Minerva (mythology)

This article is about the Roman goddess. For other uses, see Minerva (disambiguation).

Minerva
Template:Larger
Member of the Capitoline Triad
Mosaic of the Minerva of Peace
Animals Owl of Minerva
Parents Jupiter
Greek equivalent Athena
Etruscan equivalent Menrva
Religion in
ancient Rome
head covered)
sacrificing at the Temple of Jupiter
Practices and beliefs
Priesthoods
Deities
Related topics

Minerva (Etruscan: Menrva) was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and defense. She was born from the godhead of Jupiter with weapons.[1] From the 2nd century BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena.[2] She was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic.[3] She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the "owl of Minerva",[4] which symbolizes that she is connected to wisdom.

Etruscan Menrva

Main article: Menrva

Stemming from an Italic moon goddess *Meneswā ('She who measures'), the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, *Menerwā, thereby calling her Menrva. It is assumed that her Roman name, Minerva, is based on this Etruscan mythology, Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of her father, Jupiter (Greek Zeus).

By a process of folk etymology, the Romans could have linked her foreign name to the root men- in Latin words such as mens meaning "mind", perhaps because one of her aspects as goddess pertained to the intellectual. The word mens is built from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- 'mind' (linked with memory as in Greek Mnemosyne/μνημοσύνη and mnestis/μνῆστις: memory, remembrance, recollection, Manush in Sanskrit meaning mind ).

Cult in Rome


Menrva was part of a holy triad with Tinia and Uni, equivalent to the Roman Capitoline Triad of Jupiter-Juno-Minerva. Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter.

As Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and doctors. As Minerva Achaea, she was worshipped at Luceria in Apulia where votive gifts and arms said to be those of Diomedes were preserved in her temple.[5][6]


In Fasti III, Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works." Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did she take on the warlike character shared by Athena. Her worship was also taken out to the empire — in Britain, for example, she was conflated with the local wisdom goddess Sulis.

The Romans celebrated her festival from March 19 to March 23 during the day which is called, in the neuter plural, Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March, the nineteenth, an 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 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 now occupied by the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva facing the present-day Piazza della Minerva.

Universities and educational establishments

Main article: Minerva in the emblems of educational establishments

As patron goddess of wisdom, Minerva frequently features in statuary, as an image on seals, and in other forms, at educational establishments.

Societies and governmental use

  • The Seal of California depicts the Goddess Minerva having sprung full grown from the brain of Jupiter. This was interpreted as analogous to the political birth of the State of California without having gone through the probation period of being a Territory.
  • In the early 20th century, Manuel José Estrada Cabrera, President of Guatemala, tried to promote a "Cult of Minerva" in his country; this left little legacy other than a few interesting Hellenic style "Temples" in parks around Guatemala.
  • According to John Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy (1798), the third degree of the Bavarian Illuminati was called Minerval or Brother of Minerva, in honour of the goddess of learning. Later, this title was adopted for the first initiation of Aleister Crowley's OTO rituals.
  • Minerva is displayed on the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government.
  • Minerva is featured in the logo of the Max Planck Society.
  • Minerva is displayed on the cap badge of the Artists Rifles Territorial SAS Regiment of the British Army.

Public monuments, places and modern culture

See also

References and sources

References
Sources
Template:1911Enc
  • Origins of English History see Chapter Ten.
  • Romans in Britain - Roman religion and beliefs see The Roman gods.
  • Old Norse Myths, Literature and Society
  1. REDIRECT template:DGRBM See page 1090

External links

  • Roman Mythology
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