Pietas, translated variously as "duty", "religiosity"[1] or "religious behavior",[2] "loyalty",[3] "devotion", or "filial piety" (English "piety" derives from the Latin), was one of the chief virtues among the ancient Romans. It was the distinguishing virtue of the founding hero Aeneas, who is often given the adjectival epithet pius ("religious") throughout Virgil's epic Aeneid. The sacred nature of pietas was embodied by the divine personification Pietas, a goddess often pictured on Roman coins. The Greek equivalent is eusebeia (εὐσέβεια).[4]

Cicero defined pietas as the virtue "which admonishes us to do our duty to our country or our parents or other blood relations."[5] The man who possessed pietas "performed all his duties towards the deity and his fellow human beings fully and in every respect," as the 19th-century classical scholar Georg Wissowa described it.[6]

Antoninus Pius Coin pieta
Pietas, as a virtue of the emperor Antoninus Pius, represented by a woman offering a sacrifice on the reverse of this sestertius

As virtue

Pietas erga parentes ("pietas toward one's parents") was one of the most important aspects of demonstrating virtue. Pius as a cognomen originated as way to mark a person as especially "pious" in this sense: announcing one's personal pietas through official nomenclature seems to have been an innovation of the late Republic, when Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius claimed it for his efforts to have his father, Numidicus, recalled from exile.[7] Pietas extended also toward "parents" in the sense of "ancestors," and was one of the basic principles of Roman tradition, as expressed by the care of the dead.[8]

Pietas as a virtue resided within a person, in contrast to a virtue or gift such as Victoria, which was given by the gods. Pietas, however, allowed a person to recognize the divine source of benefits conferred.[9]

The first recorded use of pietas in English occurs in Anselm Bayly’s The Alliance of Music, Poetry, and Oratory, published in 1789.[10]


Denarius of Herennius, depicting Pietas and an act of pietas.

Pietas was represented on coin by cult objects, but also as a woman conducting a sacrifice by means of fire at an altar.[11] In the imagery of sacrifice, libation was the fundamental act that came to symbolize pietas.[12]

Pietas is first represented on Roman coins on denarii issued by Marcus Herennius in 108 or 107 BC.[13] Pietas appears on the obverse as a divine personification, in bust form; the quality of pietas is represented by a son carrying his father on his back; the symbolism of which would be echoed in Virgil's Aeneid, with Aeneas carrying his father Anchises out of the burning Troy.[14] Pietas is among the virtues that appear frequently on Imperial coins, including those issued under Hadrian.[15]

One of the symbols of pietas was the stork, described by Petronius as pietaticultrix, "cultivator of pietas." The stork represented filial piety in particular, as the Romans believed that it demonstrated family loyalty by returning to the same nest every year, and that it took care of its parents in old age. As such, a stork appears next to Pietas on a coin issued by Metellus Pius (on whose cognomen see above).[16]

As goddess

Bronze-Flavia Maximiana Theodora-trier RIC 65
Flavia Maximiana Theodora on the obverse, on the reverse Pietas holding infant to her breast.

Pietas was the divine presence in everyday life that cautioned humans not to intrude on the realm of the gods.[17] Violations of pietas required a piaculum, expiatory rites.[18]

A temple to Pietas was vowed (votum) by Manius Acilius Glabrio at the Battle of Thermopylae in 191 BC.[19]

According to a miraculous legend (miraculum),[20] a poor woman who was starving in prison was saved when her daughter gave her breast milk (compare Roman Charity). Caught in the act, the daughter was not punished, but recognized for her pietas. Mother and daughter were set free, and given public support for the rest of their lives. The site was regarded as sacred to the goddess Pietas (consecratus deae) because she had chosen to manifest her presence there.[21] The story exemplified pietas erga parentes, the proper devotion one ought to show to one's parents.[22]

Imperial women portrayed as Pietas

Pietas was often depicted as goddess on the reverse of Roman Imperial coins, with women of the imperial family on the obverse,[23] as an appropriate virtue to be attributed to them. Women of the Imperial family might be portrayed in art in the goddess's guise.

