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Goddess May 10, 2005 8:22 PM

APHRODITE

Ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty, identified by the Romans with Venus. Because the Greek word aphros means "foam," the legend arose that Aphrodite was born from the white foam produced by the severed genitals of Uranus(Heaven), after his son Cronus threw them into the sea. Aphrodite was, in fact, widely worshiped as a goddess of the sea and of seafaring; she was also honoured as a goddess of war, especially at Sparta, Thebes, Cyprus, and other places. Aphrodite was, however, primarily a goddess of love and fertility and even occasionally presided over marriage. Although prostitutes considered Aphrodite their patron, her public cult was generally solemn and even austere.

Many scholars believe Aphrodite's worship came to Greece from the East, and many of her characteristics must be considered Semitic. Although Homer called her "Cyprian" after the island chiefly famed for her worship, she was already Hellenized by the time of Homer, and, according to Homer, she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, his consort at Dodona. In the Odyssey, Aphrodite was mismatched with Hephaestus, the lame smith god, and she consequently spent her time philandering with the handsome god of war, Ares (by whom she became the mother of Harmonia).

Of Aphrodite's mortal lovers, the most important were the Trojan shepherd Anchises, by whom she became the mother of Aeneas, and the handsome youth Adonis (in origin a Semitic nature deity and the consort of Ishtar-Astarte), who was killed by a boar while hunting and was lamented by women at the festival of Adonia. The cult of Adonis had underworld features, and Aphrodite was also connected with the dead at Delphi. Aphrodite's main centres of worship were at Paphos and Amathus on Cyprus and on the island of Cythera, a Minoan colony, where her cult probably originated in prehistoric times. On the Greek mainland Corinth was the chief centre of her worship. Her close association with Eros, the Graces (Charites), and the Horae (Seasons) emphasized her role as a promoter of fertility. She was universally honoured as Genetrix, the creative element in the world. Her epithets Urania (Heavenly Dweller) and Pandemos (Of All the People) were incorrectly taken by the philosopher Plato to refer to intellectual and common love; rather, the title Urania was honorific and applied to certain Oriental deities, while Pandemos referred to her standing within the city-state. Among her symbols were the dove, pomegranate, swan, and myrtle.

Early Greek Art represented Aphrodite either as the Oriental, nude-goddess type or as a standing or seated figure similar to all other goddesses. Aphrodite first attained individuality at the hands of the great 5th-century-BC Greek sculptors. Perhaps the most famous of all statues of Aphrodite was carved by Praxiteles for the Cnidians; it later became the model for such Hellenistic masterpieces as the Venus de Milo.

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ARTEMIS May 10, 2005 8:23 PM

In Greek religion, the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, and vegetation, and of chastity and childbirth; she was identified by the Romans with Diana. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. Among the rural populace, Artemis was the favorite goddess. Her character and function varied greatly from place to place, but, apparently, behind all forms lay the goddess of wild nature, who danced, usually accompanied by nymphs, in mountains, forests, and marshes. Artemis embodied the sportsman's ideal, so besides killing game she also protected it, especially the young; this was the Homeric significance of the title Mistress of Animals.

The worship of Artemis probably flourished in Crete or on the Greek mainland in pre-Hellenic times. Many of Artemis' local cults, however, preserved traces of other deities, often with Greek names, suggesting that, upon adopting her, the Greeks identified Artemis with nature divinities of their own.

While the mythological roles of other prominent Olympians evolved in the works of the poets, the lore of Artemis developed primarily from cult. Dances of maidens representing tree nymphs (dryads) were especially common in Artemis' worship as goddess of the tree cult, a role especially popular in the Peloponnese. Throughout the Peloponnese, bearing such epithets as Limnaea and Limnatis (Lady of the Lake), Artemis supervised waters and lush wild growth, attended by nymphs of wells and springs (naiads). In parts of the peninsula her dances were wild and lascivious.

Outside the Peloponnese, Artemis' most familiar form was as Mistress of Animals. Poets and artists usually pictured her with the stag or hunting dog, but the cults showed considerable variety. For instance, the Tauropolia festival at Halae Araphenides in Attica honoured Artemis Tauropolos (Bull Goddess), who received a few drops of blood drawn by sword from a man's neck.

