Mana Genita

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Mana Genita or Geneta Mana is a little-known goddess in the religion of the ancient Romans that is only referenced by Pliny, Plutarch, and Horace.

Pliny and Plutarch both claim that a puppy or a bitch was sacrificed as part of her ceremonies. The goddess Mana is derived from the Latin word manare, which means “to flow,” according to Plutarch. The Roman grammarian Verrius Flaccus also ties this derivation to the goddess Mania described by Varro and to the Manes, the spirits of the deceased. The goddess is loosely compared to Hekate by Plutarch from a Greek equivalent standpoint because of the bitch sacrifice, and he also observes that the Argive practice of dog sacrifice also offers for an intriguing connection between the goddess and Eilioneia, or the birth goddess Eileithyia. She is compared to Eileithyia in Carmen Saeculare by Horace as well. Some contemporary critics have expanded on the qualifiers “Genita” and “Mana,” suggesting she was a deity with the power to determine whether babies were born alive or dead.

Others have speculated that when Horace references a goddess named Genitalis in the Carmen Saeculare, he could be alluding to this deity. Others believe that Genita Mana may just be a general epithet like Bona Dea rather than an actual theonym, similar to how some have compared it to the Oscan Deiua Geneta (birth goddess).

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