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 battle. 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 being 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.
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 utmost significance for artists and craftspeople.
Featured image: Minerva, detail from Andrea Mantegna’s Triumph of Virtue (1499-1502)
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