The frequent stories of the love affairs of Artemis' nymphs are supposed by some to have originally been told of the goddess herself. The poets after Homer, however, stressed Artemis' chastity and her delight in the hunt, dancing and music, shadowy groves, and the cities of just men. The wrath of Artemis was proverbial, for to it myth attributed wild nature's hostility to humans. Yet Greek sculpture avoided Artemis' unpitying anger as a motif; in fact, the goddess herself did not become popular as a subject in the great sculptural schools until the relatively gentle 4th-century-BC spirit prevailed.
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ATHENA May 10, 2005 8:24 PM

Also spelled Athene in Greek religion. She is the city protectress, goddess of wisdom, war, handicraft, and practical reason, identified by the Romans with Minerva. She was essentially urban and civilized, the antithesis in many respects of Artemis, goddess of the outdoors. Athena was probably a pre-Hellenic goddess and was later taken over by the Greeks. Yet the Greek economy, unlike that of the Minoans, was largely military, so that Athena, while retaining her earlier domestic functions, became a goddess of war.

Athena's association with the acropolises of various Greek cities probably stemmed from the location of the kings' palaces there. She was thought to have had neither consort nor offspring. She may not have been described as a virgin originally, but virginity was attributed to her very early and was the basis for the interpretation of her epithets Pallas and Parthenos. As a war goddess Athena could not be dominated by other goddesses, such as Aphrodite, and as a palace goddess she could not be violated.

In Homer's Iliad, Athena, as a war goddess, inspired and fought alongside the Greek heroes; her aid was synonymous with military prowess. Also in the Iliad, Zeus, the chief god, specifically assigned the sphere of war to Ares, the god of war, and Athena. Athena's moral and military superiority to Ares derived in part from the fact that she represented the intellectual and civilized side of war and the virtues of justice and skill, whereas Ares represented mere blood lust. Her superiority also derived in part from the vastly greater variety and importance of her functions and from the patriotism of Homer's predecessors, Ares being of foreign origin. In the Iliad, Athena was the divine form of the heroic, martial ideal: she personified excellence in close combat, victory, and glory. The qualities that led to victory were found on the aegis, or breastplate, that Athena wore when she went to war: fear, strife, defense, and assault. Athena appears in Homer's Odyssey as the tutelary deity of Odysseus, and myths from later sources portray her similarly as helper of Perseus and Heracles (Hercules). As the guardian of the welfare of kings, Athena became the goddess of good counsel, of prudent restraint and practical insight, as well as of war.

In post-Mycenaean times the city, especially its citadel, replaced the palace as Athena's domain. She was widely worshiped, but in modern times she is associated primarily with Athens, to which she gave her name. Her emergence there as city goddess, Athena Polias ("Athena, Guardian of the City"), accompanied the ancient city-state's transition from monarchy to democracy. She was associated with birds, particularly the owl, which became famous as the city's own symbol, and with the snake. Her birth and her contest with Poseidon, the sea god, for the suzerainty of the city were depicted on the pediments of the Parthenon. Hesiod, in the Theogony, told how Athena, having no known mother, sprang from Zeus's forehead, and Pindar added that Hephaestus struck open Zeus's head with an ax.

Athena's birthday festival, the Panathenaea, concerned the growth of vegetation. The similarly purposed Procharisteria celebrated the goddess's rising from the ground with the coming of spring. Athena's connection with vegetation, however, was only a by-product of her general civic duties.

Athena became the goddess of crafts and skilled peacetime pursuits in general. She was particularly known as the patroness of spinning and weaving. That she ultimately became allegorized to personify wisdom and righteousness was a natural development of her patronage of skill.

