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List of Emblems of Classical Deities in Ancient and Modern Pictorial Arts
by Dr. Susanna Roxman

Introductory note

Classical mythological characters often have certain traditional emblems or attributes, especially in the pictorial arts, but also in poetry and fiction, and elsewhere. The original purpose of these emblems was probably to help identify this or that deity. Later many of them became chiefly decorative, while still in some degree serving as "identity tags".

Many conjunctions in Western art and literature cannot be understood without some knowledge of mythological emblems. For instance, a painting of a beautiful female nude with a mirror and a dog is hardly ever simply a narcissistic lady with a lapdog. She is Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, or Venus, her Roman equivalent. This is shown not only by her beauty, but by her emblems. The mirror is one of Aphrodite's most frequent attributes, while a dog represented loyalty, so that the goddess with these two emblems is a kind of pictorial riddle whose answer is "faithful love". This is a whole language which, like all languages, has to be learnt.

My list presents alphabetically a selection of such emblems, especially, but not exclusively, the more common ones. They have all at some point appeared in painting or sculpture, sometimes also in literature. When it has seemed appropriate, I have added a brief explanation or other comment to the entry.

In double or triple names ("Hermes/Mercury"), I have put the Greek one or ones first, the Latin version last. After some hesitation, I have chosen to use the time-honoured English forms of some of the Greek and Latin masculine forms: thus Dionysus rather than Dionysos, Mercury rather than Mercurius, and Neptune, not Neptunus. The Roman deity is not necessarily just the same one but with a Latin name. It was rather that the Romans liked to identify Greek (and other non-Roman) gods and goddesses with their own, even when the equivalence now seems fairly doubtful. The Roman Mars, for example, was more versatile by far than the Greek Ares, who often seems to be little more than a personification of war.

List of Emblems


1) Aphrodite/Venus. She holds only one, identified as the apple of Eris (Conflict), which bore the legend "To the most beautiful (goddess)". Paris awarded this apple to Aphrodite, rather than either of her competitors for the title, Athene and Hera, an incident which triggered the Trojan War.

But the ancient Greeks saw apples as suitable love gifts, and perhaps Aphrodite's apple originally simply referred to this, with a possible oblique reference to the shape of a woman's breasts.

2) Atlas. This giant helped Heracles fetch the apples of the Hesperides (see below).

3) Heracles/Hercules. Sometimes he holds a few apples, identified with those of the Hesperides. Fetching these fruits from an island in the far west was one of the heroic feats he had to perform.

apple tree.

This often represents that of the Hesperides. Cf. apple(s). Therefore the following people tend to be near:

1) Atlas.

2) Heracles/Hercules.

3) The Hesperides, or one or two of these.

arrows. See bow and arrows.


Hades/Plutos may hold this flower, supposed to grow in the Underworld, and therefore in later poetry a metonymy meaning death.

boots, winged. See sandals, winged.

bow and arrows. (A quiver may be added.)

1) Apollo.

2) Artemis/Diana.

3) Eros/Cupid/Amor.

4) Heracles/Hercules. Cf. club.

bowl, cup.

1) Dionysus/Bacchus. His bowl has often two ears, and is of a kind used in ceremonial contexts.

2) Ganymede. He waited at the gods' table; his bowl, too, is a drinking vessel.

3) Hestia/Vesta. It is understood in this case that the bowl contains embers or ashes from her hearth.

4) Zeus in scenes depicting his sacred marriage to Hera may hold a large bowl. It is probably implied that he and she will ritually drink from it during the ceremony.


1) The princess Europa is usually shown riding on a bull. This is Zeus in disguise, abducting her. According to Robert Graves, "Europa", which may mean "broad face", is a cow's name, and the story may originally have been about a sacred encounter between a cow goddess and a bull god.

2) Mithras. The central myth where this god figures is about his killing a bull. Most Mithras representations show him sitting on top of this animal, running his sword into it.

bull's head.

The Minotaur is equipped with one, though the rest of him is human.

caduceus. This is a staff entwined with one or two serpents.

1) Asclepius/Aesculapius. His staff has one snake only. The god represented healing, as did the snake—that they shed their sloughs and survive was regarded as an instance, or symbol, of rejuvenation, regeneration, and immortality. Also today, the one-snake staff is an emblem of medicine.

2) Hermes/Mercury. His staff is that of a herald, and moreover entwined with two snakes. Although that of Asclepius only has one, it is easy to suspect that these two staffs originally were the same.

