Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Quinquatrus minusculae

1The "Greater" Quinquatrus is a festival dedicated to Minerva. Ovid says that this festival was celebrated in commemoration of the birthday of Minerva; but according to Festus it was sacred to Minerva because her temple on the Aventine was consecrated on that day. Sacrifices were offered to Minerva, the goddess of war as well as wisdom, arts and crafts, dyeing, science and trade, and patroness of trumpet players. She was also the patroness of scholars and pedagogues, who enjoyed a holiday at this time, with the pupils giving their pedagogues gifts, dedicated to Minerva, at the close of the festival. We see her depicted in art with Iuno and Iuppiter on the Great Arch of Trajan, and she frequently appears on sarcophagi offering a new life beyond the grave.

The Roman goddess Minerva probably derived from the Etruscan goddess Minerva, and was later modeled on Greek Pallas Athena. Minerva was the Etruscan version of Athena, and depicted similarly (with helm, spear, and shield). Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of a god, in her case Tinia, and she is part of a triad with Tinia and Uni. Minerva sprang fully armed from the head of Iuppiter, whose head had been split open with Vulcan's axe.

The Italian goddess of intelligence, meditation, and inventiveness, queen of all accomplishments and arts, especially of spinning and weaving, as practised by women. She was also the patron-goddess of fullers, dyers, cobblers, carpenters, musicians, sculptors, painters, physicians, actors, poets, schoolmasters, and especially of schoolchildren. Her oldest and most important sanctuaries were at Rome on the hills of the town; on the Capitol, where she occupied the chamberon the right in the great temple common to her with Jupiter and Juno; on the Aventine, where the official meeting place of poets and actors was situated, and on the. Caelian.

In the course of time the Greek conception gained more ground; Minerva was identified with Pallas Athene. This certainly happened with regard to Athene considered as the bestower of victory and booty, when Pompey erected a temple to her from the booty won in his Eastern campaigns. And Augustus must have regarded her as Athene the Counsellor when he added to his Curia Iulia a vestibule dedicated to Minerva. The Roman Minerva was represented in art in the same manner as the Greek goddess.

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