Athena was customarily portrayed wearing body armour and a helmet and carrying a shield and a lance. Two Athenians, the sculptor Phidias and the playwright Aeschylus, contributed significantly to the cultural dissemination of Athena's image. She inspired three of Phidias' sculptural masterpieces, including the massive chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue of Athena Parthenos housed in the Parthenon; and in Aeschylus' dramatic tragedy Eumenides she founded the Areopagus (Athens' aristocratic council), and, by breaking a deadlock of the judges in favor of Orestes, the defendant, she set the precedent that a tied vote signified acquittal.
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CERES May 10, 2005 8:25 PM

In Roman religion, goddess of the growth of food plants, worshiped either alone or in association with the earth goddess Tellus. At an early date her cult was overlaid by that of Demeter, who was widely worshiped in Sicily and Magna Graecia. On the advice of the Sybilline Books, a cult of Ceres, Liber, and Libera was introduced into Rome (according to tradition, in 496 BC) to check a famine. The temple, built on the Aventine Hill in 493 BC, became a centre of plebeian religious and political activities and also became known for the splendour of its works of art. Destroyed by fire in 31 BC, it was restored by Augustus. The three chief festivals of Ceres' cult all followed Greek lines.
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DEMETER May 10, 2005 8:26 PM

In Greek religion, daughter of the deities Cronus and Rhea, sister and consort of Zeus (the king of the gods), and goddess of agriculture. Her name may mean either "grain mother" or "mother earth."

Demeter is rarely mentioned by Homer, nor is she included among the Olympian gods, but the roots of her legend are probably ancient. The legend centered on the story of her daughter Persephone(q.v.), who was carried off by Hades, the god of the underworld. Demeter went in search of Persephone and, during her journey, revealed her secret rites to the people of Eleusis, who had hospitably received her (see Eleusinian Mysteries). Her distress at her daughter's disappearance was said to have diverted her attention from the harvest and caused a famine. In addition to Zeus, Demeter had a consort, Iasion (a Cretan), to whom she bore Plutus (Wealth; i.e., abundant produce of the soil).

Demeter appeared most commonly as a grain goddess. The name Ioulo (from ioulos, "grain sheaf") has been regarded as identifying her with the sheaf and as proving that the cult of Demeter originated in the worship of the grain mother. The influence of Demeter, however, was not limited to grain but extended to vegetation generally and to all the fruits of the earth, except the bean (the latter being the province of the hero Cyamites). In that wider sense Demeter was akin to Gaea (Earth), with whom she had several epithets in common, and was sometimes identified with the Great Mother of the Gods (Rhea, or Cybele).

Another important aspect of Demeter was that of a divinity of the underworld; she was worshiped as such at Sparta, and especially at the festival of Chthonia at Hermione in Argolis, where a cow was sacrificed by four old women. The epithets Erinys ("Avenger") and Melaina ("the Black One") as applied to Demeter were localized in Arcadia and stress the darker side of her character.

Demeter also appeared as a goddess of health, birth, and marriage and as a divinity of the underworld. A certain number of political and ethnic titles were assigned to her, the most important being Amphiktyonis, as patron goddess of the Amphictyonic League, subsequently well known in connection with the temple at Delphi.

Among the agrarian festivals held in honor of Demeter were the following: (1) Haloa, apparently derived from halos ("threshing floor"), begun at Athens and finished at Eleusis, where there was a threshing floor of Triptolemus, her first priest and inventor of agriculture; it was held in the month Poseideon (December). (2) Chloia, the festival of the grain beginning to sprout, held at Eleusis in the early spring (Anthesterion) in honour of Demeter Chloë ("the Green"), the goddess of growing vegetation. This festival is to be distinguished from the later sacrifice of a ram to the same goddess on the sixth of the month Thargelion, probably intended as an act of propitiation. (3) Proerosia, at which prayers were offered for an abundant harvest, before the land was plowed for sowing. It was also called Proarktouria, an indication that it was held before the rising of Arcturus. The festival took place, probably sometime in September, at Eleusis. (4) Thalysia, a thanksgiving festival held in autumn after the harvest in the island of Cos. (5) TheThesmophoria, a women's festival meant to improve the fruitfulness of the seed grain. (6) The Skirophoria held in midsummer, a companion festival.