Dupondius-Livia-RIC 0043v

Livia as Pietas

See also


  1. ^ Jonathan Williams, "Religion and Roman Coins," in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 156.
  2. ^ Nicole Belayche, "Religious Actors in Daily Life: Practices and Related Beliefs," in A Companion to Roman Religion, p. 279.
  3. ^ Frank Bernstein, "Complex Rituals: Games and Processions in Republican Rome," in A Companion to Roman Religion, p. 227.
  4. ^ J. Rufus Fears, "The Cult of Virtues and Roman Imperial Ideology," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.17.2 (1981), pp. 864–865.
  5. ^ Cicero, De inventione 2.22.66 (pietatem, quae erga patriam aut parentes aut alios sanguine coniunctos officium conservare moneat), as quoted by Hendrik Wagenvoort, Pietas: Selected Studies in Roman Religion (Brill, 1980), p. 7.
  6. ^ As quoted by Wagenvort, Pietas, p. 7.
  7. ^ Fears, "The Cult of Virtues," p. 880.
  8. ^ Stefan Heid, "The Romanness of Roman Christianity," in A Companion to Roman Religion, p. 408.
  9. ^ Fears, "The Cult of Virtues," p. 878.
  10. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford English Dictionary Online. Web. 28 Jan. 2010.
  11. ^ Belayche, "Religious Actors in Daily Life," p. 286.
  12. ^ John Scheid, "Sacrifices for Gods and Ancestors," in A Companion to Roman Religion, p. 265.
  13. ^ Fears, "The Cult of Virtues," p. 880.
  14. ^ Fears, "The Cult of Virtues," p. 880.
  15. ^ J. Rufus Fears, "The Theology of Victory at Rome: Approaches and Problem," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.17.2 (1981), p. 813.
  16. ^ Pliny, Natural History 10.63; Anna Clark, Divine Qualities: Cult and Community in Republican Rome (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 154–155; Catherine Connors, Petronius the Poet (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 59.
  17. ^ As expressed by Cicero, De Legibus 2.22; Belayche, "Religious Actors in Daily Life," p. 286.
  18. ^ Belayche, "Religious Actors in Daily Life," p. 286.
  19. ^ Livy 40.34.4; Fears, "The Theology of Victory at Rome," pp. 741–742, and "The Cult of Virtues," p. 835.
  20. ^ Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.121; Valerius Maximus 5.4.7, as cited by Fears, "The Theology of Victory," p. 742, note 10.
  21. ^ Fears, "The Theology of Victory," p. 742; "The Cult of Virtues," p. 880.
  22. ^ Fears, "The Cult of Virtues," p. 880.
  23. ^ Roman Coins Issued During the Reign of Emperor Hadrian, Dig4Coins.com.

The Aeneid (; Latin: Aeneis [ae̯ˈneːɪs]) is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It comprises 9,896 lines in dactylic hexameter. The first six of the poem's twelve books tell the story of Aeneas's wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem's second half tells of the Trojans' ultimately victorious war upon the Latins, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed.

The hero Aeneas was already known to Greco-Roman legend and myth, having been a character in the Iliad. Virgil took the disconnected tales of Aeneas's wanderings, his vague association with the foundation of Rome and his description as a personage of no fixed characteristics other than a scrupulous pietas, and fashioned the Aeneid into a compelling founding myth or national epic that tied Rome to the legends of Troy, explained the Punic Wars, glorified traditional Roman virtues, and legitimized the Julio-Claudian dynasty as descendants of the founders, heroes, and gods of Rome and Troy.

The Aeneid is widely regarded as Virgil's masterpiece and one of the greatest works of Latin literature.


