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Coelus on the armour Octavian Augustus, opposed to the Earth goddess at the bottom.

Coelus or Caelus was a god of heaven, rather regarded as a personification; there is no evidence of a separate cult of this god. Its counterpart is the Greek god Uranus, although Coelus played a much smaller role in Roman mythology than Uranus in Greek. His name comes from the word caelum, meaning “heaven”.

Coelus was considered according to Marcus Terentius Varro the spouse of the goddess Tellus (Greek Gaia) and the father of her children: Saturn, Ops, Oceanos as well as Titans and Giants. They were both considered pater and mater (“father” and “mother”) and “great deities” (dei magni).

Caelus starts making a regular appearance in Augustan art, along with the cult of Mithra during the imperial era. Vitruvius places him among the heavenly gods whose temples (aedes) should be built with an opening to heaven. As the god of heaven, he gradually came to be identified with Jupiter. This is indicated for example by the inscription that reads Maximus Optimus Caelus Aeternus Iup[pi]ter.

  • Kempiński Andrzej, Encyklopedia mitologii ludów indoeuropejskich, Warszawa 2001
  • Schmidt Joël, Słownik mitologii greckiej i rzymskiej, Katowice 1996

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