Her attributes were connected chiefly with her character as goddess of agriculture and vegetation-ears of grain, the mystic basket filled with flowers, grain, and fruit of all kinds. The pig was her favourite animal, and as a chthonian (underworld) deity she was accompanied by a snake. In Greek art Demeter resembled Hera, but she was more matronly and of milder expression; her form was broader and fuller. She was sometimes riding in a chariot drawn by horses or dragons, sometimes walking, or sometimes seated upon a throne, alone or with her daughter. The Romans identified Demeter with Ceres  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
GAIA May 10, 2005 8:27 PM

Also called Ge or Gaea. Gaia is the Greek personification of the Mother Earth or nature as a goddess. In the Hindu pantheon she is similar to Bhoomi Devi as Mother Earth one of the five Mothers. Giai is mother and wife of Uranus (Heaven), from whom the Titan Cronus, her last born child by him, separated her, she was also mother of the other Titans, the Gigantes, the Erinyes, and the Cyclopes; hence literature and art sometimes made her the enemy of Zeus, for the Titans and Gigantes threatened him. Gaia may have been originally a mother goddess worshipped in Greece before the Hellenes introduced the cult of Zeus. Less widely worshipped in historic times, Gaia was described as the giver of dreams and the nourisher of plants and young children.

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HECATE May 10, 2005 8:27 PM

A Greek goddess, Hecate derives her name from Greek hekate, "she who works her will." Also known as the Triple Goddess. Hecate was accepted at an early date into Greek religion but probably derived from the Carians in southwest Asia Minor. In Hesiod she is the daughter of the Titan Perses and the nymph Asteria and has power over heaven, earth, and sea; hence, she bestows wealth and all the blessings of daily life.

Hecate was the chief goddess presiding over magic and spells. This places her in prominence for practitioners of Wicca. She witnessed the abduction of Demeter's daughter Persephone to the underworld and, torch in hand, assisted in the search for her. Thus, pillars called Hecataea stood at crossroads and doorways, perhaps to keep away evil spirits. Hecate was represented as single-formed, clad in a long robe, holding burning torches; in later representations she was triple-formed, with three bodies standing back to back, probably so that she could look in all directions at once from the crossroads. Because of this she is sometimes referred to as the Triple Goddess.
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DIANA May 10, 2005 8:28 PM

In Roman religion, goddess of wild animals and the hunt, virtually indistinguishable from the Greek goddess Artemis. Her name is akin to the Latin words dium ("sky") and dius ("daylight"). Like her Greek counterpart, she was also a goddess of domestic animals. As a fertility deity she was invoked by women to aid conception and delivery. Though perhaps originally an indigenous woodland goddess, Diana early became identified with Artemis. There was probably no original connection between Diana and the moon, but she later absorbed Artemis' identification with both Selene (Luna) and Hecate, a chthonic (infernal) deity; hence the characterization triformis sometimes used in Latin literature.

The most famous place of worship for the Italian goddess was the grove of Diana Nemorensis ("Diana of the Wood") on the shores of Lake Nemi at Aricia, near Rome. This was a shrine common to the cities of the Latin League. Associated with Diana at Aricia were Egeria, the spirit of a nearby stream who shared with Diana the guardianship of childbirth, and the hero Virbius (the Italian counterpart of Hippolytus), who was said to have been the first priest of Diana's cult at Aricia. A unique and peculiar custom dictated that this priest be a runaway slave and that he slay his predecessor in combat.

At Rome the most important temple of Diana was on the Aventine. This temple housed the foundation charter of the Latin League and was said to date back to King Servius Tullius (6th century BC). In her cult there Diana was also considered the protector of the lower classes, especially slaves; the Ides (13th) of August, her festival at Rome and Aricia, was a holiday for slaves. Another important centre for the worship of Diana was at Ephesus, where the Temple of Artemis (or Diana) was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In Roman art Diana usually appears as a huntress with bow and quiver, accompanied by a hound or deer.
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ISIS May 10, 2005 8:29 PM

The Goddess Isis originated in Egypt and has inscribed on Her temple in Sais, "I, Isis, am all that has been, that is or shall be; no mortal man hath ever me unveiled." By the period of the Roman Empire, she had become the most prominent deity of the Mediterranean basin. She was a formidable contender with the newly founded Christian religion and Her worship continued well into the 6th century AD until persecution pushed Her into the shadows of religiosity.

