Nemetona

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Nemetona, or ‘she of the sacred grove’, is a Celtic goddess with roots in northeastern Gaul. She is thought to have been the eponymous deity of the Germano-Celtic people known as the Nemetes;[1][2] evidence of her veneration is found in their former territory along the Middle Rhine[3][4] as well in the Altbachtal sanctuary in present-day Trier, Germany.[2][1][5] She is also attested in Bath, England, where an altar to her was dedicated by a man of the Gallic Treveri people.[1][6]

Her name is derived from the Celtic root nemeto-, referring to consecrated religious spaces, particularly sacred groves.[2][1] She has thus been taken to be a guardian goddess of open-air places of worship.[7] The same root is found in the names of the Romano-British goddess Arnemetia[1] and the Matres Nemetiales (known from an inscription in Grenoble).[2]

Surviving inscriptions often associate Nemetona with Mars (sometimes given the Celtic name Loucetius). She is paired with "Loucetius Mars" in the inscription at Bath, and with "Mars" at Trier and Altrip.[1][5][3] Separate inscriptions to Nemetona and to Loucetius have been recovered from the same site in Klein-Winternheim near Mainz.[8][9] The Altrip site was further notable for yielding a terra cotta depiction of the goddess.[1]

One inscription from Eisenberg appears to identify Nemetona with Victoria:[4]

[In h(onorem) d(omus)] d(ivinae) Marti Lou/[cetio et] Victoriae Neme/[tonae] M(arcus) A(urelius) Senillus Seve/[rus b(ene)f(iciarius) l]egati urnam cum / [sortib]us et phiala(m) ex / [vo]to posuit l(ibens) l(aetus) m(erito) / [Grat]o et Seleuco co(n)s(ulibus) / X Kal(endas) Maias
"In honour of the divine house, to Mars Loucetius and Victoria Nemetona, Marcus Aurelius Senillus Severus, a protégé of the general, set up an urn with its lots and serving-dish in free, cheerful, and well-deserved fulfilment of his vow on the tenth day before the Kalends of May in the consulship of Gratus and Seleucus (22 April 221)."

Noémie Beck considers the identification of Nemetona with Nemain to be "innacurate and irrelevant".[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Powers Coe, p. 1351.
  2. ^ a b c d Beck, pp. 237-238.
  3. ^ a b CIL 13, 6131.
  4. ^ a b AE 2007, 1044.
  5. ^ a b Finke 324.
  6. ^ RIB 140.
  7. ^ "Britannia Celtic Gods: Nemetona, Goddess of the Sacred Grove". Britannia: America's Gateway to the British Isles since 1996. 1999. Retrieved 2015-04-23. 
  8. ^ Jufer & Luginbühl, p. 14; 39
  9. ^ CIL 13, 7253 (the inscription to Nemetona on bronze).
  10. ^ Beck, p. 251, fn. 1321.

References[edit]

  • Beck, Noémie (2009-12-04). Goddesses in Celtic Religion, Cult and Mythology: A Comparative Study of Ancient Ireland, Britain and Gaul (Ph.D.). Université Lumière Lyon 2, University College of Dublin. 
  • H. Finke (1927), "Neue Inschriften", Berichte der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission 17, 1-107 and 198-231.
  • Jufer, Nicole; Luginbühl, Thierry (2001). Les dieux gaulois : répertoire des noms de divinités celtiques connus par l'épigraphie, les textes antiques et la toponymie. Editions Errance. 
  • Paula Powers Coe, "Nemetona", p. 1351 in Koch, John T. (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO.