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Form: "the good goddess".
An Italian deity, supposed to preside over the earth, and all the blessings which spring from it. She was also the patron goddess of chastity and fruitfulness in women. The names Fauna, Maia, and Ops, were originally no more than varying appellations given by the priests to the Bona Dea. She is represented in works of art with a sceptre in her left hand, a wreath of vine leaves on her head, and a jar of wine at her side. Near her image was a consecrated serpent; indeed a number of tame serpents were kept in her temple, which was situated in Rome on the slope of the Aventine. All kinds of healing lants were preserved in her sanctuary. She was regarded in Rome as an austere virgin goddess, whose temple men were forbidden to enter. She belonged, accordingly, to the circle of deities who were worshipped by the Vestal Virgins. The anniversary of the foundation of her temple was held on the 1st of May, when prayers were offered up to her for the averting of earthquakes. Besides this, a secret festival was held to her on behalf of the public welfare, in the house of the officiating consul or praetor of the city, by matrons and the Vestal Virgins, on the night of May 3-4. The mistress of the house presided. No man was allowed to be present at this celebration, or even to hear the name of the goddess. After offering a sacrifice of sucking pigs, the women performed a dance, accompanied by stringed and wind instruments. Under the Empire the festival degenerated into a mystic performance of extravagant character.
Type: Standard
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