Egyptian Aset, or Eset, one of the most important goddesses of ancient Egypt. Her name is the Greek form of an ancient Egyptian word that is perhaps associated with a word for "throne."

Little is known of Isis' early cult. In the Pyramid Texts (c. 2350-c. 2100 BC), she is the mourner for her murdered husband, the god Osiris. In her role as the wife of Osiris, she discovered and reunited the pieces of her dead husband's body, was the chief mourner at his funeral, and through her magical power brought him back to life.

Isis hid her son, Horus, from Seth, the murderer of Osiris, until Horus was fully grown and could avenge his father. She defended the child against many attacks from snakes and scorpions. But because Isis was also Seth's sister, she wavered during the eventual battle between Horus and Seth, and in one episode Isis pitied Seth and was beheaded by Horus during their struggle. Despite her variable temperament, she and Horus were regarded by the Egyptians as the perfect mother and son. The shelter she afforded her child gave her the character of a goddess of protection. But her chief aspect was that of a great magician, whose power transcended that of all other deities. Several narratives tell of her magical prowess, with which she could even outwit the creator god Atum. She was invoked on behalf of the sick, and, with the goddesses Nephthys, Neith, and Selket, she protected the dead. She became associated with various other goddesses who had similar functions, and thus her nature became increasingly diverse. In particular, the goddess Hathor and Isis became similar in many respects. In the astral interpretation of the gods, Isis was equated with the dog star Sothis (Sirius).

Isis was represented as a woman with the hieroglyphic sign of the throne on her head, either sitting on a throne, alone or holding the child Horus, or kneeling before a coffin. Occasionally she was shown with a cow's head. As mourner, she was a principal deity in all rites connected with the dead; as magician, she cured the sick and brought the dead to life; and, as mother, she was herself a life-giver.

The cult of Isis spread throughout Egypt. In Akhmim she received special attention as the "mother" of the fertility god Min. She had important temples throughout Egypt and Nubia. By Greco-Roman times she was dominant among Egyptian goddesses, and she received acclaim from Egyptians and Greeks for her many names and aspects. Several temples were dedicated to her in Alexandria, where she became the "patroness of seafarers." From Alexandria her cult was brought to all the shores of the Mediterranean, including Greece and Rome. In Hellenistic times the mysteries of Isis and Osiris developed; these were comparable to other Greek mystery cults.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
JUNO May 10, 2005 8:30 PM

In Roman religion, chief goddess and female counterpart of Jupiter, closely resembling the Greek Hera, with whom she was universally identified. With Jupiter and Minerva, she was a member of the Capitoline triad of deities traditionally introduced by the Etruscan kings. Juno was connected with all aspects of the life of women, most particularly married life. As Juno Lucina, goddess of childbirth, she had a temple on the Esquiline from the 4th century BC. In her role as female comforter she assumed various descriptive names. Individualized, she became a female guardian angel; as every man had his genius, so every woman had her juno. Thus, she represented, in a sense, the female principle of life.

As her cult expanded she assumed wider functions and became, like Hera, the principal female divinity of the state. For example, as Sospita, portrayed as an armed deity, she was invoked all over Latium and particularly at Lanuvium, originally as a saviour of women but eventually as saviour of the state. As Juno Moneta ("the Warner"), she had a temple on the Arx (the northern summit of the Capitoline Hill) from 344 BC; it later housed the Roman mint, and the words "mint" and "money" derive from the name. According to Plutarch, the cackling of her sacred geese saved the Arx from the Gauls in 390 BC. Her significant festivals were the Matronalia on March 1 and the Nonae Caprotinae, which was celebrated under a wild fig tree in the Campus Martius on July 7. Juno is represented in various guises. Most frequently, however, she is portrayed as a standing matron of statuesque proportions and severe beauty, occasionally exhibiting military characteristics.
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MINERVA May 10, 2005 8:31 PM

In Roman religion, Minerva is the goddess of handicrafts, the professions, the arts, and, later, war; she was commonly identified with the Greek Athena. Some scholars believe that her cult was that of Athena introduced at Rome from Etruria. This is reinforced by the fact that Minerva was one of the Capitoline triad, in association with Jupiter and Juno. Her shrine on the Aventine in Rome was a meeting place for guilds of craftsmen, including at one time dramatic poets and actors.

