Feronia

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Feronia was a goddess of fertility, plenty, health, and wildlife in the religion of the ancient Romans.

She was especially revered by plebeians and freedmen because they saw her as the goddess who gave freedom to slaves or civic rights to the most deserving segment of society. Her festival, the Feroniae, was held on November 13 (the ides of November) in conjunction with Fortuna Primigenia at the Ludi Plebeii (“Plebeian Games”). Both were Praeneste deities.

Some Latins revered Feronia as a goddess of the harvest and gave her the firstfruits in order to ensure a bountiful crop the next year. Feronia was compared by Varro to Libertas, the goddess who represented Liberty. Servius claimed that Feronia served as a tutelary deity for freedmen (dea libertorum).

The majority of Feronian inscriptions are located in central Italy. All of Ferona’s shrines were out in the wilderness, far from any populated areas. However, Varro included Feronia in his list of Sabine deities with shrines at Rome.

Feronia had a male companion, Soranus, whose shrine was next to her.

Featured image: Head identified as Feronia (Archaeologic Museum of Rieti)

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