Hermes, who conducted souls to the Underworld, might have been felt in need of such a regenerative object. His snakes are often so stylized that they resemble an upright figure of eight.

cap, soft and pointed.

1) Castor and Polydeuces/Pollux.

2) Ganymede.

3) Hephaestus/Vulcan.

4) Mithras. (Sometimes this god instead wears a crown or halo with rays emanating from it.)


Medea, who rejuvenated a ram in a cauldron of boiling water. (This may be the origin, or one origin, of the traditional cauldron used by witches.)


Heracles/Hercules. He also sports a bow and arrows, and is sometimes depicted with all this equipment.


This bird, which crows at daybreak, was linked with dawn and morning. Paradoxically, it may have been for this very reason that it was an emblem of some Underworld deities—as a kind of insurance or defence against the nether powers? In the Christian era, the cockerel became a symbol of resurrection, and it is therefore sometimes placed on church spires.

1) Core/Persephone/Proserpina.

2) Ganymede. A man who died young and unmarried could be seen as a "Ganymede", abducted for homosexual purposes by the chthonic version of Zeus, as Ganymede in the myth was abducted by Olympic Zeus. In the former case, the "Ganymede" may hold a cockerel. Though this has been explained as a love gift, it seems more likely that the bird constituted a defiance and a promise of eventual defeat of the destructive powers.

3) Hades/Pluto. The cockerel, which he may hold in his lap, makes Hades an ambiguous character. Death implies immortality; "To conquer death, you only have to die" (Jesus Christ Superstar).


1) Annona, who personified the Roman corn supply.

2) Roman lares (protective, perhaps ancestral spirits of the home, fields, crossroads, &c.).

3) Liber, who represented fertility and vegetation. (He could be identified with Bacchus.)

4) Various river gods (because rivers make the surrounding land fertile).

5) Tyche/Fortuna.



See also diadem.

crown, turreted.

Rhea. This crown means that she was a protectress of cities.

crown with rays.

These illustrate light.

1) Attis.

2) Helios/Sol, the sun god.

3) Mithras. (But he might as well wear a soft pointed cap, and no crown.)


1) Artemis/Diana. She is often accompanied by either a doe or a male deer.

2) Dionysus/Bacchus. Many horned or antlered animals, including (male) deer, were linked—or identified—with him.

3) Iphigenia. In one version of the myth of the sacrifice of Iphigenia, Artemis substitutes a doe for the girl. (Cf. above about Artemis's doe or deer.) Occasionally girl and doe are depicted so that they seem to melt into each other. This appears to indicate that Iphigenia was felt, or meant, to be simply a human double of the goddess's victim, and therefore of Artemis herself. Generally speaking, victim and recipient deity were often, paradoxically, more or less identified.


1) Demeter/Ceres.

2) Hera/Juno.


1) Actaeon. He is normally shown as surrounded, sometimes savaged by his own hounds, with Artemis watching.

2) Aphrodite/Venus. This companion of the goddess of love represents loyalty, so that Aphrodite or Venus with a dog means faithful love. The conjunction seems post-classical.

3) Hades/Pluto. In late classical and Roman art, he may be accompanied by Cerberus (see below).

4) Heracles/Hercules. The dog is in his case the three-headed Cerberus, guarding the entrance of the Underworld (originally perhaps so that the dead would not be able to escape and return home).

5) Mithras. His canine companion has been interpreted as representing Sirius, the Dog Star.


1) Apollo.

2) Poseidon/Neptune. In his case, the dolphin is a metonymy for the sea. (And, more generally, this animal can be used simply to indicate marine surroundings.)

3) Also the sea-nymph Thetis and her sisters may ride on dolphins.

4) Anonymous little boys (each of them recalling the legend of Arion) may be shown straddling dolphins' backs. Some lamp-posts in central Lund are decorated with bas-reliefs showing such boys on dolphins.


Silenus. He usually rides on it, and appears very intoxicated. (So does the donkey sometimes!)

double axe.

1) Zeus/Jupiter. Like the thunderbolt, it represents lightning.

(In Crete, the double axe was rather an attribute of female deities.)

2) Hephaestus. In scenes depicting the birth of Athene, this god may carry the double axe.


1) Ganymede, abducted by Zeus/Jupiter in his eagle guise.

2) Zeus/Jupiter, who may appear in human shape with the eagle as his companion.

ear(s) of corn.

1) Annona, personification of the Roman state-owned corn supply.

2) Demeter/Ceres.

3) Core/Persephone/Proserpina.