Her worship as a goddess of war encroached upon that of Mars. The erection of a temple to Minerva by Pompey out of the spoils of his Eastern conquests shows that by then she had been identified with the Greek Athena Nike, bestower of victory. Under the emperor Domitian, who claimed her special protection, the worship of Minerva attained its greatest vogue in Rome.
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PERSEPHONE May 10, 2005 8:32 PM

Latin Proserpina, or Proserpine. In Greek religion, daughter of Zeus, the chief god, and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture; she was the wife of Hades, king of the underworld. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter," the story is told of how Persephone was gathering flowers in the Vale of Nysa when she was seized by Hades and removed to the underworld. Upon learning of the abduction, her mother, Demeter, in her misery, became unconcerned with the harvest or the fruitfulness of the Earth, so that widespread famine ensued. Zeus therefore intervened, commanding Hades to release Persephone to her mother. Because Persephone had eaten a single pomegranate seed in the underworld, she could not be completely freed but had to remain one-third of the year with Hades, spending the other two-thirds with her mother. The story that Persephone spent four months of each year in the underworld was no doubt meant to account for the barren appearance of Greek fields in full summer (after harvest), before their revival in the autumn rains, when they are plowed and sown.
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VENUS May 10, 2005 8:33 PM

An ancient Italian (Roman) goddess, Venus is associated with cultivated fields and gardens and later identified by the Romans with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.

Venus had no worship in Rome in early times, as the scholar Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BC) shows, attesting that he could find no mention of her name in old records. This is corroborated by the absence of any festival for her in the oldest Roman calendar and by her lack of a flamen (special priest). Her cult among the Latins, however, seems to be immemorial, for she had apparently at least two ancient temples, one at Lavinium, the other at Ardea, at which festivals of the Latin cities were held. Hence, it was no long step to bring her to Rome, apparently from Ardea itself. But how she came to be identified with so important a deity as Aphrodite remains a puzzle.

That Venus' identification with Aphrodite took place fairly early is certain. A contributory reason for it is perhaps the date (August 19) of the foundation of one of her Roman temples. August 19 is the Vinalia Rustica, a festival of Jupiter; hence, he and Venus came to be associated, and this facilitated their equation, as father and daughter, with the Greek deities Zeus and Aphrodite. She was, therefore, also a daughter of Dione, was the wife of Vulcan, and was the mother of Cupid. In myth and legend she was famous for her romantic intrigues and affairs with both gods and mortals, and she became associated with many aspects, both positive and negative, of femininity. As Venus Verticordia, she was charged with the protection of chastity in women and girls. But the most important cause of the identification was the reception into Rome of the famous cult of Venus Erycina-i.e., of Aphrodite of Eryx (Erice) in Sicily-this cult itself resulting from the identification of an Oriental mother-goddess with the Greek deity. This reception took place during and shortly after the Second Punic War. A temple was dedicated to Venus Erycina on the Capitol in 215 BC and a second outside the Colline gate in 181 BC. The latter developed in a way reminiscent of the temple at Eryx with its harlots, becoming the place of worship of Roman courtesans, hence the title of dies meretricum ("prostitutes' day") attached to April 23, the day of its foundation. The importance of the worship of Venus-Aphrodite was increased by the political ambitions of the gens Iulia, the clan of Julius Caesar and, by adoption, of Augustus. They claimed descent from Iulus, the son of Aeneas; Aeneas was the alleged founder of the temple of Eryx and, in some legends, of the city of Rome also. From the time of Homer onward, he was made the son of Aphrodite, so that his descent gave the Iulii divine origin. Others than the Iulii sought to connect themselves with a deity grown so popular and important, notably Gnaeus Pompeius, the triumvir. He dedicated a temple to Venus as Victrix ("Bringer of Victory") in 55 BC. Julius Caesar's own temple (46 BC), however, was dedicated to Venus Genetrix, and as Genetrix ("Begetting Mother") she was best known until the death of Nero in AD 68. But despite the extinction of the Julio-Claudian line, she remained popular, even with the emperors; Hadrian completed a temple of Venus at Rome in AD 135.

