The Trojan prince Aeneas was cast as husband of Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus, patronymical ancestor of the Latini, and therefore through a convoluted revisionist genealogy as forebear of Romulus and Remus.By extension, the Trojans were adopted as the mythical ancestors of the Roman people.The study of Roman religion and myth is complicated by the early influence of Greek religion on the Italian peninsula during Rome's protohistory, and by the later artistic imitation of Greek literary models by Roman authors.In matters of theology, the Romans were curiously eager to identify their own gods with those of the Greeks (interpretatio graeca), and to reinterpret stories about Greek deities under the names of their Roman counterparts.This perception is a product of Romanticism and the classical scholarship of the 19th century, which valued Greek civilization as more "authentically creative." The Roman tradition is rich in historical myths, or legends, concerning the foundation and rise of the city.These narratives focus on human actors, with only occasional intervention from deities but a pervasive sense of divinely ordered destiny.In Rome's earliest period, history and myth have a mutual and complementary relationship. How does well-meaning authority turn into murderous tyranny?The Roman stories still matter, as they mattered to Dante in 1300 and Shakespeare in 1600 and the founding fathers of the United States in 1776. Major sources for Roman myth include the Aeneid of Vergil and the first few books of Livy's history as well as Dionysius' s Roman Antiquities.
Punishment of Ixion: in the center stands Mercury holding the caduceus, and on the right Juno sits on her throne. On the left Vulcan (the blond figure) stands behind the wheel, manning it, with Ixion already tied to it. - Roman fresco from the eastern wall of the triclinium in the House of the Vettii, Pompeii, Fourth Style (60-79 AD).
According to tradition, Numa Pompilius, the Sabine second king of Rome, founded Roman religion; Numa was believed to have had as his consort and adviser a Roman goddess or nymph of fountains and of prophecy, Egeria.
The Etruscan-influenced Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva later became central to official religion, replacing the Archaic Triad — an unusual example within Indo-European religion of a supreme triad formed of two female deities and only one male.
Rome's early myths and legends also have a dynamic relationship with Etruscan religion, less documented than that of the Greeks.
While Roman mythology may lack a body of divine narratives as extensive as that found in Greek literature, Because Latin literature was more widely known in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, the interpretations of Greek myths by the Romans often had a greater influence on narrative and pictorial representations of "classical mythology" than Greek sources.Although Roman religion did not have a basis in scriptures and exegesis, priestly literature was one of the earliest written forms of Latin prose.