4) Triptolemus, whom Demeter/Ceres and Core/Persephone/Proserpina taught the art of agriculture.


1) Marsyas.

2) Pan. He played the syrinx, with several pipes. Disney's Peter Pan has inherited this instrument.

fruits, such as apples, figs, and grapes.



Of flowers:

1) Flora.

2) Core/Persephone/Proserpina. She was especially linked with the narcissus.

Of ivy:

Dionysus/Bacchus. Also his devotees, and sometimes his panther(s), are depicted with ivy.

Of laurels:

See under this word.

Of oak-leaves:

Zeus (at Dodona).


1) Aphrodite/Venus.

2) Dionysus/Bacchus.

3) Hermes.

4) Pan.

goat skin.

Juno Sospita, a rather archaic version of the Roman goddess Juno (corresponding to Hera), wears such a skin. She also carries a spear.


Aphrodite/Venus. She may ride on such a bird. Cf. pigeon, swan.


1) Hermes/Mercury, as protector of travellers and conductor of souls to the Underworld, may wear the traveller's typical broad-brimmed hat, with or without wings, or a smaller winged hat.

2) Oedipus may also wear a traveller's hat, but without wings.

3) So may Odysseus/Ulysses.

4) And so may Paris.

See also polos.

hippocamp(s). See under horse(s).


1) Castor and Polydeuces/Pollux. They ride on horses, or lead them by the reins. In Homer, only Castor is specifically linked with horses, however. Castor and Pollux in Roman art sometimes rather vaguely represent the equites (of equus, a horse) and/or the cavalry.

2) Helios/Sol, the sun god. Four horses draw his chariot.

3) Heracles/Hercules is sometimes depicted with horses, those of Diomede, which were ferocious and ate human flesh. Heracles captured and tamed them.

4) Medusa. In this case, the horse is usually, though not invariably, winged, and represents Pegasus, sprung from her blood when Perseus beheaded her.

5) Nyx (Night), whose chariot is drawn by four horses.

6) Poseidon/Neptune. He is sometimes linked with horses, perhaps because curving breakers could be seen as similar to the necks and backs of such animals. Cf. the expression "white horses" (on the sea). In pictorial representations, his horses are sometimes shown with fishtails—these creatures are called hippocamps, a kind of "merhorses". Four of them sometimes draw his and his consort Amphitrite's chariot.

7) Selene. As goddess of the moon, she is shown in a chariot drawn by two horses, or, more often, riding on a horse or mule.


Dionysus/Bacchus. He may wear a wreath of ivy, or carry a thyrsus entwined with it. So may his devotees, the Bacchantes. The ivy is this god's most important emblem by far.


Apollo. The laurel and the palm are his sacred trees. He wears laurels as a garland on his head, or holds a laurel sprig or branch.

leopards or panthers.

Dionysus/Bacchus. These animals pulled his chariot ("Bacchus and his pards" in Keats), and indicated his eastern origin. Sometimes the god has only one panther as his companion.


Hera. The Virgin Mary inherited this attribute.

In pre-Christian art, the flower often refers to a planned or expected wedding. Cf. how in Renaissance painting the lily may be present in Annunciation contexts.


Cybele's chariot is drawn by two lions. Sometimes she simply sits on a throne flanked by such animals.

lion's skin.

Heracles/Hercules. The skin is that of the Nemean lion, which he killed. He is often shown wearing this skin, with the lion's head on top of his own. When a Roman sculpture of the emperor Commodus depicts this ruler in the same kind of outfit, it means that he is identified with Hercules. The identification is emphasized by two other emblems: a club and some apples.




1) Apollo.

2) The Muses Erato and Terpsichore, both linked with lyric poetry (i.e., accompanied on the lyre). All the nine Muses' functions and hence emblems may vary, however.

3) Orpheus.

4) Silenus (occasionally).


1) Aphrodite/Venus. The mirror became in later art one of her most important emblems. Originally, she may have been linked with mirrors partly because in antiquity they were made of bronze, an alloy of copper and some other metal (usually tin), and copper was her special metal. The "Venus mirror" sign, a cross under a circle, signifies: a) In chemistry and alchemy: Copper; b) In astronomy and astrology: The planet Venus; c) In biology: The female sex.

2) Core/Persephone/Proserpina (as a bride).

3) Harmonia.

Perhaps because of the link with Aphrodite/Venus, the mirror was in Greece and Rome connected with brides and weddings in general.

moon (as a lunar crescent).

1) Artemis/Diana.

2) Isis.

