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BONA DEA 89.44%
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.
MAIA 61.50%
Daughter of Atlas and Pleione, one of the Pleiads (q.v.), mother of Hermes by Zeus. The Romans identified her with an old Italian goddess of spring, Maia Maiestas (also called Fauna, Bona Dea, Ops), who was held to be the wife of Vulcan, and to whom the flamen of that god sacrificed a pregnant sow on the 1st of May.
STRIA DEA 55.28%
A deity of generation and fecundity worshipped in Syrian Hierapolis under the name Atargatis, whom the later Greeks and the Romans simply called the Syrian goddess. From the time of the sovereignty of the Seleucidae, when the ancient paganism was highly honoured in Hierapolis, the worship of this goddess spread among the Greeks, and from them found its way to Rome (where she had a temple in the days of the Empire) and to other parts of Italy, and still farther west. The old idea of her attributes had so widened in the course of time that she shared those of Juno, Venus, Rhea, Cybele, Minerva, Diana, the Parcae, and other goddesses. She is represented on Roman monuments, seated on a throne between two lions. Her priests were generally eunuchs. They were in the habit of making excursions into Greece and Italy to extend the worship of the goddess by means of ecstatic dances and prophecies, and to collect pious alms for her sanctuary.
DEA DIA 55.28%
A Roman goddess, probably identical with Aces Larentla, the ancient Roman goddess of the country. Her worship was provided for by the priestly collegium of the Fratres Arvales.
A nocturnal festival in honour of a divinity, especially that of the Bona Dea, at which originally only married women were allowed to be present. In imperial times, when the presence of men was permitted, a nocturnal festival to Venus was also instituted. Such a festival, extending over three nights in the spring, is referred to in an anonymous poem called the Pervigilium Veneris, of the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. It consists of ninety-three trochaic septenarii separated into unequal strophae by the recurring refrain, Cras amet qui nunquam amavit, quique amavit cras amet. It celebrates in a lively strain the power of Venus, particularly as displayed in springtime, lauding her as the giver of life to all, and as the ancestress and patroness of Rome.
FAUNUS 26.69%
"The well-wisher" (from favere) [or perhaps "the speaker" (from fari)]. One of the oldest and most popular deities, who was identified with the Greek Pan on account of the similarity of their attributes. (See PAN.) As a good spirit of the forest, plains, and fields, he gave fruitfulness to the cattle, and was hence called Inuus. With all this he was also a god of prophecy, called by the name of Fatuus. He revealed the future in dreams and strange voices, communicated to his votaries while sleeping in his precincts upon the fleeces of sacrificed lambs. A goddess of like attributes, called Fauna and Fatua, was associated in his worship. She was regarded sometimes as his wife, sometimes as his daughter (see BONA DEA). Just as Pan was accompanied by the Paniskoi, or little Pans, so the existence of many Fauni was assumed besides the chief Faunus. They were imagined as merry, capricious beings, and in particular as mischievous goblins who caused night-mares. In fable Faunus appears as an old king of Latium, son of Picus, and grandson of Saturnus, father of Latinus by the nymph Marica. After his death he is raised to the position of a tutelary deity of the land, for his many services to agriculture and cattle-breeding. Two festivals, called Faunalia, were celebrated in his honour, one on the 13th of February, in the temple on the island in the Tiber, the other on the 5th of December. The peasants brought him rustic offerings and amused themselves with dancing.
