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Levana (from Latin levare, "to lift"[1]) is an ancient Roman goddess involved in rituals pertaining to childbirth. Augustine says that dea Levana is invoked when the child is lifted de terra, from the earth or ground.[2] Her function may be paralleled by the Greek Artemis Orthia, if interpreted as the Artemis who lifts or raises children.[3]

It is sometimes supposed that Levana was invoked in a ceremony by which the father lifted the child to acknowledge it as his own, but the existence of such a ceremony is based on tenuous evidence and contradicted by Roman law pertaining to legitimacy of birth.[4] More likely, Levana was the goddess who oversaw the lifting of the child by the midwife immediately after birth. Kneeling or squatting was a more common position for childbirth in antiquity,[5] and the newborn probably came to rest on the ground before the umbilical cord was cut.[6]

Modern use[edit]

Thomas de Quincey's prose poem Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow begins with a discussion of the role of Levana in Roman religion.

Levana is the name of an infant and child safety product manufacturer. The brand was established in 2007 and concentrates on electrical means of protection.[7]

In the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Levana is the name of the current queen of Luna (a human colony on the moon).


  1. ^ W.M. Lindsay, The Latin Language: An Historical Account of Latin Sounds, Stems, and Flexions (Cambridge University Press, 1894, reprinted 2010), p. 326.
  2. ^ Augustine, De Civitate Dei 4.11; perhaps also referenced by Tertullian, Ad nationes 2.11, but the text is problematic.
  3. ^ Claude Calame, Choruses of Young Women in Ancient Greece: Their Morphology, Religious Role, and Social Functions, translated by Derek Collins and Janice Orion (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), p. 167.
  4. ^ Brent D. Shaw, "Raising and Killing Children: Two Roman Myths," Mnemosyne 54.1 (2001), pp. 54–55.
  5. ^ Pierre Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Blackwell, 1986, 1996, originally published 1951 in French), pp. 311–312; Charles J. Adamec, "Genu, genus," Classical Philology 15 (1920), p. 199]; J.G. Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece (London, 1913), vol. 4, p. 436; Marcel Le Glay, "Remarques sur la notion de Salus dans la religion romaine," La soteriologia dei culti orientali nell' imperio romano: Études préliminaires au religions orientales dans l'empire romain, Colloquio internazionale Roma, 1979 (Brill, 1982), p. 442.
  6. ^ Christian Laes, Children in the Roman Empire: Outsiders Within (Cambridge University Press, 2011, originally published 2006 in Dutch), p. 60; Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998), p. 20.
  7. ^ Levana Child Safety Products

External links[edit]