3) Juno.


Many goddesses and mythological queens wear necklaces.

Harmonia is only one example. She may hold a mirror as well. Her necklace was beautiful but proved unlucky.


A river-god, such as Tiberinus, god of the Tiber, may hold such an object.

olive tree.

Athene. The tree was regarded as her gift to the people of Athens.



She was, among other things, a goddess who protected intellectual activities. Her owl sometimes appears alone in post-classical contexts, where it indicates scholarship. A bas-relief of an owl decorates the east façade of the AF building in Lund.



A palm may also simply indicate that the setting is exotic, from a European point of view.

panthers. See leopards.


Aphrodite/Venus. Cf. goose, swan.

pine tree.



A plate held by a deity is usually a sacrificial dish. In Roman representations, a lar (a protective, perhaps ancestral spirit) may carry such a plate. The lares of a home received daily sacrifices.


A high, cylindrical or almost cylindrical hat worn by:

1) Hera as a bride. She also wears a veil in this context.

2) Demeter (when she has the epithet Thesmophoros). She, too, wears the polos with a veil.

In archaic art, all great goddesses may wear the polos, however.


1) Athene with the epithet Core (the Girl, the Maiden). This fruit is not one of Athene's best known attributes.

2) Core/Persephone/Proserpina.

3) Hera (as a bride). She sometimes holds a pomegranate bud, rather than a fruit, or a whole basket of pomegranates.

The fruit of the pomegranate is red, with blood-like juice, and contains numerous seeds. For these reasons, it seems to have been linked with female reproductive functions—the blood of menstruation and childbirth, with the seeds as symbols of fertility. Therefore the fruit may have been seen as lucky for a bride. On the other hand, it also had Underworld associations. A pomegranate seed is that food of the dead which Core eats, and which, apparently, makes her an inhabitant of the nether world for ever. But because of the associations with reproduction, the pomegranate might have been seen as hopeful, a promise of rebirth, and suitable for the dead to eat. Cf. the similar ambiguity surrounding the cockerel and poppy.

poppy, poppies.

Core/Persephone/Proserpina. The seeds of this flower were regarded as soporific. This referred to the goddess's annual stay (sleep) in the Underworld, and therefore also to death as a kind of sleep. An alternative interpretation is that the poppy stands for fertility, as each flower produces numerous seeds. The ambiguity of this plant recalls that of the cockerel and the pomegranate.

pot, jar.

1) Electra, who may be carrying wine as a libation to her father Agamemnon's grave.

2) Isis, the Egyptian goddess whose cult was imported into Rome. Water allegedly fetched from the Nile was used in her cult, and the pot is probably a reference to this.


1) Helle. She rides on a flying ram, or has just fallen off.

2) Hermes, who as a shepherd god sometimes carries a small ram.

3) Medea. She rejuvenated a ram in a cauldron of boiling water.

4) Helle's brother Phrixus. He rides on the same ram, often together with her, but sometimes alone after her fall.

5) Odysseus/Ulysses may be shown clinging to the wool of a large ram, in order to escape from Polyphemus's cave.

ram's skin.

This is the Golden Fleece (perhaps an archaic sign of royalty). It may be shown hanging in a tree. Iason, helped by Medea, won the fleece and her love. The ram to which the fleece originally belonged was identical with that of Helle and Phrixus.




Tyche/Fortuna. Cf. wheel.

sandals, winged.

Hermes/Mercury. The wings represent speed and movement. Boots may be substituted for sandals.


1) Demeter/Ceres.

2) Hades/Pluto.

3) Hera/Juno. Sometimes, in this case, the sceptre is topped with a cuckoo. Occasionally this goddess holds a sceptre so long that it might as well be called a staff.

4) Rhea. Also in her case, the sceptre may be long enough to be called a staff.

5) Zeus/Jupiter.



Tritons. These marine deities of lower rank may hold such seashells, perhaps use them as trumpets. A triton with such an instrument tops the university fountain in Lund.


In Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus", the goddess stands up in a large, vertical seashell of this kind. The motif may not be older than this particular painting, though the myth of Aphrodite's birth from the sea certainly is.

shepherd's staff.

1) Attis.

2) Ganymede.

3) Paris.

Jesus as the Good Shepherd was later depicted with such a staff. It developed into the episcopal crozier.

shield with Gorgon's (Medusas's) head.

1) Athene/Minerva.

2) Perseus.

Also the Greek hoplites carried such shields. The Gorgon's head was a typical apotropaic device.


