Ex Voto: In Fulfilment of a Vow

October 2013 to October 2014

In the Roman world, religion was contractual. Individuals would   petition the gods, vowing offerings in return. If the request was granted, a votive was given to satisfy the terms of the agreement. The Latin phrase ex voto originally referred to this practice of giving offerings, but over time the offerings themselves also became known as ex voto

An ex voto could take numerous different forms. The simplest were small offerings of ‘first fruits,’ organic materials vital to the agricultural abundance of ancient Rome, but hard to find in the archaeological record. More common are the many examples of thanks-offerings from the Roman military, or the anatomical figurines of individuals seeking divine help with various medical complaints. Votives were also given in anticipation of a vow, and could range from lavish public dedications to simple supplications for the household Lares.

Curated by Dr Janette McWilliam, Mr Daniel Patrick Press, Ms Adalia Draghici, Ms Teresa Smalberger, and Ms Catherine Smallcombe