Aequitas (genitive aequitatis) is the Latin concept of justice, equality, conformity, symmetry, or fairness. It is the origin of the English word "equity". In ancient Rome, it could refer to either the legal concept of equity, or fairness between individuals.Cicero defined aequitas as "tripartite": the first, he said, pertained to the gods above (ad superos deos) and is equivalent to pietas, religious obligation; the second, to the Manes, the underworld spirits or spirits of the dead, and was sanctitas, that which is sacred; and the third pertaining to human beings (homines) was iustitia, "justice".During the Roman Empire, Aequitas as a divine personification was part of the religious propaganda of the emperor, under the name Aequitas Augusti, which also appeared on coins. She is depicted on coins holding a cornucopiae and a balance scale (libra), which was more often a symbol of "honest measure" to the Romans than of justice.

Arch of Pietas

The Arch of Pietas (Latin : Arcus Pietatis) was an ancient Roman triumphal arch to the north of the Pantheon on the Campus Martius in Rome.

Barbarous radiate

Barbarous radiates are imitations of the antoninianus, a type of coin issued during the Roman Empire, which are so named due to their crude style and prominent radiant crown worn by the emperor.

Barbarous radiates were issued privately primarily during the Crisis of the Third Century in the western provinces. They are not generally regarded as forgeries since they were smaller than standard issues and probably functioned as small change.Although earlier numismatists, notably Philip V. Hill, theorized that barbarous radiates were produced long after their prototypes and into the Dark Ages and Saxon period, more recent works argue that they were generally contemporary to their prototypes.According to Hill, in England, although barbarous radiates were clearly produced at several different locations, hoard evidence demonstrate local styles. For example, in northern England there was a greater affinity towards producing barbarous radiates with reverse figures with relief-less outlines, while in southern England bolder, fuller, high relief figures were more common. Similar "schools of art" exist for pieces produced in continental Europe.

Due to their unofficial manufacture, barbarous radiates exhibit many peculiarities. Reverse types portray a certain deity or personification, for example Spes, might feature a reverse legend instead for Pietas. On some specimens the devices normally associated with one deity or personification is shown with a different deity or personification. For example, the sceptre, which is normally a device of Pax, is instead shown with Pietas. The result is a generic reverse personification or deity.

Legends of barbarous radiates range from correct and exact copies of the prototype, to a jumble of unintelligible, meaningless letters and symbols. Smaller pieces known as minims, which are less than 10 mm in diameter, are often anepigraphic. For very degraded barbarous imitations, there is a tendency to emphasize a particular feature of the prototype, in this case the radiate crown.

The most frequently imitated prototypes are of the Gallic emperors the Tetrici (270-273), Tetricus I and his son, Tetricus II. The next most frequent are those of Claudius II (270), especially the posthumous issue with the altar reverse, and Victorinus (268-270). Imitations of Postumus antoniniani are scarce, although imitations of his large bronzes (such as the double sestertius) are relatively common. Other uncommon to rare types in order of frequency are Gallienus, Quintillus, Probus, Aurelian, and Tacitus.

Caeca et Obdurata

Caeca et Obdurata Hebraeorum perfidia (named for its Latin incipit, meaning the blind and obdurate perfidy of the Hebrews) was a papal bull, promulgated by Pope Clement VIII on February 25, 1593, which expelled the Jews from the Papal States, effectively revoking the bull Christiana pietas (1586) of his predecessor Pope Sixtus V. Prior to 1586, Pope Pius V's bull Hebraeorum gens sola (1569) had restricted Jews in the Papal States to Rome and Ancona.The bull was a culmination of Clement VIII's tightening of the anti-Jewish measures of his predecessors which began with his elevation to the papacy in 1592. The bull gave Jews three months to leave the Papal States (with the exception of Rome, Ancona, and the Comtat Venaissin of Avignon). The main effect of the bull was to evict Jews who had returned to areas of the Papal States (mainly Umbria) after 1586 (following their expulsion in 1569) and to expel Jewish communities from cities like Bologna (which had been incorporated under papal dominion since 1569).

