CONSUS, an ancient Italian deity, originally a god of agriculture. The time at which his festival was held (after harvest and seed-sowing), the nature of its ceremonies and amusements, his altar at the end of the Circus Maximus always covered with earth except on such occasions, all point to his connexion with the earth. In accordance with this, the name has been derived from condere (= Condius, as the "keeper" of grain or the "hidden" god, whose life-producing influence works in the depths of the earth). Another etymology is from conserere ("sow," cf. Ops Consiva and her festival Opiconsivia). Amongst the ancients (Livy i. 9; Dion. Halic. ii. 31) Census was most commonly identified with (Neptunus Equester), and in later Latin poets Consus is used for Neptunus, but this idea was due to the horse and chariot races which took place at his festival; otherwise, the two deities have nothing in common. According to another view, he was the god of good counsel, who was said to have "advised" Romulus to carry off the Sabine women (Ovid, Fasti, iii. 199) when they visited Rome for the first celebration of his festival (Consualia). In later times, with the introduction of Greek gods into the Roman theological system, Consus, who had never been the object of special reverence, sank to the level of a secondary deity, whose character was rather abstract and intellectual.
His festival was celebrated on the of August and the 15th of December. On the former date, the flamen Quirinalis, assisted by the vestals, offered sacrifice, and the pontifices presided at horse and chariot races in the circus. It was a day of public rejoicing; all kinds of rustic amusements took place, amongst them running on ox-hides rubbed with oil (like the Gr. ). Horses and mules, crowned with garlands, were given rest from work. A special feature of the games in the circus was chariot racing, in which mules, as the oldest draught beasts, took the place of horses. The origin of these games was generally attributed to Romulus; but by some they were considered an imitation of the Arcadian introduced by Evander. There was a sanctuary of Consus on the Aventine, dedicated by L. Papirius Cursor in 272, in early times wrongly identified with the altar in the circus.
See W. W. Fowler, The Roman Festivals (1899); G. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer (1902); Preller-Jordan, Römische Mythologie (1881).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)