As a native Italian deity, Venus had no myths of her own. She therefore took over those of Aphrodite and, through her, became identified with various foreign goddesses. The most noteworthy result of this development is perhaps the acquisition by the planet Venus of that name. The planet was at first the star of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and thence of Aphrodite. Because of her association with love and with feminine beauty, the goddess Venus has been a favorite subject in art since ancient times; notable representations include the statue known as the "Venus de Milo" (c. 150 BC) and the painting "The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli

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 May 10, 2005 8:42 PM

This is awsome information thank you!  [ send green star]
 
 May 11, 2005 8:07 PM

Flora

Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers, or of the flowering of plants. I originally called this painting ‘La mort de Flore’ (The death of Flora). Flora was originally worshipped as the goddess of seeds and fruit. Later, she became the goddess of all that flowers’.When was Flora first worshipped? We know that her festival the Floralia, was introduced to Rome around 200 BC. But when was Flora last worshipped, was last taken seriously?

My painting shows Flora dying. A peaceful death amongst her flowers (as a botanist friend of mine once commented), but then, maybe she does not die at all. In the country where I live, the end of autumn brings heavy frost that kills the season’s last flowers. Winter’s deep snowfalls, cover the landscape until the end of April. Spring comes, and the flora that was destroyed by the cold is brought back to life. Brought back to life? In fact, no, since the life of the flowers was never really lost at all.

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anonymous  May 11, 2005 8:12 PM

Joan....I do so love this information!! Thank you!!  [report anonymous abuse]  [ accepted]
 
 May 11, 2005 8:28 PM

In Greek religion, the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, and vegetation, and of chastity and childbirth; she was identified by the Romans with Diana. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. Among the rural populace, Artemis was the favorite goddess. Her character and function varied greatly from place to place, but, apparently, behind all forms lay the goddess of wild nature, who danced, usually accompanied by nymphs, in mountains, forests, and marshes. Artemis embodied the sportsman's ideal, so besides killing game she also protected it, especially the young; this was the Homeric significance of the title Mistress of Animals.

The worship of Artemis probably flourished in Crete or on the Greek mainland in pre-Hellenic times. Many of Artemis' local cults, however, preserved traces of other deities, often with Greek names, suggesting that, upon adopting her, the Greeks identified Artemis with nature divinities of their own.

While the mythological roles of other prominent Olympians evolved in the works of the poets, the lore of Artemis developed primarily from cult. Dances of maidens representing tree nymphs (dryads) were especially common in Artemis' worship as goddess of the tree cult, a role especially popular in the Peloponnese. Throughout the Peloponnese, bearing such epithets as Limnaea and Limnatis (Lady of the Lake), Artemis supervised waters and lush wild growth, attended by nymphs of wells and springs (naiads). In parts of the peninsula her dances were wild and lascivious.

Outside the Peloponnese, Artemis' most familiar form was as Mistress of Animals. Poets and artists usually pictured her with the stag or hunting dog, but the cults showed considerable variety. For instance, the Tauropolia festival at Halae Araphenides in Attica honoured Artemis Tauropolos (Bull Goddess), who received a few drops of blood drawn by sword from a man's neck.

The frequent stories of the love affairs of Artemis' nymphs are supposed by some to have originally been told of the goddess herself. The poets after Homer, however, stressed Artemis' chastity and her delight in the hunt, dancing and music, shadowy groves, and the cities of just men. The wrath of Artemis was proverbial, for to it myth attributed wild nature's hostility to humans. Yet Greek sculpture avoided Artemis' unpitying anger as a motif; in fact, the goddess herself did not become popular as a subject in the great sculptural schools until the relatively gentle 4th-century-BC spirit prevailed.

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Sedna Goddess of the Sea May 11, 2005 9:02 PM

Sedna is a very significant figure in Inuit mythology. There are a number of different versions of the myth of Sedna. I will share with you the one I prefer.

