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The Italian god of the sea, husband of Salacia, the goddess of salt water (Varro, L. L. v. 72), and identified by the Romans with the Greek Poseidon. This identification dated from B.C. 399, when a lectisternium (q. v.) was ordained in his honour by the Sibylline Books (Livy, v. 13). Like Poseidon, he was worshipped as god of the sea and of equestrian accomplishments. As such he had a temple in the Circus Flaminius, while in the Circus Maximus the old Italian god Consus had an altar in a similar capacity. In after-times Agrippa built a temple and portico to Neptune on the Field of Mars, in honour of his naval victory over Sextus Pompeius and Antonius. A festival of Neptune (Neptunalia), accompanied by games, was celebrated on July 23. The old harbour-god of the Romans was Portunus (q.v.). The original conception of Neptunus was of a god presiding over rivers and springs, as the early Romans had little to do with the sea. The wider view which made him primarily a sea-god is possibly due to the influence of the Etruscan religion in which Neptune (Nethuns) was so regarded. See Poseidon.

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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 13
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