Online Encyclopedia

MINERVA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 523 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MINERVA, an Italian goddess, subsequently identified with Athena. She presided over all handicrafts, inventions, arts and sciences. Her oldest sanctuary at Rome was in the temple built by Tarquin on the Capitol, where she was worshipped with Jupiter and Juno. She had also a temple on the Aventine, which was the meeting-place for dramatic poets and actors, whose organization into gilds under her patronage dated from the time of Livius Andronicus (q.v.). The dedication day of the temple was the 19th of March, the great festival of Minerva, called quinquatrus, because it fell on the fifth day after the ides. All the schools had holidays at this time, and the pupils on reassembling brought a fee (minerval) to the teachers. In every house also the quinquatrus was a holiday, for Minerva (like Athena Ergane) was patron of the women's weaving and spinning and the workmen's craft. At a later time the festival extended over five days, the last four being chiefly occupied with gladiatorial shows—because Minerva was the goddess of war (Ovid, Fasti, iii. 809-834; Juvenal x. 115, with Mayor's note). The erection of a temple to her by Pompey out of the spoils of his eastern conquests shows that she was the bestower of victory, like Athena Nike, and the dedication of a vestibule in the senate house by Augustus recalls Athena the goddess of counsel (fouXaia). Under Domitian, who claimed her special protection, the worship of Minerva attained its greatest vogue in Rome. The emperor Hadrian founded an educational institution, named after her the Athenaeum. The 23rd of March had always been the day of the tubilustrium, or purification of the trumpets used in the sacred rites, so that the ceremony came to be on the last day of Minerva's festival, but it is very doubtful whether it was really connected with her. There was another temple of Minerva on the Caelian Hill, where she was worshipped under the name of Capta, the " captive," the origin of which is unknown. Here a festival called the lesser quinquatrus was celebrated on the 13th-14th of June, chiefly by the flute-players (Livy ix. 30; Ovid, Fasti, vi. 651). As the Romans learnt the use of the flute from the Etruscans, the fact of Minerva being the patron goddess of flute-players is in favour of her Etruscan origin, although it may merely be a reminiscence of the Greek story which attributed the invention of the flute to Athena. A carved image of the goddess called the Palladium, said to have been brought from Troy to Lavinium, and thence to Rome by the family of the Nautii, was kept in the temple of Vesta and carefully guarded as necessary to the prosperity of the city. The older form of the name Minerva is Menerva (= Menes-va, Gr. p. vos) ; it probably means " thinker."
End of Article: MINERVA
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