Dis Pater, Soranus, or Feronius was the consort of the Sabine underground Goddess Feronia, “Mother of Wolves.
She was identified with Lupa the She-Wolf, whose spirit purified Palatine towns through the agency of young men in wolf skins, consecrated by participating in the Lupercalia or Festival of the She-Wolf. She was also identified with Dīs Pater, a Roman god of the soil, earth and underworld, and with Apollo, a Greek god adopted by the Romans.
Mount Soracte in southern Etruria, which probably derived its name from him, was, according to Servius (ad Aen. xi. 785), sacred to the infernal gods, especially to Diespiter; and it is related that during a sacrifice offered to Soranus, wolves snatched away the entrails of the victims from the altar, and that the shepherds pursuing the wolves came to a cave, the poisonous vapours of which caused a pestilence among them.
An oracle then ordered them to live, like wolves, on prey, and hence those people are called Hirpini, from the Sabine word hirpus, a wolf, which was joined to that of Soranus, so that their full name was Hirpini Sorani.
It was a custom observed down to a comparatively late period that the Hirti or Hirpini (probably some ancient Sabine families) at the festival on mount Soracte, walked with bare feet upon the glowing coals of fire-wood, carrying about the entrails of the victims (Serv. ad Aen. xi. 784, &c.; Plin. H. N. vii. 2; Sil. Ital. v. 174; Strab. v. p. 226).
The rites were confined to the Lupercal cave, the Palatine Hill, and the Forum, all of which were central locations in Rome’s foundation myth. The Lupercal is a cave where tradition held that Romulus and Remus were suckled by the she-wolf (Lupa). The cave lay at the foot of the Palatine Hill, on which Romulus was thought to have founded Rome.
Strabo connected this ceremony with the worship of Feronia, Sabine underground Goddess “Mother of Wolves” and this circumstance, as well as the proximity of the sanctuary of the two divinities, shows, that Soranus and Feronia belonged to the same religion.
Roman poets sometimes identified Soranus with the Greek Apollo. (Virg. Aen. xi. 786 ; comp. M’uller, Etrusk, vol. ii. p. 67, &c.; Hartung, Die Religion der Romer, vol. ii. p. 191, &c.) [L. S.]