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In ancient Roman religion, Providentia is a divine personification of the ability to foresee and make provision. She was among the embodiments of virtues that were part of the Imperial cult of ancient Rome. Providentia thus figures in art, cult, and literature, but has little or no mythology as such.
Providentia was an important moral and philosophical abstraction in Roman discourse. Cicero says it is one of the three main components of prudentia, “the knowledge of things that are good or bad or neither,” along with memoria, “memory,” and intellegentia, “understanding.” The Latin word is the origin of the Christian concept of divine providence.
Upon the death of Augustus, the emperor Tiberius established an altar to Providentia Augusta in recognition of “the godhead manifested in his father’s provisions for the Roman state.” The cult title Augusta was attached also to such goddesses as Pax, Justitia, and Concordia during the Imperial era. Traditional epithets invoked a deity within a specific functional sphere by declaring their power. The title Augusta thus fixed the divinity’s force within the sphere of the emperor as Augustus.
In 28 AD, after Tiberius arrested and executed Sejanus for conspiracy, the Cult of Virtues played a role in the propaganda that presented the restoration of Imperial order as a return to constitutional government. Sacrifices were offered to Providentia along with Salus (“Security”), Libertas (“Liberty”), and the Genius. Providentia at this time also received a permanent full-time priest (sacerdos) devoted to her. In the wake of the Pisonian conspiracy against Nero, religious observances in 59 AD to repair the state included sacrifices by the Arval Brethren to various deities, among them Providentia.