Orcus, Lord of Death, was venerated in Gaul and Rome. He may be of Celtic origin, although others argue that he was originally Etruscan. In other words, did the Romans bring him to Gaul or learn of him in Gaul? It is possible that Orcus may be but another name for other death lords like Hades, Pluto, or Dis Pater. Orcus was a dreaded spirit: people didn’t like to talk about him much, hence little information survives.

Oaths were traditionally sworn on his name. If broken or if perjury occurred, Orcus would punish the wrongdoer. Post-Christianity, Orcus evolved into the Italian orco, an Italian tusked monster. The roots of the word ogre may also derive from his name. J. R. R. Tolkien’s Orcs derive their name, if not their nature or appearance, from Orcus. Orcus may be syncretized to Saint Blaise.

Also known as:



He appears in the guise of a ferocious dog or wolf

Sacred sites:

• France’s Orcival Valley may derive from his name (Orcus’ Valley).

• Orcus may have had a shrine on Rome’s Palatine Hill.

• Orcus (the planet or trans-Neptunian object formerly known as 2004DW) was discovered in February 2004. It shares Pluto’s 248 year orbit.

See Also:


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.