The Latin term for an official collection of forms of prayer belonging to the libri pontificii (see PONTIFEX). In them were set forth the various powers of each god who was to be summoned to aid in particular cases; and none of these divinities could be passed over, if the prayer was to receive a favourable answer. Only those portions of the collection were made public which bore direct reference to private life; prayers at marriages, at births, for a blessing on the children at different times of life, and for the beginning of all kinds of work, especially agriculture. (The names of the gods of earliest childhood were as follows: Potina and Educa, who taught the child when weaned to eat and drink; Cuba, who protected the child when taken out of the cradle and put to bed; Ossipaga, who strengthened the bones; Carna, who strengthened the flesh; Levana, who helped it to rise from the ground; Statanus, Statilinus, or dea Statina, who taught it to stand; Abeona and Adeona, who supported its first walking; Fabulinus, Farinus, who assisted it to talk.) All collective occupations, all parts of the house, all different spots had their particular gods, who were invoked in these forms of prayer. Often the various names only indicate the different characteristics of a single divinity; e.g. Maia was invoked under the names of Bona, Fauna, Ops, and Fatua. In course of time the different attributes came to be regarded as separate divinities. [The names of the above divinities are quoted from Varro, Antiquitates Rerum Divinarum, by Tertullian, Ad Nat. ii 11, 15 (and De Anima 37, 39); and by Augustine, De Civitate Dei, iv 11, 21 (and iv 8, 10; vi 9, vii 23).]
VESTALS 17.98%
The priestesses of Vesta. At Rome their number was at first four, but had already been increased to six during the last years of the kings. Every girl possessing the necessary qualification was liable to be called on to undertake the duty, and no exemption was granted, except upon very strict conditions. The office was confined to girls of not less than six and not more than ten years of age, without personal blemish, of free, respectable families, whose parents were still alive and resident in Italy. The choice was made by lot out of a number of twenty, nominated by the pontifex. The virgin appointed to the priestly office immediately quitted her father's authority and entered that of the goddess. After her inauguration by the pontifex, she was taken into the atrium of Vesta, her future place of abode, was duly attired, and shorn of her hair. The time of service was by law thirty years, ten of which were set apart for learning, ten for performing and ten for teaching the duties. At the end of this time leave was granted to the Vestals to lay aside their priesthood, return into private life, and marry. They seldom took advantage of this permission. They were under the control of the pontifex, who, in the name of the goddess, exercised over them paternal authority. He administered corporal chastisement if they neglected their duties, more particularly if they allowed the sacred fire to go out; and, if any one of them violated her vow of chastity, he had her carried on a bier to the campus sceleratus (the field of transgression), near the Colline Gate, beaten with rods and immured alive. Her seducer was scourged to death. No man was allowed to enter their apartments. Their service consisted in maintaining and keeping pure the eternal fire in the temple of Vesta, watching the sacred shrines, performing the sacrifices, offering the daily and, when necessary, the special prayers for the welfare of the nation, and taking part in the feasts of Vesta, Tellus, and Bona Dea. They were dressed entirely in white, with a coronet-shaped head-band (infula), and ornamented with ribands (vittoe) suspended from it, and at a sacrifice covered with a white veil [called the suffibulum. This was a sort of hood made of a piece of white woollen cloth with a purple border, rectangular in form. It was folded over the head and fastened in front below the throat by a fibula (Festus, p. 340, ed. (Muller, quoted in Middleton's Rome, i 320)]. The chief part in the sacrifices was taken by the eldest, the virgo vestalis maxima. The Vestal Virgins enjoyed various distinctions and privileges. When they went out, they were accompanied by a lictor, to whom even the consul gave place; at public games they had a place of honour; they were under a guardian, and were free to dispose of their property; they gave evidence without the customary oath; they were, on account of their incorruptible character, entrusted with important wills and public treaties; death was the penalty for injuring their person; those whom they escorted were thereby protected from any assault. To meet them by chance saved the criminal who was being led away to punishment; and to them, as to men of distinguished merit, was assigned the honour of burial in the Forum.
According to the common legend, wife of the herdsman Faustulus, and nurse to Romalus and Remus; according to another, a favourite of Hercules, and wife to a rich Etruscan, Tarutius, whose possessions she bequeathed to Romulus or (according to another account) the Roman people. She is said to have had twelve sons, with whom she sacrificed once a year for the fertilizing of the Roman fields (arva), and who were thence named Arval Brothers (fratres arvales). One of them having died, Romulus took his place, and founded the priesthood so called. (See ARVAL BROTHERS.) She at last disappeared on the spot where, afterwards, at the feast of Larentalia (Dec. 23), the flamen of Quirinus and the pontiffs sacrificed to her while invoking Jupiter. All this, together with her name, meaning "mother of the Lares," shows that she was originally a goddess of the earth, to whose care men entrusted their seed-corn and their dead. (See LARES.) In particular she personified the city lands and their crops. Probably she is the Dea Dia worshipped by the Arval Brothers.
