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FAMA (Gr. cI i.a1, "Ovoa)

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Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 158 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FAMA (Gr. cI i.a1, "Ovoa), in classical mythology, the personification of Rumour. The Homeric equivalent Ossa (Iliad, ii. 93) is represented as the messenger of Zeus, who spreads reports with the rapidity of a conflagration. Homer does not personify Pheme, which is merely a presage drawn from human utterances, whereas Ossa (until later times) is associated with the idea of divine origin. A more definite character is given to Pheme by Hesiod (Works and Days, 764), who calls her a goddess; in Sophocles (Oed. Tyr. 158) she is the immortal daughter of golden Hope and is styled by the orator Aeschines (Contra Timarchum, ยง 128) one of the mightiest of goddesses. According to Pausanias (i. 17. 1) there was a temple of Pheme at Athens, and at Smyrna (ib. ix. 11, 7), whose inhabitants were especially fond of seeking the aid of divination, there was a sanctuary of Cledones (sounds or rumours supposed to convey omens). There does not seem to have been any cult of Fama among the Romans, by whom she was regarded merely as "a figure of poetical religion." The Temple of Fame and Omen (Pheme and Cledon) mentioned by Plutarch (Moralia, p. 319) is due to a con-fusion with Aius Locutius, the divinity who warned the Romans of the coming attack of the Gauls. There are well-known descriptions of Fame in Virgil (Aeneid, iv. 173) and Ovid (Metam. xii. 39); see also Valerius Flaccus (ii. 116), Statius (Thebais, iii. 425). An unfavourable idea gradually became attached to the name; thus Ennius speaks of Fama as the personification of " evil " reputation and the opposite of Gloria (cp. the adjective famosus, which is not used in a good sense till the post-Augustan age). Chaucer in his House of Fame is obviously imitating Virgil and Ovid, although he is also indebted to Dante's Divina Commedia.
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