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This article is about the Roman goddess. For other uses, see Minerva (disambiguation).
Goddess of wisdom, arts, crafts, medicine, commerce, defence and magic, virginity
Member of the Capitoline Triad
Mosaic of the Minerva of Peace
Animals Owl of Minerva
Parents Jupiter and Juno
Greek equivalent Athena
Etruscan equivalent Menrva

Minerva (Etruscan: Menrva) was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. She was born with weapons from the head of Jupiter.[1] Jupiter had sex with his sister Metis and impregnated her. Fearing that their child would grow stronger than him and rule the Heavens in his place, Jupiter ripped the child from her womb and devoured it and Minerva was born from his forehead. 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[edit]

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).

Worship in Rome[edit]

Raised-relief image of Minerva on a Roman gilt silver bowl, 1st century BC
Temple of Minerva in Sbeitla, Tunisia

Minerva 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]

A head of "Sulis-Minerva" found in the ruins of the Roman baths in Bath

In Fasti III, Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works". Minerva was worshiped throughout Italy, and when she eventually became equated with the Greek goddess Athena, she also became a goddess of war, although in Rome her warlike nature was less emphasized.[7] 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[edit]

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

Use by societies and governments[edit]

Minerva and owl (right) depicted on Confederate currency (1861).
  • The Seal of California depicts the Goddess Minerva. Her having been born fully-grown symbolizes California having become a state without first being a territory.[8]
  • In the early 20th century, Manuel José Estrada Cabrera, President of Guatemala, tried to promote a "Worship 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 alongside Mars is displayed on the cap badge of the Artists Rifles Territorial SAS Regiment of the British Army.
  • Kingston Upon Hulls oldest Masonic Lodge is named The Minerva Lodge.
  • Minerva is the patron goddess of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and Kappa Kappa Gamma,
  • Minerva is featured on the Union College seal. The college motto is "We all become brothers under the laws of Minerva."
  • Minerva is an Institute for training for SSB Interviews and written examinations like NDA, CDS .It is situated in Sector 120,Mohali,Punjab.It is the first and oldest Armed Forces Preparatory Institute in India and established in 1955.

Public monuments, places and modern culture[edit]

  • A small Roman shrine to Minerva (the only one still in situ in the UK) stands in Handbridge, Chester. It sits in a public park, overlooking the River Dee.
  • The Minerva Roundabout in Guadalajara, Mexico, located at the crossing of the López Mateos, Vallarta, López Cotilla, Agustín Yáñez and Golfo de Cortez avenues, features the goddess standing on a pedestal, surrounded by a large fountain, with an inscription which says "Justice, wisdom and strength guard this loyal city".
  • A bronze statue of Minerva lies in monument square Portland, Maine. "Our Lady of Victories Monument" dedicated 1891, Richard Morris Hunt and Franklin Simmons.
  • A sculpture of Minerva by Andy Scott, known as the Briggate Minerva, stands outside Trinity Leeds shopping centre.
  • Minerva is displayed as a statue in Pavia, Italy, near the train station, and is considered as an important landmark in the city.
  • Minerva is the name of a supercomputer at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
  • On the summit of the dome of Liverpool Town Hall in England is a statue, representing Minerva. It is 10 feet (3 m) high and was designed by John Charles Felix Rossi. The present Liverpool Town Hall containing the statue was begun in 1749.
  • Minerva is a reoccurring character in the Assassins Creed franchise as a guide to Desmond and later an antagonist.
  • Minerva, along with her Greek counterpart Athena are gods in the Japanese mobile game Puzzle & Dragons
  • Minerva is displayed as a cast bronze statue in the Hennepin County Library Central Library, in Minneapolis Minnesota.

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Encarta World English Dictionary 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation.
  2. ^ Larousse Desk Reference Encyclopedia, The Book People, Haydock, 1995, p. 215.
  3. ^ Candau, Francisco J. Cevallos (1994). Coded Encounters: Writing, Gender, and Ethnicity in Colonial Latin America. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 215. ISBN 0-87023-886-8. 
  4. ^ Philosophy of Right (1820), "Preface"
  5. ^ Aristotle Mirab. Narrat. 117
  6. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Achaea (2)". In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1. Boston. p. 8. 
  7. ^ http://www.ancient.eu.com/Minerva/
  8. ^ http://www.sos.ca.gov/digsig/greatseal.htm

External links[edit]