 1995.
  • 98 Ciglenečki 1987.

40An epichoric cult is attested at Hemmaberg near Globasnitz (Slov. Sv. Hema pri Globasnici, in the territory of Virunum). Iouvenas (from the preserved form Iouenat-), an important local eponymous divinity, was worshipped here; the name of the settlement below, Iuenna (present-day Globasnitz/ Globasnica)96, is still preserved in the name of the valley, Jauntal (Slov. Podjuna). Evidence of autochthonous cults on heights, which preceded the early Christian churches, has also been discovered elsewhere: the site of a sanctuary for Aquo at Rifnik (the ager of Celeia), and for example, at Kučar (the Neuiodunum region), formerly the site of the worship of Siluanus and Jupiter97. However, in most of these cases, churches were built because of the settlements which were organized on these heights when life in the towns in valleys became too dangerous98. Only in rare instances could it be assumed that a previous epichoric cult lived on until members of an early Christian community destroyed it and intentionally constructed a church precisely at the site of the former cult structure, in an attempt to supersede and uproot the pagan cult.

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Annexes

Abréviations

AIJ, see, Hoffiler & Saria (1938).

ILLPRON: M. Hainzmann et P. Schubert (1986), Inscriptionum lapidarium Latinarum provinciae Norici usque ad annum MCMLXXXIV repertarum indices, Berlin.

RIST, see Weber (1969).

Notes

1 See the articles in: Schauer (ed.) 1996.

2 Teržan (ed.) 1995, 1996; see also Turk 1997, 49-52.

3 Šašel 1989 (1992), 57-73 (690-706); Tóth 1980, 80-88; cf. also Fitz 1993, 126.

4 Cuscito 1989, 61-127; Vedaldi Iasbez 1994, 160-177 and 180-181; Verzár-Bass 1991, 255-260; Fontana 1997, 30-34; cf. also Cenerini 1992, 106.

5 Grilli 1991, 15-44, where he also refers to the legend of Diomedes. See more about Diomedes in the Adriatic area in D'Ercole, published in these Acts.

6 Grassl 1982, 245-252, especially 251.

7 Grassl 1988, 11-14.

8 Egg 1996; see also Gleirscher 1993, 89-94; the cult should rather be explained in terms of an Artemis cult, not that of Noreia, for which there is no evidence.

9 For Minerva: Mastrocinque 1987, passim; Pascal 1964, 112-113; for Mars and Apollo, see below; for Hercules and Epona: Piccottini 1996, no 2 = CIL, III, 4784 + p. 1813, 2328, 44 = ILS, 4835, from Virunum.

10 See Šašel 1972 (1992), 135-144 (288-297), for the location of the Ambisontes in the Soča / Isonzo valley, especially 140-144 (293-297).

11 Osmuk 1987, 57-79. During the first few excavations campaigns, three statues of Apollo were discovered, one of Venus, one of Mars, one of Diana, and three of Hercules, along with votive tablets, as well as Celtic and Roman coins. During subsequent excavations, more statuettes have come to light; however, these new finds have only been published in a preliminary way, see Ead. 1997, 9-16.

12 Càssola Guida 1989, 62-63 no 20; cf. Ead. 1978, 59-60, no 44 and 45.

13 Osmuk 1997, 14.

14 Adam 1991, 60-64; cf. also Osmuk 1997, 14.

15 Pauli 1986, 825-827.

16 Osmuk 1997, 15.

17 See most recently on Belenus / Belinus, Birkhan 1997, 582-585 and passim.

18 Scherrer 1984, 182-184, 288-289.

19 Cf. Degrassi 1929 (1962), 166-172 (728-735), who, however, discussed the material found in the cave from the point of view of a late Roman refugium, not referring to the possibility of its, perhaps partly, sacred character.

