Fides (deity)

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Sestertius struck ca. 112 AD, depicting Pompeia Plotina, the Augusta of the emperor Trajan, with Fides on the reverse

Fides (Latin: Fidēs) was the goddess of trust, faithfulness, and good faith (bona fides) in ancient Roman religion.[1][2] Fides was one of the original virtues to be cultivated as a divinity with ceremonies and temples.[3]

Fides Publica holding a cornucopia and extending a libation bowl on the reverse of a dupondius issued by Vespasian 77–78 AD

Fides embodies everything that is required for "honour and credibility, from fidelity in marriage, to contractual arrangements, and the obligation soldiers owed to Rome."[4] Fides also means reliability, "reliability between two parties, which is always reciprocal." and "bedrock of relations between people and their communities",[5] and then it was turned into a Roman deity and from which we gain the English word, 'fidelity'.[6]

Under the name Fides Publica Populi Romani ("Public Trust of the Roman People"),[7] she may be exemplified in Marcus Atilius Regulus, "who refuses to save himself at the expense of the Republic. Regulus defied his own best interests for those of his country. In this act alone, he acted with fides."[4]


Fides is represented as a young woman crowned with an olive or laurel wreath,[2] holding in her hand a turtle-dove,[1] fruits or grain,[2] or a military ensign. She wears a white veil.[1]

Reverse of an aureus issued ca. 218-219 under Elagabalus, with the legend FIDES EXERCITVS ("loyalty of the army"); Fides, enthroned, regards a military standard

Temple and ceremonies[edit]

The Temple of Fides on the Capitoline Hill[1] was associated with the Fides Publica or Fides Publica Populi Romani.[8] Dedicated by Aulus Atilius Calatinus,[when?] and restored by Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, the structure was surrounded by a display of bronze tables of laws and treaties, and was occasionally used for Senate meetings.[8]

According to tradition, Rome's second king, Numa Pompilius, instituted a yearly ceremony on 1 October devoted to Fides Publica, in which the three flamines maiores (major priests)—the Dialis, Martialis, and Quirinalis—were to be borne to her temple in a covered arched chariot drawn by two horses.[1] There they should conduct her services with their heads covered and right hands wrapped up to the fingers to indicate absolute devotion to her and to symbolise trust.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Peck, Harry Thurston (1898). "Fides (2)". Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York: Harper and Brothers.
  2. ^ a b c  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSchmitz, Leonhard (1870). "Fides". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Latin Word Study Tool, Perseus Project, Tufts University.
  3. ^ Adams, John Paul (May 2009). "The Roman Concept of Fides". Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures College of Humanities, California State University Northridge.
  4. ^ a b Perley, Sara. "Fides Romana: Aspects of fides in Roman diplomatic relations during the conquest of Iberia" (PDF). University of Otago. Retrieved 15 May 2019.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "God of the Month: Fides". Neptune's Dolphins. 4 October 2017.
  6. ^ Pfingsten, Max. "Roman Virtues and Stoicism -" (PDF). Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  7. ^ Samuel Ball Platner (revised by Thomas Ashby) (1929). "Aedes Fidei". A Topography of Ancient Rome. p. 209.
  8. ^ a b L. Richardson, Jr., A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992).
  9. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:21