PALES 13.44%
The Italian goddess of shepherds. Her festival, the Palilia or Parilia, held on April 21st, was properly a herdsmen's festival to promote the fruitfulness of the flocks and to purify the sacred groves and fountains from all unintentional injury or pollution caused by the herds. It was deemed the anniversary of the founding of Rome, the former abode of shepherds. Accordingly it was celebrated at Rome, as in the villages, by the whole of the inhabitants, with the ancient rites of a shepherds' festival. It was customary to purify house, steading, and sheep with sulphur, and, as a special means of expiation, to offer incense, together with a mixture of the blood of the October horse (see MARS), the ashes of the unborn calf which was burned at the feast of Tellus, and bean-straw which was obtained from the Vestals. When these solemn purifications were over, the cheerful part of the festival began. Bonfires were made of straw and hay; the shepherds leaped across them thrice; cakes of millet were also offered to the goddess; and the festival was concluded by a feast in the open air. After the 2nd century of our era the festival was combined with that of Dea Roma, and was celebrated as her birthday with festal processions and Circensian games, which continued till the 5th century.
The Latin name for a college of priests consisting of twelve life-members, who performed the worship of Dea Dia, a goddess not otherwise mentioned, but probably identical with the old Roman goddess of cornfields, Acca Larentia (q.v.), who also is said to have founded this fraternity. Our more accurate knowledge of it we owe to its annual reports inscribed on the marble tablets, ninety-six in number, which have been dug up (1570-1869) on the site of its meeting-place, a grove at the fifth milestone from Rome, and which extend from A.D. 14-241. About its condition under the Republic we have no information; but under the Empire its members were persons of the highest rank. The emperors themselves belonged to it, either as ordinary members, or, if the numbers were filled up, as extraordinary. The election was by co-optation on the motion of the president (magister), who himself, together with a flamen, was elected for one year; their badge was a white fillet and a wreath of ears of corn. The Arvales held their chief festival on three days in May, on the 1st and 3rd in Rome, on the 2nd in the grove, with a highly complicated ceremonial, including a dance in the temple of the goddess, to which they sang the written text of a hymn so antiquated that its meaning could scarcely be understood. This Arval Hymn, in which the Lares and Mars are invoked, is one of the oldest monuments we possess of the Latin tongue. Amongst other duties of this priesthood should especially be mentioned the expiatory sacrifices in the grove. These had to be offered if any damage had been done to it through the breaking of a bough, the stroke of lightning, or other such causes; or again if any labour had been performed in it, though ever so necessary, especially if iron tools had been used. The Arval brothers had also to offer solemn vows on behalf of the Imperial House, both statedly on January 3rd, and on extraordinary occasions, and were bound to fulfil them.