20 Szombathy 1912, 127-190; Gabrovec 1983, 80-87; Pauli 1986, 831-833; Frelih 1992, 73-104; Turk 1994.

21 Frelih 1997.

22 However, the dedication on a bronze situla of the late 5th, or 4th century b.c., from the nearby Skeletna jama [Knochenhöhle] has incorrectly been deciphered as a dedication to Reitia (thus in Szombathy 1912, 177-179); rather, it is an epitaph for one Ostiaris, see Pellegrini & Prosdocimi 1967, 603-605.

23 See also remarks in Zaccaria 1992, 235; cf. Rossi 1992, 161-167.

24 Short preliminary reports published by Knific 1997, 234-235; Id. 1997a, 236-238.

25 Bones are being identified by L. Bartosiewicz.

26 Rageth 1994, 141-172.

27 Noll 1980.

28 Lovenjak 1997, 67-68.

29 Torbrügge 1972, 1-146; Hansen 1997, 29-34.

30 Potočnik 1989, 387-400; Bitenc & Knific 1994, 8-11; Iid. 1997, 257-262. The entire fundus will be published in the series of the National Museum of Slovenia, Katalogi in monografije.

31 See most recently on Timauus: Buora & Zaccaria 1989, 309-311; Lettich 1994, 39, no 11.

32 Alföldi 1931, 47, no 14 and 2; Webb 19722, Probus no 764-766.

33 Šašel 1980, 61-66.

34 Šašel Kos 1994, 99-122, where earlier literature is cited.

35 See the commentary in Šašel Kos 1994.

36 Pick 1911, 172-174, tab. IV.

37 Gleirscher 1996, 429-449.

38 Lippert 1992, 285-304.

39 Glaser 1993, 289-295.

40 Glaser 1980, 121-125 (Birkhan 1980, 125-127); Glaser 1992, 62 no 42.

41 Glaser 1980, 121-125; Birkhan 1980, 125-127; for Grannus in Noricum, see also Scherrer 1984, 102-104.

42 Egger 1927, 4-20; Scherrer 1984, 249-251.

43 Leber 1972, no 256.

44 Glaser 1980, 121-125; Birkhan 1980, 125-127.

45 Cf. Birkhan 1997, 621.

46 Cf. Birkhan 1997, 639 and n. 7.

47 For Neuiodunum see Lovenjak 1996; for Praetorium Latobicorum: Šašel Kos 1995, 149-170.

48 Scherrer 1984, 169; 481-482; see, however, Pauli 1986, 830-831 and Birkhan 1997, 639.

49 Scherrer 1984, 175.

50 Kenner 1989, 905-922.

51 Birkhan 1997, 634-652.

52 Thévenot 1955.

53 For a different, probably erroneous, explanation cf. Webster 1995, 153-161.

54 Kenner 1950, 161-180, with cited parallels and citations from literary sources.

55 Kuret 1984, 522 (for more details see 115-123).

56 Kuret 1984, 523-524.

57 Horvat 1990; for the epigraphic and ancient literary sources, see Šašel Kos 1990, 17-33 (143-159).

58 Mommsen, CIL, I2, 2285. Cf. Jordan's edition of L. Preller, Römische Mythologie, repr. 1978, 121-122, n. 1; Diz. ep., s.v. Cf. Chirassi Colombo 1976, 189.

59 Etruscan origin was suggested by Šašel 1968 (1992), 568 (574).

60 Šašel Kos 1992,5-12.

61 On the problems of the inhabited marshy areas, see Borca 1996, 115-145.

62 Šašel & Šašel 1977 (1992), 334-345 (450-458).

63 See, among others, Buchi 1993, 140-154; Fogolari, in: Fogolari & Prosdocimi 1988 169-171; Mastrocinque 1987; Pascal 1964; Degrassi 1970 (1971), 615-632 (157-178); Girardi Jurkic 1984 7-24

64 Olmsted 1994, 386.

65 Pascal 1964, 123 ff. ; Maraspin 1968, 145-161; Chirassi Colombo 1976, 175-180.

66 Birkhan 1997, 282-285; Olmsted 1994, 386-387, and passim.

67 See the evidence collected by Maraspin 1968, 145-161.

68 Šašel Kos 1986, 412-432.

