Saturday, December 24, 2011


The Roman goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, dyeing, science and trade, but also of war. As Minerva Medica she is the patroness of physicians. She is the daughter of Jupiter. In the temple on the Capitoline Hill she was worshipped together with Jupiter and Juno, with whom she formed a powerful triad of gods. Another temple of her was located on the Aventine Hill. The church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva is built on one of her temples. Every year from March 19 - 23 the Quinquatria was held, the primary Minerva-festival. This festival was mainly celebrated by artisans but also by students. On June 13 the minor Quinquatrus was observed.
Minerva is believed to be the inventor of numbers and musical instruments. She is thought to be of Etruscan origin, as the goddess Menrva or Menerva. Later she was equated with the Greek Athena.
FROM: Minerva
Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works." Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did she take on a warlike character. Her worship was also taken out to the empire - in Britain, for example, she was conflated with the wisdom goddess Sulis.

The Romans celebrated her festival from March 19 to March 23 during the day which is called, in the feminine plural, Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March, the nineteenth, the artisans' holiday. A lesser version, the Minusculae Quinquatria, was held on the Ides of June, June 13, by the flute-players, who were particularly useful to religion. In 207 BC, a guild of poets and actors was formed to meet and make votive offerings at the temple of Minerva on the Aventine hill. Among others, its members included Livius Andronicus. The Aventine sanctuary of Minerva continued to be an important center of the arts for much of the middle Roman Republic.

Minerva was also worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno, at the Temple of Minerva Medica, and at the "Delubrum Minervae" a temple founded around 50 BC by Pompey on the site of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (near the present-day Piazza della Minerva and the Pantheon).
FROM: Wikipedia "Minerva"
Menrfa, or Menrva, is the Etruscan name of the Goddess of Wisdom and the Arts, who in Rome would be known as Minerva, and who corresponds to the Greek Athene. She is the Goddess of the mind, of crafts, artisans and trade guilds, and did not have a martial character until She was identified with Athene, who was brought to south-western Italy by Greek settlers. She was worshipped by workers and craftspeople, and was the patroness of the arts and learning, of engraving, weaving, painting, sculpture, dyeing, spinning, and teachers and students.

Menrfa could be considered a Goddess of Healing as well. Her temple in Veii, the famous Portonaccio temple, contained three cella or chambers, implying a triad of Deities were worshipped there, probably Menrfa, Turan, and Artimi (Artemis) or Aplu (Apollo). Excavations there have found a basin that had been piped to receive the local sulphurous water, a type of water often considered to have healing properties; and votive offerings in the form of terracotta body parts, commonly given by people seeking healing of those parts, were also found. It is thought that some part of the worship at Her temple in Veii included the giving of oracles; whether these were attributed to Menrfa or to one of the other Deities there (for example Aplu/Apollo, who was the patron God at the Oracle at Delphi in Greece) is not known.

The name Menrfa is cognate to the Latin Minerva, which finds its roots in the Latin mens, or "mind, reason, intellect". There has been long debate on whether "Menrfa" derives from Latin also, or if it is in fact of Etruscan origins, borrowed into Latin (for though Latin and Etruscan are not related languages, they were certainly close enough geographically to borrow and loan words now and again). However, within the area of Etruria were a tribe of people called the Faliscans, whose capitol city of Falerii (the modern Cività Castellana) was a cult-center of Menrfa. The Faliscans spoke a dialect closely related to Latin, though they were Etruscan enough that Falerii was considered one of the twelve cities of the Etruscan federation, and so my guess is that "Menrfa" is a Faliscan word, that looks Latin because Faliscan is so closely related. When Falerii was captured by Rome in 241 BCE, the worship of their Menrfa was brought to Rome as Minerva Capta ("Minerva the Captive", probably referring to the physical transfer of Her cult-statue to Rome). Though this event was traditionally held to mark the beginning of Minerva's worship in Rome, this is unlikely—since Menrfa was one of the major Etruscan Goddesses, said to have a temple in every Etruscan city, one would guess Rome had heard of Her before. Besides which, Her temple on the Aventine Hill in Rome most likely pre-dates the capture of Falerii.

Menrfa was one of the three main Etruscan Deities, with Uni and Tinia, the Earth Mother and Sky Father, who would later be known as the Capitoline triad of Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva, so named because of a temple with three chambers that They shared on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. The three of them had the power to wield thunderbolts, considered major portents by the Etruscans and the Romans.

