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“by these signs of agriculture Silvanus might be prevented from entering,” this rite being supposed to symbolize Intercidona, Deverra, and Pilumnus, who guarded mother and child from the spirit of the wild. The eighth day after birth for girls, and the ninth for boys, was the dies lustricus, the day of purification, when they were accepted into the family.
After the successful delivery of the Empress Poppæa, wife of Nero, the Arval brothers included Spes, as Augusta Spes, in the list of divinities to whom it was customary to sacrifice on such occasions (CIL vi, 758-760); and Fecunditas likewise received honors.162
The birth of an hermaphrodite was of foul and ill omen. On one occasion it was destroyed by being thrown into the sea, while the Decemviri decreed that a litany should be sung by a chorus of thrice nine virgins, sacrifices should be offered by the matrons of the city, and processions with sacrifices should be made at the temple of Iuno Regina (Livy, xxvii, 37; xxxi, 12).
CARMENTIS (OR CARMENTA) CARMENTIS, an ancient Italic goddess and a prophetic deity of great repute,168 though overshadowed by the Cumæan Sibyl (Vergil, op. cit., viii, 337-341), appears originally to have been a nymph of springs and a healing divinity (sometimes identified with Albunea of Tibur), and later to have interpreted divine symbols and announced decrees of Fate. Aside from prophecy, her most prominent characteristic was her influence over childbirth, though her functions here were subordinate to Iuno Lucina and Diana.154 She coöperated with Lucina, assisting in delivery by reciting her magic formulas; and
162 Wissowa, op. cit., pp. 330, 336. 153 Kissel, in Janus, 1848, iii, 652. 154 Wissowa, op. cit., pp. 219-221.
hence, being a prophetess for the infant into whose future she looked and from whom she warded off impending evils, she became a mantic deity in general.155 Her priests, the Carmentarii, lit the sacrificial fires and were the official interpreters of her oracles.
Carmentis had a temple at the foot of the Capitoline, a sacred grove and temple in the Vicus Patricius open only to women, and an altar near the Porta Carmentalis; and her festivals, the Carmentalia, attended only by women, were held January 11 and 15.155 At these celebrations the Flamen Carmentalis called upon her, as Carmentis Prorsa, Porrima, or Antevorta, to aid those who invoked her by giving the child a position favorable for easy delivery, thus bringing about a fission of the deity into a plurality of Carmentes.
COMITIA was assimilated to, if she was not identical with, Carmentis as a deity of child-birth and a healing goddess. She dwelt with the Sabines at Lake Cutilia, near Reate, the waters of which were cold and used for their medicinal properties, where was a floating island on which grew trees and many healing herbs (Varro, de Ling. Lat., p. 1063, 48).
DIANA ('the Divine') 156 was originally an Italian goddess of the wild, a spirit of the forest and vegetation, and very nearly related to Silvanus; but in her general aspect she was identified with the Greek Artemis, by whom she was eventually supplanted, and in whose name she was afterwards worshipped in anniversary games (Catullus, Car155 Fowler, op. cit., p. 167. 156 Walde, op. cit., p. 231.
mina, xxxiv). As Diana Lucifera she was a moon-deity and was often called Diana Lucina (Cicero, de Nat. Deor., ii, 27); while as a divinity of magic she was equated with Hekate, whence she was sometimes regarded as of triple aspect (e.g., Vergil, op. cit., iv, 511). She was a divine protectress of women in all the needs peculiar to their sex, and a child-birth deity who was often ranked as the equal of Iuno Lucina; “Goddess of triple form, who, thrice invoked, dost hear and save from death young mothers in their labor pangs" (Horace, Oda, III, xxii, 2-4). She had a large retinue of deities and numina who presided over many subordinate functions incidental to her activities, and whose appellatives were often given her as surnames. She was sometimes called Diana Sospita, and at Nemi she was worshipped as Diana Opifera and Diana Lucina (to whom the girdle of the first birth was consecrated),157 being invoked especially for diseases of women, for successful deliveries, and for happiness in married life; while as Diana Nemorensis she was assisted in her obstetric functions by the local associated divinities, Egeria and Virbius.168 Her sanctuary at Nemi was a celebrated resort for hydrotherapy, and healing springs were dedicated to Diana Thermia, who presided over such fountains in the Campagna, at Arethusa in Sicily, and at Aix-les-Bains in Savoy.16
Diana was worshipped very generally throughout Italy but her most renowned shrine was at Nemi on the north shore of Lake Nemus in the Alban mountains. Her temple was small, being only fifty by eighty feet, but the grove in which it stood, not far from Aricia, was one of the largest known in antiquity, having an area of 44,000
