The personification of health, prosperity, and the public welfare, among the Romans. In the first of these three senses she answers very closely to the Greek Hygieia, and was accordingly represented in works of art with the same attributes as the Greek goddess. In the second sense she represents prosperity in general,1 and was invoked by the husbandmen at seed-time.2 In the third sense Salus is the goddess of the public welfare (Salus publica or Romana). In this capacity a temple had been vowed to her in the year 307 BCE, by the censor C. Junius Bubulcus on the Quirinal hill,3 which was afterwards decorated with paintings by C. Fabius Pictor.4
She was worshiped publicly on the 30th of April, in conjunction with Pax, Concordia, and Janus.5 It had been customary at Rome every year, about the time when the consuls entered upon their office, for the augurs and other high-priests to observe the signs for the purpose of ascertaining the fortunes of the republic during the coming year; this observation of the signs was called augurium Salutis. In the time of Cicero, this ceremony had become a mere matter of form, and neglected; but Augustus restored it, and the custom afterwards remained as long as paganism was the religion of the state.6 This solemnity was conducted with prayers and vows for the good of the people, and the success of the generals and magistrates, and took place on some day on which there was no disturbance, discord, or any thing else which, as a bad omen, might have interfered with the prayers.7 Hence it was regarded as a favorable sign when the people were cheerful and joyous, even to excess, and for this reason the magistrates even allowed themselves to be ridiculed by the people.8
Salus was represented, like Fortuna, with a rudder, a globe at her feet, and sometimes in a sitting posture, pouring from a patera a libation upon an altar, around which a serpent is winding itself.9
- Plautus. Cistellaria iv, 2.76; Terence. The Brothers iv, 7, in fin.; Cicero. For Marcus Fonteius, 6.
- Ovid. Fasti iii, 880; Macrobius, i, 16.
- Livy. The History of Rome ix, 43; x, 1.
- V. Maximus, viii, 14.6; Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia xxxv, 4; Tacitus. Annales xv, 74.
- Ovid. Fasti iii, 881; John Zonaras, x, 34.
- Suetonius. Divus Augustus, 31; Tacitus. Annales xii, 23; Ioannes Lydus. De Mensibus iv, 10; comp. Cicero. De Legibus ii, 8.
- Cicero. De Divinatione i, 47; Divinatio against Q. Caecilius xxxvii, 24; Festus, s.v. Maximum praetorem.
- Lydus, l.c.
- Hirt, A. (1805). Bilderbuch für Mythologie p. 109.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.