Menrfa was usually depicted much like Athene was in a long chiton and helmet, carrying a spear and shield, with one major difference: like many Etruscan Deities, Menrfa was often given wings. Since the Etruscans had from early times had contact with the Greeks their Menrfa bore attributes of Athene almost from the get-go, and it is difficult to tell what Menrfa was originally like before Greek influence set in. There are, however, some depictions that show Her in Her civilian clothes, as it were: generally these depict scenes from the Judgment of Paris, a Greek tale in which the hero Paris or Alexandros is compelled to choose which of three Goddesses is the most beautiful: between Hera, Athene and Aphrodite (the Etruscan Uni, Menrfa and Turan), he chooses Aphrodite, and the resulting bad blood (not to mention his elopement with Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, given as Aphrodite's bribe for his vote) leads to the Trojan War. In one Etruscan depiction of this legend, Menrfa is shown in a long red dress that is belted at the waist, with a wreath on Her head, carrying another in Her left hand. In Her right hand is the only indication of Her warrior tendencies, a spear. Her hair is dark and hangs down Her back to the middle of Her thigh, and She wears the curly-toed boots that were peculiarly Etruscan.

Menrfa is frequently associated with Hercle (the Etruscan Herakles), as Athene was with Herakles; one mirror shows Her leading Him to the Hydra, which would be His second labor. Like Athene She wears the aegis, but no helmet, and unlike Athene She has a thin staff instead of a spear, and a pair of wings. Very much unlike the traditional Greek idea of the virgin Athene, Menrfa seems to have been the mother to a son (or a triplicity of sons) called Maris, whose father was Hercle, and in whom some see a predecessor of the great Roman God Mars.
She was known in Oscan lands as Catanai or Ciistai. She may be related to Nortia, an Etruscan Goddess quite like the Roman Fortuna.

Alternate spellings: Menarva, Menerva, Meneruva, Menrva, Menarea, Mera
FROM: Thalia's Obscure Goddess Online Directory
Although Minerva, the Roman goddess of war and wisdom, is usually portrayed as equivalent to the Greek goddess Athena, she was originally an Etruscan goddess of dawn. She is revered as a goddess of wisdom, for the light of dawn typifies knowledge. She guides heroes in war and is patroness of all arts, crafts, guilds, and medicine. Called by Ovid "the goddess of a thousand works," she was the inventor of musical instruments, numbers, and many crafts, including weaving. The serpent and the owl were sacred to her. The serpent is an emblem of life energy and the creative impulse. The owl is a symbol of death and wisdom, and thus Minerva, a goddess of the dawn and of wisdom, is also a goddess of death and transformation.
FROM: Minerva

Achaea - griever; used at Luceria by the Romans
Castitis - protector of olive trees
Ergatis - work woman
Letham - an Etruscan Goddess absorbed by Minerva
Mensa - measurer of time; Moon; originally an independent Goddess
Nerio - valour; captured arms were dedicated to her
Parthenos - virgin
Pylotis - of the narrow pass
Saïs - from the Egyptian city of the same name
Salus - health; originally a separate Goddess of healing and agriculture with possible Sabine connections
Tritonia - third queen; eldest

The Crone figure of the original Capitoline triad, Minerva ruled wisdom, work, education, and war. Beginning as an Etruscan Goddess, Mnrva, her birth was attended by the mysterious Goddess Ethausva. In time she became highly popular in Rome, where her protection was regularly invoked for the Roman population at large, apparently by priestesses at her chapel at the foot of one of the city's seven hills, because no flamen was assigned to control her worship. Minerva was strongly associated with the Moon and accordingly absorbed the Etruscan Goddess Mensa and the arts of which she was a patron, including invention and calculation of calendars, measuring in general, numbers, tables, and recordkeeping. In these functions Minerva appears to overlap significantly with Vesta, whose calendar table has already been mentioned. Two days were dedicated to Minerva: March 19, the Quinquatrus and June 13, the Quinquirtus Minores. The March festival was a school holiday and teacher payday, when each instructor received their minerval. Eventually it was extended from one day to five, March 19 to 23. Hints of the Goddess' deeper nature persist in artifacts surviving from classical to late imperial times. The Praneste cista shows Minerva creating Mars by casting a bronze statue preparatory to giving it life. In still other images, a three headed dog similar to Greek Kerberus waits patiently to seize the souls of those Minerva finds wanting as they wait to enter the underworld.
FROM: Minerva

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