167 Hecker, Geschichte der Heilkunde, i, 358-361. 158 Frazer, The Magic Art, i, 41.
Hopf, op. cit., pp. 37-38.
square meters.160 Commonly known as Nemus Aricinum, it was reputed to be the religious center of Italy; and in Aricia Diana, as the tutelary goddess of the city and the protecting deity of the ‘League of Latium,'had her altar, over which her chief priest, the 'Rex Nemorensis,' presided (Suetonius, Caligula, 35), winning his position at Nemi by slaying his predecessor (Strabo, V, iii, 12 p. 239 C).181
This League of Latin cities was overthrown in 338 B.C.; and it is inferred that when its seat was moved to Rome, the cult of Diana followed, especially as she is said to have been among the first of the di novensides to enter Rome. Her temple on the Aventine was a League sanctuary and the center of her worship until she was superseded by Artemis; but her shrines in Rome and her sacred grove in the Vicus Patricius (Livy, i, 45) were open only to women (Plutarch, Quæstiones Romanæ, 3). Her festival, with the dedication of her temples at Rome, was held on August 13, and at Aricia probably on the same day, processions at Rome and from all Latium going to her sanctuaries in her honor. Women made pilgrimages to Nemi with torches and wreaths to implore the goddess to grant them children and easy delivery; and in her temples were hung many votive tablets and ex-votos representing all parts of the body, though chiefly the genital organs of both sexes, mothers with nursing babes, and other donaria.160 Diana had many other shrines in Italy, but the wealthiest, and the one favored by Sulla, was that at Mount Tifata near Capua, known as the Mons Dianæ Tifatinæ (CIL x, 3933, 4564). Her cult was so popular that foreign goddesses were worshipped
160 Contessa Gautier, “An excursion to the Lake of Nemi and Civita Lavinia," in JBASR, 1890-1898, ii, 448 ff.; also R. Lanciani, “The Mysterious Wreck of Nemi,” in ib., pp. 300 ff.
161 Frazer, op. cit., i, 10-11.
in her name, or her name was connected with theirs, as with the Carthagenian Tanit, known as Dea Cælestis.
Diana was commonly depicted in the dress of a huntress, but in her obstetric function the torch was her permanent attribute.
EGERIA, originally a water-nymph,103 was associated with Diana as a deity of child-birth and healing at the sacred grove of Nemi, near Aricia. According to legend, she was the friend, mistress, or wife of Numa, whom she met at night and counselled concerning legislation, especially hygienic laws, in a cave on the Palatine, or at a grottospring with healing properties outside the Porta Capena on the Via Appia (Juvenal, op. cit., iii, 11-12). After the death of Numa, she retired to the grove at Nemi, where her inconsolable grief disturbed the worship of Diana (Ovid, Fasti, iii, 262 ff.; Metam., xv, 480 ff.). At the roots of an oak in the sacred grove was the ‘Spring of Egeria,' which had received her tears and was resorted to for healing, its waters, as those of other springs, being credited with power to facilitate conception and delivery.164 In her obstetric function she was associated with Virbius, another divinity connected with the sacred precincts at Nemi. When the cult of Diana was removed to Rome, Egeria followed and she was worshipped in the sacred grove of the Camenæ, below the Aventine.165
GENITA MANA, as her name ('Birth-Death') 168 implies,
162 Wissowa, op. cit., pp. 248-252. 163 Frazer, op. cit., i, 17-19. 164 1b., ii, 171 ff. 185 Wissowa, op. cit., pp. 160, 219, 247. 166 Cf. Walde, op. cit., pp. 338, 341, 460-461.