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Original cult of genius

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Head of a genius, worshiped by a Roman soldier (object found in Vindobona, 2nd century CE)
Head of a genius, worshiped by a Roman soldier (object found in Vindobona, 2nd century CE). | Photo: Gryffindor | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

The most original cult of the Romans was the cult of genius. As a guardian deity, he was born along with a man, he guided his good and bad fortune. He was shown as a young man in a toga, with a veil on his face, a cup and a cornucopia.

Each man was thought to have his own individual genius. Offerings were made to him on his birthday – hence Christians initially suppressed the celebration of birthdays, as it is a pagan holiday in honour of their own genius (the Christian substitute is name day, a holiday in honour of the godfather of the patron saint).

The genius was offered food and drink. The cult of genius played a special role in the Empire when the genius of the ruler was honoured.

  • Kempiński Andrzej, Encyklopedia mitologii ludów indoeuropejskich, Warszawa 2001

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