Salus (Latin: salus, “safety”, “salvation”, “welfare”)

[1] was a Roman goddess. She was the goddess of safety and well-being (welfare, health and prosperity) of both the individual and the state. She is sometimes equated with the Greek goddess Hygieia, though her functions differ considerably.

Salus is one of the most ancient Roman Goddesses: she is also recorded once as Salus Semonia,[2] a fact that might hint to her belonging to the category of the Semones, such as god Semo Sancus Dius Fidius. This view though is disputed among scholars. The issue is discussed in the section below. The two gods had temples in Rome on the Collis Salutaris and Mucialis respectively,[3] two adjacent hilltops of the Quirinal, located in the regio known as Alta Semita. Her temple, as Salus Publica Populi Romani, was voted in 304 BC, during the Samnite wars, by dictator Gaius Iunius Bubulcus Brutus,[4] dedicated on 5 August 302 and adorned with frescos at the order of Gaius Fabius Pictor.[5]

The high antiquity and importance of her cult is testified by the little-known ceremony of the Augurium Salutis, held every year on August 5 for the preservation of the Roman state.[6] Her cult was spread over all Italy.[7] Literary sources record relationships with Fortuna[8] and Spes.[9] She started to be increasingly associated to Valetudo, the Goddess of Personal Health, which was the real romanized name of Hygieia.

Later she became more a protector of personal health. Around 180 BCE sacrificial rites in honour of Apollo, Aesculapius, and Salus took place there (Livius XL, 37). There was a statue to Salus in the temple of Concordia. She is first known to be associated with the snake of Aesculapius from a coin of 55 BC minted by M. Acilius.[10] Her festival was celebrated on March 30.