Prev | Next | Contents


THE PAIRS OF DEITIES IN GELLIUS xiii. 23 (see page 150)

The first paired deity mentioned by Gellius is Lua Saturni, also known as Lua Mater, of whom Dr. Frazer writes (p. 412), "In regard to Lua we know that she was spoken of as a mother, which makes it not improbable that she was also a wife." We are not surprised to find him claiming that because Vesta is addressed as Mater in the Acta Fratr. Arv. (Henzen, p. 147), that virgin deity was also married. This he does in his lectures on Kingship (p. 222), quoting Ennius and Lactantius as making Vesta mother of Saturnus and Titan. No comment on this is needed for any one conversant with Graeco-Roman religion and literature from Ennius onward. The title Mater here means simply that Vesta was to her worshippers in a maternal position: "quamvis virginem, indole tamen quadam materna praeditam fuisse nuper exposuit Preunerus," says Henzen, quoting Preuner's Hestia-Vesta, an old book but a good one (p. 333). But to return to Lua: I freely confess that I cannot explain why she was styled Mater. We only know of her, apart from the list in Gellius and one passage of Servius, from the two passages of Livy quoted without comment by Dr. Frazer. The first of these (viii. 1), which may be taken from the pontifical books, seems to let in a ray of light on her nature and function. In 338 B.C. the Volscians had been beaten, and "armorum magna vis" was found in their camp. "Ea Luae Matri se dare consul dixit, finesque hostium usque ad maritimam oram depopulatus est." That is, as I understand the words, he dedicated the enemy's spoils to the numen who was the enemy of his own crops.[1010] For if Lua be connected etymologically with lues, she may be the hurtful aspect of Saturnus, like Tursa Cerfia Cerfii Martii as Buecheler explains it (Umbrica, p. 98).

A curious passage of Servius may be quoted in support of this view, in which Luae is an almost certain correction for Lunae (see Jordan's edition of Preller's Rom. Mythol. vol. ii. p. 22). Commenting on Virgil's "Arboribusque satisque lues" (Aen. iii. 139), he writes: "quidam dicunt, diversis numinibus vel bene vel male faciendi potestatem dicatam, ut Veneri coniugia, Cereri divortia, Iunoni procreationem liberorum: sterilitatem horum tam Saturno quam Luae, hanc enim sicut Saturnum orbandi potestatem habere." Whatever Lua may originally have been, she seems to have been regarded as a power capable of working for evil in the crops and in women; if you could get her to work on your enemy's crops (cp. the excantatio, above p. 58), so much the better, and the better would her claim be to the title of Mater (but Dr. Frazer supplies us with examples of a hostile spirit being called by a family name, e.g., Grandfather Smallpox, G.B. iii. p. 98). When the consul had dedicated the spoils to her he proceeded to assist her in her functions by ravaging the crops of the enemy; thus she became later on a deity of spoils. In the Macedonian triumph of B.C. 167 we find her in company with Mars and Minerva as one of the deities to whom "spolia hostium dicare ius fasque est" (Livy xlv. 33).

I may add here that Dr. Frazer has another arrow in his quiver to prove that Saturnus was married: if Lua was not his wife (which no Roman asserts) certainly (he says) Ops was. He quotes a few words from Macrobius (i. 13. 19) in which these two are mentioned as husband and wife. If he had quoted the whole passage, his reader would have been better able to judge of the value of the writers of whom Macrobius says that they "crediderunt" that Ops was wife of Saturn. For it appears that some of them fancied that Saturnus was "a satu dictus cuius causa de caelo est"--(a desperate attempt to make the old spirit of the seed into a heaven-god), while Ops, whose name speaks for itself, was the earth. But the real companion deity to Ops was not Saturnus, but Consus. This has been placed beyond all reasonable doubt by Wissowa in his de Feriis (reprinted in Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p. 154 foll.). See also my R.F. p. 212. The names Ops and Consus obviously refer to stored corn, and everything in their cult points the same way. Saturnus' connection with Ops is a late and a mistaken one, derived from the Graecising tendency, which brought Cronos and Rhea to bear on them.

Next a word about Hora Quirini. As this coupling of names is followed by Virites Quirini, in the characteristic method explained in the text (cp. Cic. Nat. Deor. ii. 27 of Vesta, "vis eius ad aras et focos pertinet"), it is hardly necessary to comment on it. Hora is perhaps connected with Umbrian Heris (cp. Buecheler, Umbrica, index), which with kindred forms means will, willingness. Thus in "Nerienem Mavortis et Herem" (Ennius, fragm. 70, in Baehrens, Fragm. Poet. Lat.) we may see the strength and the will of Mars (cp. Herie Iunonis). Hora is also connected in legend with Hersilia (Ov. Met. 14. 829), and this helps to show how the Alexandrian erotic legend-making faculty got hold of her. But, says Dr. Frazer, Ennius regarded her as wife of Quirinus: "Teque Quirine pater veneror, Horamque Quirini" (fragm. 71 of the Annales). This is Dr. Frazer's interpretation of the words, but Ennius says nothing of conjugal relations; and even if he had, his evidence as to ancient Roman conceptions would be worthless. Ennius was not a Roman; he came from Magna Graecia; and if Dr. Frazer will read all that is said about him, e.g. in Schanz's history of Roman literature, he will allow that every statement of such a man about old Roman ideas of the divine must be regarded with suspicion and subjected to careful criticism.