69 Kenner 1989, 924.

70 Scherrer 1984, 175-187.

71 Scherrer 1984, 175-187.

72 Pascal 1964, 125.

73 Thus most recently Vetters 1977, 345-347, and Verzár-Bass 1991, 275-276. On the problem of the origin of Belinus in Noricum see also Kenner 1989, 922-925.

74 Verzár-Bass 1991, 253-277. See also Fontana 1997.

75 CIL, V, 1838 = ILS, 1349; CIL, V, 1839 = Suppl. It., n.s., 12, p. 120-121, no 10; Winkler 1969, 33-35; Alföldy 1974, 242; Id. 1984, 106, no 116.

76 Piccottini 1977, 271.

77 Scherrer 1984, 184-187.

78 Šašel 1966(1992), 117-137 (99-119); Egger 1956 (1963), 53-58 (231-235).

79 See most recently Gleirscher 1993, 79-98; unfortunately he did not take into account proposals discussed by Scherrer in his unpublished dissertation, 1984, 201-215. On tecnical problems concerning the statue, see Gschwantler 1988, 17-27.

80 Walde-Psenner 1982, 281-301.

81 Argued by Egger 1956, 53-58, and accepted, e.g. by Kenner 1989, 910-912.

82 Gleirscher 1993.

83 The axe, with which the youth is depicted on a wood-cut published by P. Apian (A.D. 1534) could hardly be a La Tène period axe. Parallels indicate that it is a 15th or 16th century poleaxe, see, for example, Mann 1962, 441-443, pl. 150, particulary p. 442, A927, manufactured in Venice c. 1530. Staro oružje / Alte Waffen / Armi antiche / Les armes anciennes / Ancient Weapons (Izložba / Ausstellung / Mostra / Exposition), Senj 1989, 8; The Encyclopedia of European Historical Weapons, Prague, 1993, 127.

84 Scherrer 1984, 184-187, 201-215.

85 Zaccaria 1995, 184-185. I would like to thank Prof. Claudio Zaccaria very much for having kindly drawn my attention to this statuette.

86 Egger 1914, Bbl. 65-68; Pahič 1968, 24.

87 Pflaum 1955, 445-460.

88 Kolendo 1989, 1062-1076.

89 Alföldy 1989, 81-82 and n. 88 (= Die Krise, 1989, 370-371 and n. 88). See also Šašel Kos 1995a.

90 Šašel Kos 1995a, 371-382.

91 Mόcsy et al. 1983, s.v.

92 Latte 1960, 80 note 1; Šašel Kos 1993, 227; 231-232.

93 Bratož 1986.

94 Egger 1950, 29-78; Scherrer 1984, 238-246.

95 Petru & Ulbert, 1975; Šašel Kos 1997, 337 sq..

96 Glaser 1982, 12-13; 42.

97 Dular et al. 1995.

98 Ciglenečki 1987.

List of illustrations

Caption Fig. 1: Geographic and administrative situation of the area.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ausonius/docannexe/image/6810/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 160k
Caption Fig. 2: A bronze statuette of Heracles from Kobarid (from: Osmuk 1997, 13).
URL http://books.openedition.org/ausonius/docannexe/image/6810/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 72k
Caption Fig. 3: A view of the Škocjan Caves (by courtesy of the National Museum of Slovenia).
URL http://books.openedition.org/ausonius/docannexe/image/6810/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 120k
Caption Fig. 4: A dedication to Aecorna erected by the Emonians who were settled in Sauaria (by courtesy of the Savaria Museum of Szombathely).
URL http://books.openedition.org/ausonius/docannexe/image/6810/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 137k

Author

Centre de recherche de l’Académie Slovène.

© Ausonius Éditions, 2000

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