More About Goddesses: Minerva, the Roman Goddess of the Arts by Sir William Smith (Guest Blog Post)
Minerva is called Athena by the Greeks. The Greek goddess is spoken of in a separate article. [Athena]. Minerva was one of the great Roman divinities. Her name seems to be of the same root as mens; and she is accordingly the thinking, calculating, and inventive power personified. Jupiter was the 1st, Juno the 2nd, and Minerva the 3rd in the number of the Capitoline divinities. Tarquin, the son of Demaratus, was believed to have united the 3 divinities in one common temple, and hence, when repasts were prepared for the gods, these 3 always went together.
|The Later CapitoLine Dieties: |
Juno, Jupiter and Minerva
She was the daughter of Jupiter, and is said to have sometimes wielded the thunderbolts of her father. As Minerva was a virgin divinity, and her father the supreme god, the Romans easily identified her with the Greek Athena, and accordingly all the attributes of Athena were gradually transferred to the Roman Minerva. But we confine ourselves at present to those which were peculiar to the Roman goddess.
Being a maiden goddess, her sacrifices consisted of calves which had not home the yoke. She is said to have invented numbers; and it is added that the law respecting the driving in of the annual nail was for this reason attached to the temple of Minerva. She was worshipped as the patroness of all the arts and trades, and at her festival she was particularly invoked by all who desired to distinguish themselves in any art or craft, such as painting, poetry, the art of teaching, medicine, dyeing, weaving, and the like. This character of the goddess may be perceived also from the proverbs to do a thing skillfully even mindlessly, i. e. to do a thing in an awkward or clumsy manner; and with Minerva's blessing even the efforts of a stupid person may be they who (are) presumed to set right an intelligent one.
Minerva, however, was the patroness, not only of females, on whom she conferred skill in sewing, spinning, weaving, but she also guided men in the dangers of war, where victory is gained by cunning, prudence, courage, and perseverance. Often she was represented with a helmet, shield, and a coat of mail; and the booty made in war was frequently dedicated to her. Minerva was further believed to be the inventor of musical instruments, especially wind instruments, the use of which was very important in religious worship, and which were accordingly subjected to a sort of purification every year on the last day of the festival of Minerva. This festival lasted 5 days, from the 19th to the 23rd of March, and was called QuintArius, because it began on the 5th day after the ides of the month. This number of days was not accidental, for we are told that the number 5 was sacred to Minerva,