MARS 8.22%
With Jupiter the principal deity of the inhabitants of Italy, and therefore honoured with particular reverence by the Latins and Romans from the very earliest times, especially as the latter regarded him as the father of Romulus, the founder of Rome. He was held to be the son of Juno, who bore him in consequence of touching a wonderful spring-flower, and the husband of Nerio or Nerlene, a goddess of strength. Through the emphasising of one of his attributes he gradually came to be considered as, above all, the god of war; for originally he is at the same time one of the mightiest gods of nature, who accords fertility and protection to fields and herds. The first month of the old Roman year was dedicated to him as the fertilizing god of spring; in the very ancient chant of the Arval brothers (q.v.), at the May-day festival of the Dea Dia, the help and protection of Mars were demanded. In earlier times he was also invoked at the hallowing of the fields (See AMBARVALIA), that he might bless the family, the field and the cattle, and keep off sickness, bad weather, and all else that did harm. (Cp. ROBIGUS.) In later times the names of Ceres and Bacchus were substituted for his on this particular occasion. At the festival on 15th October (see below) a horse was sacrificed to him to insure the fair growth of the seed that had been sown. As god of war he had the special name Gradixus, the strider, from the rapid march in battle 1 (Cp. QUIRINUS), and his symbols were the ravenous wolf, the prophetic and warlike woodpecker, and the lance. When war broke out, the general solemnly invoked his aid, by smiting his holy lance and the holy shields (ancilia -see ANCILE) with the cry, Mars, awake! (Mars vigila!) Many sacrifices were also offered to him during the campaign and before battle; and in his name military honours were conferred. The Field of Mars (Campus Martius) was dedicated to him as the patron god of warlike exercises; contests with battle-steeds, called Equirria, were there held in his honour on the 27th February, 14th March, and 15th October. On the last-mentioned day the horse on the right of the victorious team was sacrificed on his altar in the Field of Mars; it was known as the horse of October (October equus), and its blood was collected and preserved in the temple of Vesta, and used at the Palilia for purposes of purification. The cult of Mars was entrusted to a special priest, the flamen Martialis (see FLAMEN), and the college of the Salii (q.v.), which worshipped him more particularly as god of war. His principal festival was in March, the month sacred to him. As early as the time of king Tullus Hostilius, Pavor and Pallor, Fear and Pallor, are said to have been worshipped as his companions in the fight, in sanctuaries of their own. Augustus caused him to be honoured in a new form, as Mars Ultor (avenger of Caesar), in the magnificent temple in the Forum Augusti, consecrated B.C. 2, where statues of him and of Venus, as the two divine ancestors of the Julian family, were set up. In later times he was identified completely with the Greek Ares (q.v.).
among the ancients, formed the chief part of every religious act. According to the kind of sacrifice offered, they were divided into (a) bloodless offerings and (b) blood offerings. (a) The former consisted in firstfruits, viands, and cakes of various shape and make, which were some of them burned and some of them laid on the altars and sacrificial tables (See figs. 1 and 2) and removed after a time, libations of wine, milk, water with honey or milk, and frankincense, for which in early times native products (wood and the berries of cedars, junipers, and bay trees, etc.) were used. Asiatic spices, such as incense and myrrh, scarcely came into use before the seventh century in Greece or until towards the end of the Republic at Rome. (b) For blood-offerings cattle, goats, sheep, and swine were used by preference. Other animals were only employed in special cults. Thus horses were offered in certain Greek regions to Poseidon and Helios, and at Rome on the occasion of the October feast to Mars; dogs to Hecate and Robigus, asses to Priapus, cocks to Asclepius, and geese to Isis. Sheep and cattle, it appears, could be offered to any gods among the Greeks. As regards swine and goats, the regulations varied according to the different regions. Swine were sacrificed especially to Demeter and Dionysus, goats to the last named divinity and to Apollo and Aromis as well as Aphrodite, while they were excluded from the service of Athene, and it was only at Sparta that they were presented to Hera. At Epidaurus they might not be sacrificed to Asclepius, though elsewhere this was done without scruple. [Part of the spoils of the chase-such as the antlers or fell of the stag, or the head and feet of the boar or the bear--was offered to Artemis Agrotera (See fig. 3).] As regards the sex and colour of the victims, the Romans agreed in general with the Greeks in following the rule of sacrificing male creatures to gods, female to goddesses, and those of dark hue to the infernal powers. At Rome, however, there were special regulations respecting the victims appropriate to the