As the legend goes, Sedna was a beautiful Inuit girl who lived with her father. She was very vain and thought she was too beautiful to marry just anyone. Time and time again she turned down hunters who came to her camp wishing to marry her. Finally one day her father said to her "Sedna, we have no food and we will go hungry soon. You need a husband to take care of you, so the next hunter who comes to ask your hand in marriage, you must marry him." Sedna ignored her father and kept brushing her hair as she looked at her reflection in the water.
inuit kayaker Soon her father saw another hunter approaching their camp. The man was dressed elegantly in furs and appeared to be well-to-do even though his face was hidden. Sedna's father spoke to the man. "If you wish to seek a wife I have a beautiful daughter . She can cook and sew and I know she will make a good wife." Under great protest, Sedna was placed aboard of the hunters kayak and journeyed to her new home. Soon they arrived at an island. Sedna looked around. She could see nothing. No sod hut, no tent, just bare rocks and a cliff. The hunter stood before Sedna and as he pulled down his hood, he let out and evil laugh. Sedna's husband was not a man as she had thought but a raven in disguise. She screamed and tried to run, but the bird dragged her to a clearing on the cliff. Sedna's new home was a few tufts of animal hair and feathers strewn about on the hard, cold rock. The only food she had to eat was fish. Her husband, the raven, brought raw fish to her after a day of flying off in search of food.

Sedna was very unhappy and miserable. She cried and cried and called her father's name. Through the howling arctic winds Sedna's father could hear his daughter's cries. He felt guilty for what he had done as he knew she was sad. Sedna's father decided it was time to rescue his daughter. He loaded up his kayak and paddled for days through the frigid arctic waters to his Sedna's home. When he arrived Sedna was standing on the shore. Sedna hugged her father then quickly climbed into his kayak and paddled away. After many hours of travel Sedna turned and saw a black speck far off into the distance. She felt the fear well up inside of her for she knew the speck was her angry husband flying in search of her.

oceanshoreThe big black raven swooped down upon the kayak bobbing on the ocean. Sedna's father took his paddle and struck at the raven but missed as the bird continued to harass them. Finally the raven swooped down near the kayak and flapped his wing upon the ocean. A vicious storm began to brew. The calm arctic ocean soon became a raging torrent tossing the tiny kayak to and fro. Sedna's father became very frightened. He grabbed Sedna and threw her over the side of the kayak into the ocean. "Here, he screamed, here is your precious wife, please do not hurt me, take her."

Sedna screamed and struggled as her body began go numb in the icy arctic waters. She swam to the kayak and reached up, her fingers grasping the side of the boat. Her father, terrified by the raging storm, thought only of himself as he grabbed the paddle and began to pound against Sedna's fingers. Sedna screamed for her father to stop but to no avail. Her frozen fingers cracked and fell into the ocean. Affected by her ghastly husbands powers, Sedna's fingers while sinking to the bottom, turned into seals. Sedna attempted again to swim and cling to her father's kayak. Again he grabbed the paddle and began beating at her hands. Again Sedna's hands, frozen by the arctic sea again cracked off. The stumps began to drift to the bottom of the sea, this time turned into the whales and other large mammals. Sedna could fight no more and began to sink herself.

Sedna, tourmented and raging with anger for what had happened to her, did not perish. She became, and still is today, the goddess of the sea. Sedna's companions are the seals, and the whales that sit with her at the bottom on the ocean. Her anger and fury against man is what drums up the violent seas and storms . Hunters have a great respect for her. Legend has it that they must treat her with respect. Shaman's from the world above must swim down to her to comb her long black tangled hair. This calms Sedna down. Once this is done, she releases her mammals to allow the Inuit to eat from the bounty of the sea. It is for this reason in the north that after a hunter catches a seal he drops water into the mouth of the mammal, a gesture to thank Sedna for her kindness in allowing him to feed his family.


This is the legend of Sedna.

 [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 June 20, 2005 9:25 AM

This is great info!  Do you have anything on Celtic Goddesses?  [ send green star]
 
 August 12, 2006 9:17 AM

Do you have an extensive information on Brighid?  [ send green star]
 
 October 14, 2006 9:10 PM

will there be anything on gods?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
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