Roman Eagle Standard
Did Eagles Carry Emperors Into Heaven? The eagle (aquila) was the bird of Jupiter. In ancient times the eagle was a symbol of strength and courage, and immortality. The eagle was believed to be the king of the birds that could ascend above the storm, and become the messenger of the gods. According to ancient mythology the eagle would carry the soul into the presence of the gods, Zeus to the Greeks, Jupiter to the Roman, and Odin to the tribes of Germania.
The silver eagle was the ensign of the Roman Legion and the symbol of its power. The legatus was the officer in charge, and he would assign an aquilifer who was the soldier that would carry the aquila (eagle) into battle. If the eagle was captured the legion would disband. It is interesting that Julius Caesar personally sanctified the eagle when the legion was brought forth.
On one of the legion standards the powerful talons of the eagle are gripping golden thunderbolts, as the eagle stands ready for flight against all enemies of Rome. At the very top of the standard above the eagle is a gold bar with the inscription SPQR (Senatus Populus Romanus) honoring the Senate and the People. The ancient Roman eagle is important in the study of Biblical archaeology.