Giacobbe Giusti, ‘Minerva statue found in Italy – where, according to Virgil, Aeneas landed’
The “fortress with the temple of Minerva”, where according to Virgil Aeneas landed after the fall of Troy, could be in Salento. In recent days in Castro a group of archaeologists led by Amedeo Galati has found a mutilated statue female large. The work dates back presumably to the fourth century BC and may represent the goddess Minerva, thus confirming the hypothesis of the discoverers of the find, although the format for short kilt that would assume that this is un’Artemide. In this connection it will be useful the investigations carried out in the near future, in collaboration with the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage, the University of Salento and the City of Castro. Kept three meters from the ground to the center of Castro, the statue is devoid of the head and other anatomical details, but shows exceptional traces of purple. The continuing discoveries: archaeologists have discovered also the phalanx of a finger and arm, and we hope to find out in time the other elements missing. If it were possible to reassemble the statue would be at least four meters high (text by Lorenzo Madaro, photos of Pasquale Rizzo)
|Goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts and magic.|
|Member of the Capitoline Triad|
Mosaic of the Minerva of Peace
|Animals||Owl of Minerva|
|Parents||Jupiter and Metis|
Minerva (/mɪˈnɜr.və/; Latin: [mɪˈnɛr.wa]; 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. After impregnating the titaness Metis Jupiter recalled a prophecy that his own child would overthrow him. Fearing that their child would grow stronger than him and rule the Heavens in his place, Jupiter swallowed Metis whole. The titaness forged weapons and armor for her child while within the father-god, and the constant pounding and ringing gave him a headache. To relieve the pain, Vulcan used a hammer to split Jupiter’s head and, from the cleft, Minerva emerged, whole, adult, and bearing her mother’s weapons and armor. From the 2nd century BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddessAthena. She was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva“, which symbolizes that she is connected to wisdom.
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 rootmen- in Latinwords 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
As Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and doctors. As Minerva Achaea, she was worshipped at Lucera in Apulia where votive gifts and arms said to be those of Diomedes were preserved in her temple.
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. 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. When it was founded the emperor himself was present and was applauded and seen to be a god for this act.
Universities and educational establishments
As patron goddess of wisdom, Minerva frequently features in statuary, as an image on seals, and in other forms, at educational establishments.