different divinities. Thus the appropriate offering for Jupiter was a young steer of a white colour, or at least with a white spot on its forehead; for Mars, in the case of expiatory sacrifices, two bucks or a steer; the latter also for Neptune and Apollo; for Vulcan, a red calf and a boar; for Liber and Mercury, a he-goat; for Juno, Minerva, and Diana, a heifer; for Juno, as Lucina, an ewe lamb or (as also for Ceres and the Bona Dea) a sow; for Tellus, a pregnant, and for Proserpine a barren, heifer; and so on. The regulations as regards the condition of the victims were not the same everywhere in Greece. Still in general with them, as invariably with the Romans, the rule held good, that only beasts which were without blemish, and had not yet been used for labour, should be employed. Similarly, there were definite rules, which were, however, not the same everywhere, concerning the age of the victims. Thus, by Athenian law, lambs could not be offered at all before their first shearing, and sheep only when they had borne lambs. The Romans distinguished victims by their ages as lactantes, sucklings, and maiores, full grown. The sacrifice of sucklings was subject to certain limitations: young pigs had to be five days old, lambs seven, and calves thirty. Animals were reckoned maiores if they were bidentes; i.e. if their upper and lower rows of teeth were complete. There were exact requirements for all cases as regards their sex and condition, and to transgress these was an offence that demanded expiation. If the victims could not be obtained as the regulations required, the pontifical law allowed their place to be taken by a representation in wax or dough, or by a different animal in substitution for the sort required. In many cults different creatures were combined for sacrifice: e.g. a bull, a sheep, and a pig (Cp. SUOVETAURILIA), or a pig, a buck, and a ram, and the like. In State sacrifices, victims were sometimes sacrificed in great numbers; e.g. at the Athenian festival in commemoration of the victory at Marathon, 500 goats were slain. (Cp. HECATOMBE.) Human sacrifices as a means of expiation were not unknown to the earliest Greek and Roman worship, and continued in certain cases (e.g. at the feast of the Lyman Zeus and of Jupiter Latiaris) until the imperial period; however, where they continued to exist, criminals who were in any case doomed to death were selected, and in many places opportunity was further given them for escape. In general, it was considered that purity in soul and body was an indispensable requirement for a sacrifice that was to be acceptable to a divinity. Accordingly the offerer washed at least his hands and feet, and appeared in clean (for the most part, white) robes. One who had incurred blood-guiltiness could not offer sacrifice at all; he who had polluted himself by touching anything unclean, particularly a corpse, needed special purification by fumigation. Precautions were also taken to insure the withdrawal of all persons who might be otherwise unpleasing to the divinity; from many sacrifices women were excluded, from others men, from many slaves and freedmen. At Rome, in early times, all plebeians were excluded by the patricians. The victims were generally decked out with ribbons and wreaths, and sometimes the cattle had their horns gilded. If the creature voluntarily followed to the altar or even bowed its head, this was considered as a favourable sign; it was an unfavourable sign if it offered resistance or tried to escape. In that case, with the Romans, the object of the sacrifice was deemed to be frustrated. Among the Greeks those who took part in the sacrifice wore wreaths; a firebrand from the altar was dipped in water, and with the water thus consecrated they sprinkled themselves and the altar. They then strewed the head of the victim with baked barley-grains, and cast some hairs cut from its head into the sacrificial fire. After those present had been called upon to observe a devout silence, and avoid everything that might mar the solemnity of the occasion, the gods were invited, amidst the sound of flutes or hymns sung to the lyre and dancing, to accept the sacrifice propitiously. The hands of the worshippers were raised, or extended, or pointed downwards, according as the prayer was made to a god of heaven, of the sea, or of the lower world respectively. The victim was then felled to the ground with a mace or a hatchet, and its throat cut with the sacrificial knife. During this operation the animal's head was held up, if the sacrifice belonged to the upper gods, and bowed down if it belonged to those of the lower world or the dead. The blood caught from it was, in the former case, poured round the altar, in the latter, into a ditch. In the case just mentioned the sacrifice was entirely burned (and this was also the rule with animals which were not edible), and the ashes were poured into the ditch. In sacrifices to the gods of the upper world, only certain portions were burned to the gods, such as thigh-bones or chine-bones out off the victim, some of the entrails, or some pieces of flesh with a layer of fat, rolled round the whole, together with libations of wine and