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Ops

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Ops

Ops
Goddess of earth and fertility
Livia attired as the goddess Ops
Other names Opis ("Plenty")
Consort Saturn
Parents Caelus, Terra
Siblings Saturn, Janus
Children Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres and Vesta
Greek equivalent Rhea
Festivals Opiconsivia

In ancient Roman religion, Ops or Opis, (Latin: "Plenty") was a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin.

Mythology

The husband of Ops was Saturn, in Roman mythology, and in Greek mythology where she is identified as Rhea, her husband was Cronus, the bountiful monarch of the Golden Age. Rhea was Cronus's wife and sister. In her statues and coins, Opis is figured sitting down, as Chthonian deities normally are, and generally holds a scepter or a corn spike as her main attributes.

In Latin writings of the time, the singular nominative (Ops) is not used; only the form Opis is attested by classical authors. According to Festus (203:19), "Ops is said to be the wife of Saturn and the daughter of Caelus. By her they designated the earth, because the earth distributes all goods to the human genus" (Opis dicta est coniux Saturni per quam uolerunt terram significare, quia omnes opes humano generi terra tribuit). The Latin word ops means "riches, goods, abundance, gifts, munificence, plenty". The word is also related to opus, which means "work", particularly in the sense of "working the earth, ploughing, sowing". This activity was deemed sacred, and was often attended by religious rituals intended to obtain the good will of chthonic deities such as Ops and Consus. Ops is also related to the Sanskrit word ápnas ("goods, property").

According to Roman tradition, the cult of Opis was instituted by Titus Tatius, one of the Sabine kings of Rome. Opis soon became the patroness of riches, abundance, and prosperity. Opis had a famous temple in the Capitolium. Originally, a festival took place in Opis' honor on August 10. Additionally, on December 19 (some say December 9), the Opalia was celebrated. On August 25, the Opiconsivia was held. Opiconsivia was another name used for Opis, indicating when the earth was sown. These festivals also included activities that were called Consualia, in honor of Consus, her consort.

Opis, when syncretized with Greek mythology, was not only the wife of Saturn, she was his sister and the daughter of Caelus. Her children were Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres, and Vesta. Opis also acquired queenly status and was reputed to be an eminent goddess. By public decree temples, priests, and sacrifices were accorded her.

References

Primary sources

  • Livy Ab urbe condita libri XXIX.10.4-11.8, 14.5-14
  • Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.13.2-4, 14.2-5

Secondary sources

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  • Virginia Brown's translation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Famous Women, p. 12 - 13; Harvard University Press 2001; ISBN 0-674-01130-9
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