The past was reinvented in the Augustan culture through true or fictitious archaic cults, and this paper deals with some priesthoods related to sacred groves, or with the iconography of sacred luci appearing in some coins. Some examples are considered, such as an inscription from Peñaflor/Celti (Seville) mentioning a pontufex nemoris, a reference to the eques P. Aelius Marcellus, who appears in an epigraph from Umbria not only as Laurens Lavinas but also as flamen lucularis, or some images that document the reception of ancient notions of the sacred groves in the Roman provinces, as some recurrent types in the coins of Juba II of Mauritania depicting trees with an altar between them and the legend Lucus Augusti show. The question of whether these manifestations are merely expression of loyalism to the Emperor or whether they might imply some kind of local tradition is also posed.
The epigraphic expression of plural female divinities, represented sometimes in triads, is a feature of Romano-Celtic realms. This is the case of the Matres and Matronae, as well as the Fortunae, with epithets expressing the local identity of the divine personality – or of their cult group – in an increasingly globalized world such as the Roman Empire.
In this context, my aim is to focus on the Iunones. We have about 70 inscriptions dedicated to these deities, sometimes appearing with the epitet Augustae, others as Matronae, Montanae, Domesticae, Suleviae, associated with other deities such as IOM, Hercules, Genius Loci or the Augustorum Numina, or assimilated to the Gabiae. The sacred geography of the Iunones includes Italy (with a higher density in Venetia and Histria, but with manifestations in Transpadana, Umbria, Aemilia, Latium and Campania), but they are also testamented in diverse provinces of Celtic tradition, such as Germania Inferior, Noricum, Belgium, Aquitania, Lugdunensis or Narbonensis. The analysis of individual or collective dedicants, the activities commemorated in the altars, and the processes that make visible – at a regional or local level – these goddesses in theonyms related to the Roman Iuno, are the aims of this paper.
Recent research has increasingly questioned the “grand dichotomy” between “Paganism” and Christianity and brings into light the prominence of spaces with shared meanings in diverse cults related to mystic beliefs and practices. An excellent example is Vibia's tomb within Praetextatus' catacomb, on the Via Appia. Dated to the 4th century AD, this place combines epigraphy and a fascinating iconography pointing to a mystic initiation of the deceased within a syncretic context.