Vacuna

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Ancient Roman sources associated the Sabine goddess Vacuna with a number of different deities, including Ceres, Diana, Nike, Minerva, Bellona, Venus, and Victoria.

She was mostly venerated in Rome, Reate, and a sanctuary close to Horace’s mansion (now in the town of Licenza). It’s still unclear what kind of protection she was expected to offer. In his commentary on Horace, Pomponius Porphyrion refers to her as incerta specie (of an unknown type). She was a deity to whom the country folk gave offerings after the labors of the field were over, that is, when they were at leisure, vacui, according to Renaissance authors and Leonhard Schmitz.

Her name has roots in poverty and want, and Horace seems to be pleading for her assistance on behalf of a friend in one of his epistles. From this, it has been assumed that she was prayed to on behalf of individuals who were not there, such as absent family members or acquaintances. Ovid refers to rituals using sacramental flames that involve standing or seated attendants and that he relates to earlier Vesta-related ceremonies performed without any mention of field labour or absent loved ones.

Featured image: wikimedia

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