Jupiter or Jove was the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder. He was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld.
As a sky god, Jupiter’s identifying implement is the thunderbolt and his primary sacred animal is the eagle, which became one of the most common symbols of the Roman army. The two emblems were often combined to represent the god in the form of an eagle holding in its claws a thunderbolt and was frequently seen on Greek and Roman coins.
Throughout Italy he was worshiped on the summits of hills. His sacred tree was the oak. The midpoint of the month, with a full moon, was sacred to Jupiter because on that day heavenly light shone day and night.
The largest temple in Rome was that of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. Here he was worshipped alongside Juno and Minerva, forming the Capitoline Triad. His temple was not only the most important sanctuary in Rome; it was also the center of political life. Here official offerings were made, treaties were signed and wars were declared, and the triumphant generals of the Roman army came to give their thanks.
Jupiter was the chief deity of the Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. His Greek equivalent was Zeus.
Jupiter was the divine witness to oaths, the sacred trust on which justice and good government depended. People swore to Jupiter/Jove in their courts of law, which lead to the common expression “By Jove,” that many people use today.
Many of his functions were focused on the Capitoline in Rome, where the citadel was located. He was the chief deity of the early Capitoline Triad with Mars and Quirinus. In the later Capitoline Triad, he was the central guardian of the state with Juno and Minerva. When a victorious army returned home the triumphal procession passed to his temple at the Capitol.
Jupiter was not only the great protecting deity of the race, but also one whose worship embodied a distinct moral conception. He is especially concerned with oaths, treaties, and leagues. It was in the presence of his priest that the most ancient and sacred form of marriage took place.
Ancient Roman Marriage Ceremonies
The Romans considered marriage as the fundamental institute and looked upon it as something sacred. All involved the transferring of the father’s authority over the bride, to the new husband.
There were different forms of marriage. The most convenient and the traditional type reserved for Patricians involved the eating of a wheat bread loaf as part of the ceremony. The second form of marriage was the coemptio which involved a contract. The third form of marriage was called Usus which was equal to a man taking the woman after spending an uninterrupted year of living together. Eventually, a fourth form of marriage developed which left the authority over the bride with her father. This form of marriage freed the woman once her father died. Though the authority at first passed to the husband, this eventually weakened and the woman became free to do as she wished with their inheritance. The different forms of marriage had different degrees of rights as well as different difficulties in divorce.