In ancient Roman religion, a votum, plural vota, is a vow or promise made to a deity. The word comes from the past participle of the Latin verbvoveo, vovere, "vow, promise". As the result of this verbal action, a votum is also that which fulfills a vow, that is, the thing promised, such as offerings, a statue, or even a temple building. The votum is thus an aspect of the contractual nature of Roman religion, a bargaining expressed by do ut des, "I give that you might give."
Votive statue for the god Silvanus; the inscription ends with the abbreviation V.S.L.M. (votum solvit libens merito)
In everyday life, individuals might make votive offerings to a deity for private concerns. Vota privata are attested in abundance by inscriptions, particularly for the later Imperial era. These are regularly marked with the letters V.S.L.M., votum solvit libens merito, noting that the person making the dedication "He has fulfilled his vow, willingly, as it should." William Warde Fowler found in these offerings "expressions of … religious feeling" and a gratitude for blessings received that go deeper than contractual formalism.