For the Jews remaining within Rome, Ancona, or the Comtat Venaissin, the bull re-established mandatory weekly sermons. The bull also resulted in the relocation of Jewish cemeteries to Ferrara and Mantua.The bull alleged that Jews in the Papal States had engaged in usury and exploited the hospitality of Clement VIII's predecessors "who, in order to lead them from their darkness to knowledge of the true faith, deemed it opportune to use the clemency of Christian piety towards them" (alluding to Christiana pietas).Three days later, on February 28, Clement VIII promulgated Quum Hebraeorum malitia, decreeing that the Talmud should be burnt along with cabalistic works and commentaries, which gave the owners of such works 10 days to turn them over to the Universal Inquisition in Rome and subsequently two months to hand them over to local inquisitors.

Forum Holitorium

The Forum Holitorium (Italian: Foro Olitorio; English: Vegetable-sellers' Market) was the site of a commercial marketplace (macellum) for vegetables, herbs and oil in ancient Rome. It was "oddly located" outside the Porta Carmentalis in the Campus Martius, crowded between the Forum Boarium ("Cattle Market") and buildings located in the Circus Flaminius.


Gravitas was one of the Roman virtues, along with pietas, dignitas, and virtus, that were particularly appreciated in leaders. Evidence shows that it was most likely influenced by the Greek virtue of Arete. It may be translated variously as weight, seriousness, dignity, and importance and connotes a certain substance or depth of personality. It also conveys a sense of responsibility and commitment to the task. In the British education system, gravitas was seen as one of the pillars of the moral formation of the English gentleman during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.In the UK House of Commons, the quality is known as "bottom".

Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter, BWV 193a

Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter (Ye houses of heaven, ye radiant lights), BWV 193.1 (formerly BWV 193a), is a secular cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach first performed on 3 August 1727. The music is lost, but it can be partially reconstructed as several movements (including the opening chorus) are known to have shared music with Ihr Tore zu Zion, BWV 193.2, a church cantata which was premiered around three weeks after Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter.


Lausus was the son of the ousted Etruscan king Mezentius, and fought with him against Aeneas and the Trojans in Italy. He appears in Virgil's Aeneid in Books VII and X. When his father is wounded by Aeneas, Lausus steps in between them, and Aeneas strikes them down. In doing so, Lausus embodies the idea of pietas that Virgil praises throughout, exemplified in the relationships of Anchises and Aeneas and of Pallas and Evander. Aeneas immediately feels remorse for having killed the boy, and reproaches Lausus' men for keeping a distance rather than caring for the body: "Then to the stripling's tardy followers / he sternly called, and lifted from the earth / with his own hand the fallen foe: dark blood / defiled those princely tresses braided fair."Lausus is considered a foil to Pallas, the son of King Evander: both are young, come down from royal blood, are handsome, strong, full of filial piety, and both die at the hands of greater heroes.

List of Roman triumphal arches

For the history of triumphal arches, see Triumphal arch.

For post-Roman triumphal arches, see List of post-Roman triumphal arches.This is a list of Roman triumphal arches. All currently surviving Roman arches date from the imperial period (1st century BC onwards). They were preceded by honorific arches

set up under the Roman Republic, none of which survive. Triumphal arches were constructed across the Roman Empire and remain one of the most iconic examples of Roman architecture.

Mos maiorum

The mos maiorum (Classical Latin: [mɔs majˈjoː.rum]; "ancestral custom" or "way of the ancestors," plural mores, cf. English "mores"; maiorum is the genitive plural of "greater" or "elder") is the unwritten code from which the ancient Romans derived their social norms. It is the core concept of Roman traditionalism, distinguished from but in dynamic complement to written law. The mos maiorum was collectively the time-honoured principles, behavioural models, and social practices that affected private, political, and military life in ancient Rome.

