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Interpretatio Romana



Interpretatio Romana refers to the identification of a foreign god as a Roman one. Tacitus uses the term interpretatio Romana in Germania 43.4. Ando says this is the only extant use of the term in Latin literature. Commonly, it is thought that for the purposes of interpretatio romana, a god of a non-roman culture was the same as the Roman god, with the salient difference being the name.

Source: "Interpretatio Romana," by Clifford Ando; Classical Philology 100 (2005): 41-51

Parallel to the interpretatio romana was a process whereby the invaded people accepted the comparability of Roman gods with their native deities. In "Cernunnos: Origin and Transformation of a Celtic Divinity" (by Phyllis Fray Bober American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 55, No. 1 (Jan., 1951), pp. 13-51), Bober writes: "... indigenous population's readiness to accept for their religious personalities, often aniconic, the artistic types and names of those Roman divinities whose natures may include one or more parallel functions-interpretatio gallica."

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