Carmenta

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In Roman religion, Carmenta or Nicostrata, is one of the Camenae goddesses and is included in the group of Di indigetes.

The Latin alphabet was also credited to Carmenta. The term Carmenta comes from the Latin word carmen, which also serves as the basis for the English word charm. It means a magic spell, oracle, or song. Her first name was Nicostrate, but it was eventually modified to reflect her reputation for providing oracles (Latin singular: carmen). She was the mother of Evander of Pallene, a son of Hermes (Mercury), and together with other of his Greek followers, they established Pallantium, which subsequently served as one of the founding locations of Rome. One of the Camenae and the Cimmerian Sibyl was Carmenta. The flamen carmentalis was the name of her cult’s leader.

King Evander and his mother Carmenta founded a city on the Tiber in the year 1320 BC, sixty years before the Trojan War. Carmenta set the groundwork for the mighty metropolis that would one day become Rome. She taught the barbaric people of Italy about agriculture, poetry, and music. On January 11 and January 15, ladies mostly celebrated her celebration, known as the Carmentalia.

Carmenta in a codex of Giovanni Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris

Featured image: Carmenta inventing the Latin alphabet (Antoine Dufour, 1504)

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