Nisus and Euryalus

Nisus and Euryalus are a pair of friends and lovers serving under Aeneas in the Aeneid, the Augustan epic by Virgil. Their foray among the enemy, narrated in Book nine, demonstrates their stealth and prowess as warriors, but ends as a tragedy: the loot Euryalus acquires (a glistening Rutulian helmet) attracts attention, and the two die together. Virgil presents their deaths as a loss of admirable loyalty and valor. They also appear in Book 5, during the funeral games of Anchises, where Virgil takes note of their amor pius, a love that exhibits the pietas that is Aeneas's own distinguishing virtue.In describing the bonds of devotion between the two men, Virgil draws on conventions of erotic poetry that have suggested a romantic relationship to some, interpreted by scholars in light of the Greek custom of paiderastia.

Ordinum Hollandiae ac Westfrisiae pietas

Ordinum Hollandiae ac Westfrisiae pietas (The Piety of the States of Holland and Westfriesland) is a 1613 book on church polity by Hugo Grotius. It was the first publication of Grotius, a prominent jurist and Remonstrant, concerned with the Calvinist-Arminian debate and its ramifications, a major factor in the politics of the Netherlands in the 1610s. The Ordinum pietas, as it is known for short, gave a commentary on the Five Articles of Remonstrance of 1610 that were the legacy of the theological views of Jacobus Arminius, who died in 1609.


A pietà (Italian pronunciation: [pjeˈta]; meaning "pity", "compassion") is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ. When Christ and the Virgin are surrounded by other figures from the New Testament, the subject is strictly called a lamentation in English, although pietà is often used for this as well, and is the normal term in Italian.


Pittance (through Old French pitance and from Latin pietas, loving-kindness) is a gift to the members of a religious house for masses, consisting usually of an extra allowance of food or wine on occasions such as the anniversary of the donor's death festivals and other similar occasions. The word was early transferred to a charitable donation and to any small gift of food or money.

Pola (Italian province)

Pola (Italian province) or Province of Pola (in Italian "Provincia di Pola") was a province of the Kingdom of Italy created after World War I, that officially existed from 1923 until 1947. The capital ("Capoluogo" in Italian) was Pola.


Pula (Croatian pronunciation: [pǔːla] (listen); Italian and Istro-Romanian: Pola) is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia and the eighth largest city in the country, situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula, with a population of 57,460 in 2011. It is known for its multitude of ancient Roman buildings, the most famous of which is the Pula Arena, one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters, and its beautiful sea. The city has a long tradition of wine making, fishing, shipbuilding, and tourism. It was the administrative centre of Istria from ancient Roman times until superseded by Pazin in 1991.

Sibrandus Lubbertus

Sibrandus Lubbertus (c.1555–1625) (also referred to as Sibrand Lubbert or Sybrandus Lubbertus) was a Dutch Calvinist theologian and was a professor of theology at the University of Franeker for forty years from the institute's foundation in 1585. He was a prominent participant in the Synod of Dort (1618–1619). His primary works were to counter Roman Catholic doctrine (especially that championed by Robert Bellarmine) and to oppose Socinianism and Arminianism.

Sì (Andrea Bocelli album)

Sì is the sixteenth studio album by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, released on 26 October 2018. It is Bocelli's first album of original material in 14 years, his last being Andrea (2004). Bocelli duets with his son Matteo Bocelli on "Fall on Me", and Ed Sheeran provides vocals on and also co-wrote "Amo soltanto te", which marks the second collaboration between Bocelli and Sheeran after the latter's "Perfect Symphony" in 2017. Dua Lipa and Josh Groban also appear on the album.The deluxe edition of the album includes several bonus tracks, while another deluxe edition adds a bonus disc featuring mostly Spanish versions of the main tracks, as well as a French version of "Ali di libertà" and a Mandarin version of "If Only" with Taiwanese singer A-Mei. The album was BBC Radio 2's Album of the Week, with several of the tracks making their world premieres on the network.The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and US Billboard 200, becoming Bocelli's first number-one album in both countries. It is the first classical album to peak at number one in 20 years in the United Kingdom and 10 years in the United States.

Legendary figures
Concepts and practices
See also

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