1) Cronus/Saturn. The latter was an old agricultural Roman deity; the sickle was an instrument of harvest (and perhaps a lunar emblem as well, on account of the crescent shape). When Cronus was interpreted as Time personified, the sickle became a symbol of his destructive powers. In the Middle Ages, it turned into the scythe wielded by Time, who thus preserved an agricultural connection, or Death. Today, the personified Old Year sometimes borrows Time's emblems, the scythe and the hourglass.

2) Perseus. The sickle as his weapon seems gradually to have ousted his sword.


This rattling instrument is sometimes held by Isis, the great Egyptian goddess whose cult became popular in the Roman empire. Her priests and other devotees used sistra, perhaps for apotropaic purposes.


1) Asclepius/Aesculapius. See caduceus.

2) Athene. A small guardian snake may be half hidden behind her shield.

3) Apollo, who killed Python, a much larger and more dangerous serpent.

4) genii or iunones. The "soul" of the father of a Roman household was known as his genius, that of the mother as her iuno. These spirits could either be depicted with a snake, or as snakes (the male one was then bearded).

5) Hermes/Mercury. See caduceus.

6) The Hesperides. Their apple-tree is guarded by a snake.

7) Iason. One cup-painting shows him as half regurgitated from the jaws of a huge serpent. The literary versions of the Iason stories do not mention this event, which may symbolize rebirth (Cf. caduceus). The name "Iason", suitably, means "healer".

8) Laocoon and his sons. They were strangled by sea serpents.


Oedipus, who solved the riddle of a famous sphinx. Cf. wings.


1) Aphrodite/Venus.

2) Leda. She was seduced by Zeus disguised as a swan. In one version, their encounter caused Leda to lay two eggs, each containing a famous pair of twins: Helen and Clytaemnestra, and Castor and Polydeuces/Pollux. Because of their mixed parentage, sometimes only one of the twins was in each case regarded as divine: Helen, but not Clytaemnestra; Polydeuces, but not Castor.


1) Aeneas. He is sometimes depicted with a white sow that was the augury for his founding of Lavinium. He sacrificed the animal to Juno.

2) Atalanta. She was one of those who killed the Calydonian boar, and is shown as participating in this hunt.

3) Circe is occcasionally shown with men who have partly been turned into swine and other animals; perhaps these victims of her magical powers are supposed to be in the actual process of being transformed.

4) Heracles/Hercules may carry a boar. This is the fierce Erymanthian wild boar, and to capture this animal was one of Heracles's Labours. The hero may be shown as presenting this swine to Eurystheus, for whom these were performed.

5) Meleager was also involved in the Calydonian boar hunt, just as Atalanta (see above).


It represents lightning, and is often depicted as an oblong, rather plump "bomb" (but sometimes as a double axe).

1) Summanus, a Roman god in charge of nocturnal thunder and lightning.

2) Vediovis. He was a Roman, rather mysterious god who may have represented some negative aspect of Jupiter, perhaps his capacity to kill as the wielder of lightning.

3) Zeus/Jupiter.


This staff, topped with a pine cone, is a typical emblem of Dionysus/Bacchus. Also his worshippers, the Bacchantes, may carry such staffs. It has been suggested that the pine cone obliquely refers to that pine resin with which some Greek wine was (and is) flavoured.


1) Artemis/Diana. Torches in this context have been interpreted as a reference to nocturnal hunting. To me it seems more likely that they symbolize the light of the moon. Like Hecate, Artemis and probably Diana were lunar deities, among other things.

2) Eros/Amor/Cupid in connection with weddings, when torches were used to accompany the bride after dark.

3) Core/Persephone/Proserpina. A torch may refer to her wedding, or rather abduction.

4) Hecate. She is sometimes shown in triad, with three torches, as presiding over a crossroads where three roads meet. Both the torches and the number three refer to the moon, the former because they shine at night, the latter because it was the lunar sacred number. (The moon had three aspects: waxing, full, waning).

5) In sanctuaries dedicated to Mithras, there were often two sculpted figures, one holding an upright torch, the other an inverted one, probably symbols of the rising and setting sun. But also an almost opposite interpretation is possible: that the upright torch stands for night, when torches were needed, and the other one for day, or morning, when they were put out.


Poseidon/Neptune. The trident was a weapon used for tuna fishing. But the number three was also a sacred or lucky number. The god was supposed to stir up storms at sea with his trident. He could also use it to create freshwater or salt water springs.


