Neptune (mythology)

God of the seas
Sousse neptune.jpg
A velificans of Neptune in his seahorse-drawn triumphal chariot from the mid-3rd century AD - Sousse Archaeological Museum.
SymbolHorse, Trident, Dolphin, and Bull
FestivalsNeptunalia; Lectisternium
Personal information
ChildrenTriton, Proteus, Rhodes, and Benthesicyme
ParentsSaturn and Ops
SiblingsJupiter, Pluto, Juno, Ceres, Vesta
Greek equivalentPoseidon

Neptune (Latin: Neptūnus [nɛpˈtuːnʊs]) was the god of freshwater and the sea[1] in Roman religion. He is the counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon.[2] In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto; the brothers presided over the realms of Heaven, the earthly world, and the Underworld.[3] Salacia was his wife.

Depictions of Neptune in Roman mosaics, especially those of North Africa, are influenced by Hellenistic conventions.[4] Neptune was likely associated with fresh water springs before the sea.[5] Like Poseidon, Neptune was worshipped by the Romans also as a god of horses, under the name Neptunus Equester, a patron of horse-racing.[6]


The etymology of Latin Neptunus is unclear and disputed. The ancient grammarian Varro derived the name from nuptus i.e. "covering" (opertio), with a more or less explicit allusion to the nuptiae, "marriage of Heaven and Earth".[7]

Among modern scholars Paul Kretschmer proposed a derivation from IE *neptu- "moist substance".[8] Similarly Raymond Bloch supposed it might be an adjectival form in -no from *nuptu-, meaning "he who is moist".[9] Georges Dumézil though remarked words deriving root *nep- are not attested in IE languages other than Vedic and Avestan. He proposed an etymology that brings together Neptunus with Vedic and Avestan theonyms Apam Napat, Apam Napá and Old Irish theonym Nechtan, all meaning descendant of the waters. By using the comparative approach the Indo-Iranian, Avestan and Irish figures would show common features with the Roman historicised legends about Neptune. Dumézil thence proposed to derive the nouns from IE root *nepot-, "descendant, sister's son".[10][11]

More recently, in his lectures delivered on various occasions in the 1990s, German scholar Hubert Petersmann proposed an etymology from IE rootstem *nebh- related to clouds and fogs, plus suffix -tu denoting an abstract verbal noun, and adjectival suffix -no which refers to the domain of activity of a person or his prerogatives. IE root *nebh-, having the original meaning of "damp, wet", has given Sanskrit nábhah, Hittite nepis, Latin nubs, nebula, German Nebel, Slavic nebo etc. The concept would be close to that expressed in the name of Greek god Όυράνος (Uranus), derived from IE root *h2wórso-, "to water, irrigate" and *h2worsó-, "the irrigator".[12][13] This etymology would be more in accord with Varro's.

A different etymology grounded in the legendary history of Latium and Etruria was proposed by Preller and Müller-Deeke: Etruscan Nethunus, Nethuns would be an adjectival form of toponym Nepe(t), Nepete (presently Nepi), town of the ager Faliscus near Falerii. The district was traditionally connected to the cult of the god: Messapus and Halesus, the eponymous hero of Falerii, were believed to be his own sons. Messapus led the Falisci and others to war in the Aeneid.[14] Nepi and Falerii have been famed since antiquity for the excellent quality of the water of their springs, scattered in meadows. Nepet is considered a hydronymic toponym of pre-Indo-European origin widespread in Europe and from an appellative meaning "damp wide valley, plain", cognate with pre-Greek νάπη, "wooded valley".[15]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Neptunus
azərbaycanca: Neptun (mifologiya)
беларуская: Нептун (міфалогія)
brezhoneg: Neptunus
eesti: Neptunus
Ελληνικά: Νεπτούνους
Esperanto: Neptuno (dio)
한국어: 넵투누스
Bahasa Indonesia: Neptunus (mitologi)
interlingua: Neptuno (deo)
íslenska: Neptúnus (guð)
Kiswahili: Neptuni
Lëtzebuergesch: Neptun (Mythologie)
norsk nynorsk: Guden Neptun
occitan: Neptune
Piemontèis: Netun
саха тыла: Нептун (таҥара)
Simple English: Neptune (mythology)
slovenčina: Neptún (boh)
slovenščina: Neptun (mitologija)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Neptun (mitologija)
українська: Нептун (міфологія)
Tiếng Việt: Neptune (thần thoại)
中文: 尼普顿