Next we come to Salacia Neptuni. Of this couple Dr. Frazer says that Varro plainly implies that they were husband and wife, and that this is affirmed by Augustine, Seneca, and Servius. The accumulation of evidence seems strong; but Varro implies nothing of the kind (L.L. v. 72). He is indulging in fancy etymologies, and derives Neptunus from nubere, "quod mare terras obnubit ut nubes caelum, ab nuptu id est opertione ut antiqui, a quo nuptiae, nuptus dictus." If he had meant to make Salacia wife of Neptunus, this last sentence would surely have suggested it; but he goes on after a full stop, "Salacia Neptuni a salo." It is only the later writers, ignorant of the real nature of Roman religious ideas, who make Salacia into a wife. It is worth noting that Varro adds another feminine deity in his next sentence, Venilia, whom Virgil makes the mother of Turnus (Aen. x. 76); and Servius, commenting on this line, goes one better, and says she was identical with Salacia. Perhaps both were sea or water spirits, connected with Neptunus as famulae or anculae (see Wissowa, R.K. p. 19), but they are lost to us, and speculation is useless. In R.F. p. 186, I suggested an explanation of Salacia which I am disposed to withdraw. But for anyone wishing to study the treatment of old Roman numina by the mythologists and philosophers of the Graeco-Roman period, I would recommend an attentive reading of the whole chapter of Augustine from which Dr. Frazer quotes a few words (C.D. vii. 22); and further a careful study of the Graeco-Roman methods of fabricating myths about Roman divine names, for which he will do well to read the passages referred to by Wissowa in R.K. pp. 250 and 251, and notes.

Lastly, comes Maia Volcani. Here for once we get a fact of cult, which is a relief, after the loose and reckless statements of non-Roman and Christian writers. The flamen Volcanalis sacrificed to Maia on May 1st, which proves that there was a real and not a fancied connection between Volcanus and Maia, but certainly not that they were husband and wife. Dr. Frazer, however, quotes Cincius "on the Fasti" as (ap. Macrob. i. 12. 18) stating this, and refers us to Schanz's Gesch. der röm. Lit. for information about him. In the second edition of that work he will find a discussion of the very doubtful question as to whether the Cincius he quotes is the person whom he asserts him to be, viz., the annalist of the second Punic War. The writer of the article "Cincius" in Pauly-Wissowa Real-Encycl. is very confident that the one who wrote on the Fasti lived as late as the age of Augustus. But putting that aside, what are we to make of the fact that another annalist, L. Calpurnius Piso (famous as the author of the first lex de repetundis, 149 B.C.), said that the wife of Volcanus was not Maia, but Maiestas? Piso was not a good authority (see above, p. 51), but he seems here to bring the "consort" of the fire-god into line with such expressions of activity as Moles, Virites, and so on; and it seems that as early as the second century B.C., sport and speculation with these names were beginning. I have quoted the whole pedantic passage from Macrobius in my Roman Festivals, p. 98, where the reader may enjoy it at leisure. I shall not be surprised if he comes to the conclusion that neither Macrobius nor his learned informers knew anything about Maia. When he reads that she was the mother of Mercurius, he will recollect that Mercurius was not a Roman deity of the earliest period, and did not belong to the di indigetes; and when he finds that she is identified with Bona Dea, he must not forget that that deity, as scholars are now pretty well agreed, was introduced at Rome from Tarentum in the age of the Punic Wars. The one fact we know is the sacrifice by the flamen Volcanalis on May 1. Someone went to work to explain this and another, viz. that the Ides of the month was the dedication day of the first temple of Mercurius (B.C. 495), and also the fact that the temple of the Bona Dea on the Aventine was dedicated on the Kalends. The result was an extraordinary jumble of fancy and myth, which has been recognised as such by those who have studied closely the methods of Graeco-Roman scholarship. The unwary, of course, are taken in. A student of these methods might do well to take as an exercise in criticism the three "specimens of Roman mythology" which Dr. Frazer says (p. 413) have "survived the wreck of antiquity"--the loves of Vertumnus and Pomona, of Jupiter and Juturna, of Janus and Cardea. In the last of these especially he will find one of the most audacious pieces of charming and wilful invention that a Latin poet could perpetrate, in imitation of Hellenistic love tales, and to suit the taste of a public whose education was mainly Greek.

The above lengthy note was written before I had seen von Domaszewski's paper on this subject ("Festschrift für O. Hirschfeld") reprinted in Abhandlungen zur röm. Religion, p. 104 foll. cp. p. 162.) His explanations are different in detail from mine, but rest on the same general principle that the names Salacia, etc., indicate functions or attributes of the male deity to whom they are attached.

[1010] For the taboo on such spoils, and their destruction, see M. S. Reinach's interesting paper "Tarpeia," in Cultes, mythes, et religions, iii. 221 foll.

Prev | Next | Contents