oil, frankincense, and sacrificial cakes. The remainder, after removing the god's portion, as it was called, for the priests engaged in the sacrifice, was either roasted at once for the sacrificial banquet and so consumed, or taken home. Festal sacrifices at the public expense were often combined with a public meal. Sacrifice was made to the gods of the upper air in the morning; to those of the lower world in the evening. Among the Romans, as among the Greeks, reverent silence prevailed during the sacrificial operations; in case a careless word should become an evil omen, and to prevent any disturbance by external surroundings, a flute-player played and the offerer of the sacrifice himself veiled his head during the rite. The prayer, formulated by the pontifices, and unintelligible to the priests themselves from its archaic language, was repeated by the votary after the priest, who read it from a written form, as any deviation from the exact words made the whole sacrifice of no avail. As a rule, the worshipper turned his face to the east, or, if the ceremony took place before the temple, to the image of the divinity, grasping the altar with his hands; and, when the prayer was ended, laid his hands on his lips, and turned himself from left to right (in many cults from right to left), or, again, walked round the altar and then seated himself. Then the victim, selected as being without blemish, was consecrated, the priest sprinkling salted grains of dried and pounded spelt (mola salsa) and pouring wine from a cup upon its head, and also in certain sacrifices cutting some of the hairs off its head, and finally making a stroke with his knife along the back of the creature, from its head to its tail. Cattle were killed with the mace, calves with the hammer, small animals with the knife, by the priest's attendants appointed for the purpose, to whom also the dissection of the victims was assigned. If the inspectors of sacrifice (see HARUSPEX) declared that the entrails (exta), cut out with the knife, were not normal, this was a sign that the offering was not pleasing to the divinity; and if it was a male animal which had been previously slaughtered, a female was now killed. If the entrails again proved unfavourable, the sacrifice was regarded as of no avail. On the other hand, in the case of prodigies, sacrifices were offered until favourable signs appeared. In other sin-offerings there was no inspection of entrails. Sin-offerings were either entirely burned or given to the priests. Otherwise the flesh was eaten by the offerers, and only the entrails, which were roasted on spits, or boiled, were offered up, together with particular portions of the meat, in the proper way, and placed in a dish upon the altar, after being sprinkled with mola salsa and wine. The slaughter of the victim took place in the morning, whilst the extawere offered at evening, the intervening time being taken up by the process of preparation.
The goddess of good luck, worshipped from remote antiquity in Italy. Her worship was supposed to have been introduced into Rome by king Servius. Tullius, popularly believed to be her favourite and confidant. He was said to have founded her oldest sanctuaries, as, for instance, that of Fors Fortuna, or lucky chance, on the right bank of the Tiber below Rome. To this a pilgrimage was made down the stream by land and water on the anniversary of its foundation (June 26). As time went on, the worship of Fortuna became one of the most popular in Italy. She was worshipped at a great number of shrines under various titles, given according to various circumstances of life in which her influence was supposed to have effect. These titles were Fortuna Primigenia, who determines the destiny of the child at its birth; Fortuna Publica or Populi Romani, the tutelary goddess of the state; Fortuna Coesaris or Augusta, the protectress of the emperor; Fortuna privata, or of family life; Fortuna patricia, plebeia, equestris, of the different orders, classes, and families of the population; Fortuna liberum, of children; virginalis, of maidens, muliebris, of women; Fortuna virilis was the goddess of woman's happiness in married life, of boys and of youths, who dedicated to her the first cuttings of their beards, calling her from this Fortuna barbata. Other epithets of Fortuna were victrix, or giver of victory; dux or comes, the leader or attendant; redux, who brings safe home; tranquilla, the giver of prosperous voyages. This Fortuna was worshipped with Portunus in the harbour of Rome. There were also Fortuna bona and mala, good and evil Fortune; blanda or flattering, obsequens or yielding, dubia or doubtful, viscata or enticing, brevis or fickle, and manens or constant. Trajan at last founded a special temple in her honour as the all-pervading power of the world. Here an annual sacrifice was offered to her on New Year's Day. In works of art she was represented with the same attributes as the Greek Tyche (see TYCHE). Fortuna, in her general character as a goddess of Nature and Fate, had an ancient and celebrated in which oracles were delivered, at Praeneste and Antium. (see cut).
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