Apollo and Heracles/Hercules are sometimes shown as fighting for the tripod of Apollo's temple at Delphi. The struggle has been said to symbolize a Dorian attempt to take over this cult centre. The tripod was that on which the oracle (sibyl) sat when she prophesied; three was a sacred number.

veil or shawl.

1) Aphrodite.

2) Core/Persephone/Proserpina.

3) Cybele may wear one with her crown.

4) Hera (as a bride).

5) Hestia/Vesta wears one on her head and shoulders. So did each Vestal in Rome. This was really a bridal headdress; Vesta was chaste, and so had the Vestals to be, because they were considered to be married to the eternal fire on Vesta's sacred hearth. Fire is almost always male in mythology and folklore. Cf. the veils of nuns, who in many ways were the Vestals' successors. Nuns were, and are, called the brides of Christ.

6) Nereids (sea nymphs) sometimes hold—rather than wear—arching or billowing veils, probably representing the waves of the sea.

7) Also sacrificing Roman heroes, such as Aeneas, may be depicted with their heads veiled, according to the custom in Rome.


Dionysus/Bacchus. It seems odd that the ivy is far more common as an emblem of his.


1) Circe as a sorceress.

2) Hermes/Mercury as conductor of souls to the Underworld.

The later wands of fairies, witches and wizards seem to be derived from these two classical precedents.


Tyche/Fortuna. She usually has either a wheel or a rudder, as well as a cornucopia. Perhaps the wheel originally symbolized the turning year, but developed into an emblem of the vicissitudes of life. As such, the wheel was used well into the Middle Ages. Fortuna as a Roman goddess stood for chance rather than fate. So did her later, more vulgar equivalents, Dame Fortune and Lady Luck.

wild boar. See swine.


Many creatures in classical mythology sport birds' wings. Quite often these indicate speed, but sometimes the reference is clearly rather to a position "up there" (in the sky), or to something/somebody that is not a material object or person.

These are only a few examples, relatively common in pictorial art:

1) Eos/Aurora, goddess of dawn.

2) Eros/Cupid/Amor. The son of Aphrodite/Venus, he was depicted as a naked winged boy, sometimes with a bow and arrows. There are also cupids in the plural; these tend to have a purely decorative function.

3) Nike/Victoria (Victory). Personifying military victory, she usually, though not always, is equipped with wings. It is possible that she originally stood for a quick or unexpected victory—hence the wings, meaning speed.

4) Pegasus. See horse(s).

5) Psyche. She represents the human soul, and is normally winged—perhaps because thought is quick like a bird, perhaps because the soul was believed to rise, like a bird or butterfly, at the moment of death. (There were also other notions of the afterlife.)

6) Sirens. They were part women, part birds. Post-classically, they developed into mermaids.

7) Sphinxes. The Greek ones were part women, part lions, and had wings. (Egyptian sphinxes, on the other hand, are part men, part lions, and lack wings.)

8) Summanus. The Roman god of nocturnal thunder and lightning, he is sometimes depicted with wings, to indicate that he belongs to the upper regions (the sky). His other emblem is the thunderbolt.

9) Winds. Personified winds could have wings.

See also sandals, winged.


Romulus and Remus. When these twins, later founders of Rome, were newborn, they were suckled by a she-wolf. The triad of boys and wolf became a symbol of Rome, as city and empire. The wolf was one of Mars's sacred animals, and the myth is symbolic. Mars was, or became, the Roman god of war. Romulus and Remus stand for all Romans: nourished on wolf's milk, they were "inevitably" a martial people.

Selective bibliography

Lucilla Burn: Greek Myths. British Museum Press, London, 1992.
Jane F Gardner: Roman Myths. British Museum Press, London, 1993.
Robert Graves: The Greek Myths, Volumes 1 & 2. Pelican/Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1985-1986.
Miranda J Green: The Gods of Roman Britain. Shire Archaeology/Shire Publications, Aylesbury, 1988.
James Hall: Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art. John Murray, London, 1995.
Martin P:n Nilsson: Olympen. Prisma, Stockholm, 1985.
Stuart Perowne: Roman Mythology. Newnes Books, Feltham, 1983.
John Pinsent: Greek Mythology. Paul Hamlyn, London, &c, 1969.
Gösta Säflund: Att tyda antika bildverk. Paul Åströms förlag, Gothenburg, 1984.
George Thomson: The Prehistoric Aegean. Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1978.

The dates above refer to the latest printings used.

© Susanna Roxman, 2002-2003
PhD in Comparative Literature.
Web site:
Reproduced with the author's permission.