I'm currently writing an essay on Roman gods which are mentioned in the Talmud but I'm having a tricky time finding them, does anyone know any sources?

  • EDIT

Avoda Zora 44b


מתני׳ שאל פרוקלוס בן פלוספוס את ר"ג בעכו שהיה רוחץ במרחץ של אפרודיטי אמר ליה כתוב בתורתכם (דברים יג, יח) לא ידבק בידך מאומה מן החרם מפני מה אתה רוחץ במרחץ של אפרודיטי

MISHNA: A wise gentile, Proclus ben Plospus, once asked a question of Rabban Gamliel in the city of Akko when he was bathing in the bathhouse of the Greek god Aphrodite. Proclus said to him: It is written in your Torah: “And nothing of the proscribed items shall cleave to your hand” (Deuteronomy 13:18). For what reason do you bathe before an idol in the bathhouse of Aphrodite?


Mishna Sanhedrin 7:6

הַזּוֹרֵק אֶבֶן לְמַרְקוּלִיס, זוֹ הִיא עֲבוֹדָתוֹ...

Likewise, one who throws a stone at Mercury is liable to receive capital punishment, as that is its form of worship

  • 2
    How do you know they exist that you chose to write an essay about them? I'm confused
    – Double AA
    Jan 3, 2021 at 18:12
  • 2
    Any particular reason to think that Roman gods would be mentioned in the Talmud?
    – Alex
    Jan 3, 2021 at 18:15
  • 1
    unfortunately I was not given a choice and this was the topic, I've found references to Aphrodite and Mercury (Hermes) but I need more Jan 3, 2021 at 18:15
  • @James_toast If you have already found some references you should edit them into your question, so that answers don't simply reproduce what you already know (as it seems one answer has) rather than providing you with new information.
    – Alex
    Jan 3, 2021 at 18:19
  • @Alex thank you, will do Jan 3, 2021 at 18:20

3 Answers 3


Berachot 57b

תנו רבנן הרואה מרקוליס אומר ברוך שנתן ארך אפים לעוברי רצונו

Our Rabbis taught: If one sees a statue of Hermes, he says, Blessed be He who shows long suffering to those who transgress His will.

(Soncino translation)

The footnote explains:

Heb. Markolis, the Latin Mercurius. This was the commonest of the heathen images.

If we accept this identification, then this would be the Roman god Mercury.


Whilst not an outright mention...

In Avoda Zara 8a it lists some of the festivals that the non-Jews observed:

ואלו אידיהן של עובדי כוכבים קלנדא וסטרנורא וקרטיסים ויום גנוסיא של מלכיהם ויום הלידה ויום המיתה דברי רבי מאיר

And these are the festivals of gentiles: Kalenda, Saturnalia, and Kratesis, and the day of the festival of their kings, and the birthday of the king, and the anniversary of the day of the death of the king. These are the words of Rabbi Meir.

Saturnalia was a Roman festival made in honour of the Roman god - Saturn.

Another option is brought in Bava Metzia 25b where it talks about finding coins in a certain configuration. It writes there:

בעי רב אשי כאבני בית קוליס מהו

Rav Ashi asked, if they were configured like the stones of the house of worship dedicated to the Roman deity Mercury, what is the halakha? (Sefaria translation and notation)

Rashi writes that this "בית קוליס" is a reference to "מרקוליס" which Jastrow explains as being Mercury

  • thank you for the help Jan 3, 2021 at 18:16

This is not a direct answer to what you asked, but there is very good reason for the lack of mention of Roman or other foreign gods in the Talmud. As Maimonides wrote:

The idolaters compiled many books of worship, defining its principle manner of service, its works and its laws; but the Holy One, blessed be He! charged us not to read those books at all, not to think of idolatry generally nor of aught of its details. Moreover, to look at it is forbidden, as it is said: "Turn ye not unto idols" (Lev. 19.4.); and of thinking on this subject it is said: "And that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their god"? (Ibid.), which is a warning that thou shalt not inquire concerning its manner of practice, though thou art not worshiping it, for this very inquiry causes a turning after it and to imitate their practice, as it is further said: "Even so will I do likewise" (Ibid.).

In a comment you said that you were not given a choice of topic, but it might be worth explaining to whoever assigned the essay that their assignment is not realistic, as the Talmud is completely uninterested in the falsehoods of the Romans, and considered their study a complete waste of time.

The Sages taught in a baraita: With regard to writing that is under a picture or under graven images [deyokenaot], it is prohibited to read it on Shabbat lest one end up reading business documents. And with regard to an idolatrous image itself, even on a weekday it is prohibited to look at it, because it says: “Do not turn toward idols [al tifnu el ha’elilim] or make yourselves molten gods, I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:4). The Gemara asks for clarification: What is the biblical derivation? How does this verse indicate that one may not look at an idolatrous image? Rabbi Ḥanin said: Do not push God [al tefannu El] out of your mind by looking at these images.

  • 1
    Thank you for the suggestion, I'm going to write a paragraph on this using these sources Jan 4, 2021 at 16:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .