Dea Tacita

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Dea Tacita (“the silent goddess”) was a goddess of the dead in Roman mythology.

She was compared to the naiad Larunda in later times. On December 23, Dea Tacita was worshipped under this form at the Larentalia festival. A person requests “ut mutus sit Quartusand “erret fugiens ut mus” in an inscription from Cambodunum in Raetia, invoking the goddesses Mutae Tacitae to kill the person they despise(“that Quartus be mute” and that he “wander, fleeing, like a mouse”). The dread of obscurity is personified in these quiet goddesses. Numa Pompilius attributed Tacita with his oracular vision and instructed the Romans to worship her, according to Plutarch, who refers to Tacita as a Muse.

Naiad, daughter of the river-dweller Almone, was originally called Lara or Lala, a name derived from the Greek λαλέω, “to talk, to chatter.” Because of her too much talking, she was punished by Jupiter, because she had revealed his intentions to Juno. Jupiter had her tongue cut out and entrusted her to Mercury to lead her to the Underworld. On the way, Mercury fell in love with her and Had carnal intercourse with her. From this act were born twins, the Lares compitales, who, in the religion of ancient Rome, were given the task of guarding the city streets.

As goddess of silence, Lala thus assumed the name Tacita Muta. Annual rites in her honor involved sprinkling the head of a fish with pitch, roasting it in wine, and drinking the resulting drink. It was a propitiatory rite to prevent the spread of slander in the city. The Romans combined this holiday with that of the Dead (the Feralia), both because Lara was the mother of the Lares and because, having her tongue cut off, the goddess was a symbol of death, characterized among other things by eternal silence.

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