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Comic History of Rome[edit]

Discovery of the head of Summanus, from the Comic History of Rome

Some soul with a sense of humor posted this to Commons. Here's the source, with many other goodies. (The suckling she-wolf as the disguised wolf from Little Red Riding Hood.) Cynwolfe (talk) 14:08, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Etruscan (?) Summanus[edit]

I've had this on my desktop for some time, and an excerpt might be useful. From Eric M. Orlin, "Foreign Cults in Republican Rome: Rethinking the Pomerial Rule", Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Vol. 47 (2002), pp. 1-18. The following is from p.12:

'The temple to the Etruscan god Summanus, built fourteen years prior to that of Vortumnus, provides an even more interesting example, [of the importation of foreign cults - italics are mine] that this temple was constructed neither as a sanctuary specifically for foreigners nor as a result of a military campaign. Instead, the temple was built after lightning struck the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the quintessential Roman divinity, and knocked a statue off its pediment; when the head of the statue could not be found, haruspices were summoned who located the spot where it might be situated, and a temple was subsequently erected to Summanus. According to Pliny the Elder (Hist. Nat. 2.53), Summanus was the Etruscan god of night lightning and thus potentially the counterpart of Jupiter, who hurled thunderbolts by day. B. MacBain has argued that only from this point onward do the haruspices appear as regular participants in the religious machinery of the Roman state and that it is "difficult to overlook the coincidence of the final political settlement of Etruria in, or shortly before, 278 B.C. with the first fully believable notice of the activity of haruspices in Rome."' So at the exact moment when Rome was attempting to integrate the cities of Etruria politically, it integrated both an Etruscan divinity and Etruscan priests into its religious system. The location of the temple on the slopes of the Aventine cannot be coincidental. Again the Aventine served not to exclude this member of the Etruscan pantheon but to assist him in making the transition to Rome and to assist in the incorporation of the Etruscan cities at the same time.'

For MacBain's hypotheseis, see MacBain, B., Prodigy and Expiation: A Study in Religion and Politics in Republican Rome, Lutomer, (Brussels, 1982). Alas, I've no access to that. Haploidavey (talk) 16:12, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

The only Etruscan god that fits here is of course not Summamus but S'uri. See Bakkum and Bakkum Faliscan Inscriptions: 150 years of study 2009 (online) chapt. 3. S'uri is the Etruscan Pluto but also explicitly from inscriptions an underworld Apollo. He received a cult at Falerii Veteres by members of traditional priest families of Sabine descent. The Sabines worshipped this god on Mount Soracte (hirpi sorani): he was represented as a wolf headed man or bearing a wolf head as a hat. As Cynwolf wrote on my talk page the solar god was also supposed to be the god of the underworld as the sun after setting in the West would shine in the underworld. I do not know what are the primary sources on which Orlin and MacBain base their argument. Cicero de Div. maybe says haruspices, I shall check, but are just a few words. Platner says this interpretation of Summanus as Dis Pater is possible and their temple was perhaps the same one, but there is just one source which hints to the temple of Dis Pater.

Probably there were many similar mountains in ancient times devoted to the cult of this underworld sun god: cf. Mt. Somma, Musine' near Torino etc. Maybe because they had the fame of being sinister places.Aldrasto11 (talk) 07:18, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes Cicero says haruspices. D. writes the haruspices were consulted only 3 times during the republic til the 2nd Punic war according to annalistica (Livy?), on one these occasions being cheated (Aulus Gellius 4, 5: on the placing of the statue of Horatius Cocles). It looks the 2nd time was Summanus's. However since this time was well before the date of the end of wars with Etrurians I do not see how their argument could hold.

Moreover Summanus was not a new god at all if he had a statue In fastigio templi I. O. M.. It could be argued though that this temple was Etruscan in its design and inspiration.Aldrasto11 (talk) 12:22, 11 December 2010 (UTC)


Aldrasto, could you please pay more attention to how the material is organized? You now, for instance, have the clay statue getting struck by lightning in two different places. This is very confusing. It seems we are talking about two different lightning strikes, one that preceded the 3rd-century founding, and one in 197. It's even more confusing if you go back and forth between the two. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:17, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes, you interpreted my edits correctly: I meant to say exactly that, i.e. that first the clay statue was struck before 276 or 278 (could you pls. help me check this, someone writes 278), then the temple of Summanus was struck again in 197 B. C. This is what Platner says citing Livy. Other WP as the It. have messed this up. I think though my writing is clear enough.Aldrasto11 (talk) 08:55, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, clear — just needed to be moved around a little to help with the inherent confusion of having two lightning strkes associated with the one deity and his statue/temple. Sorry if I sounded irritable. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:47, 11 December 2010 (UTC)


I found this entry in Festus. However the Teubner ed. online gives only p. 474 completely. This one says liba farinacea in modum rotae fincta. It looks p. 557 has a longer definiton however.

Savagner has only the 2 identical entries corresponding to p. 474 and 475 L.

I do not know if the mention of milk and honey comes from Festus or elsewhere.Aldrasto11 (talk) 12:04, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

My doubt has to do with "solar" wheels. I believe Festus says they're rota in shape, but that "solar" sounds like an interpretation from the time when there was a craze for "solar gods" — though wheel of the sky makes sense here. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:55, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

Soranus Pater[edit]

The hirpi sorani of whom I hinted here above (on those present at Falerii) were devoted to the cult of Soranus Pater, the god of Mount Soracte. That is to the cult of the god the Etruscan named S'uri. I wonder whether it can be inferred from the cult enjoyed by Summanus on Mount Summanus if this indicates a relationship between (some) mountain-gods and the concept of an underworld god.

The symbolism of the cosmic mountain/cosmic tree is of course ambivalent as it is an axis mundi and as such it must connect the 3 worlds.Aldrasto11 (talk) 13:09, 21 December 2010 (UTC)