Minerva, The Goddess of Arts and Wisdom

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Roman goddess Minerva is the patroness of the arts, commerce, and strategy as well as the giver of knowledge, justice, and the law.

Unlike Mars, who is a patron of violence, Minerva only supports defensive battles. She was compared to the Greek goddess Athena by the Romans beginning in the second century BC. Along with Jupiter and Juno, Minerva is one of the three Roman gods that make up the Capitoline Triad. Her origins are Etruscan (Menrva) who very early merged her with Athena, her counterpart in Greek mythology. Minerva was also venerated by the ancient Italics, as evidenced by the archaic sanctuary at Lavinium.

Related article: Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome

Minerva was the virgin goddess of art, commerce, poetry, healing, knowledge, and weaving. She is typically seen with her holy animal, an owl known as the “owl of Minerva,” which represents her link with knowledge and wisdom. Less frequently, she is pictured with the serpent and the olive tree. Minerva is frequently shown as tall, athletic, and muscular, dressed in armor, and holding a spear. She is greatly recognized, venerated, and revered as the foremost Roman deity. She represented the universe’s design and concepts in Marcus Terentius Varro’s eyes.

On the fifth day following the Ides of March, which is the nineteenth, the Romans observed her festival from March 19 to March 23. This day is known in the neuter plural as Quinquatria. She was the patron goddess of craftsmanship and the arts, hence this event had the utmost significance for artists and craftspeople.

Paolo Farinati, Minerva che uccide il Vizio, 1590 circa, affresco
Paolo FarinatiMinerva che uccide il Vizio, 1590 circa, affresco

Featured image: Minerva, detail from Andrea Mantegna’s Triumph of Virtue (1499-1502)

Last Updated on 2023/01/04


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