Saturday, June 25, 2011

Roman Tale of a Fairy -Edward Halley's (1697-1731) trans. of a letter by ?Pliny the Younger? (61-112) to Licinius Sura (d.~108)

Letter from Pliny the Younger to Licinius Sura
Translated by Edward Halley
I have recently heard a curious tale that I would like to lay before you. It is the sort of thing that would very much appeal to you, and I should be quite grateful to learn your opinion on the matter. I record the story in as great of detail as I can recall it in case even the smallest item will be crucial for you to draw your conclusions.
At the end of the reign of Vespasian, there lived a young boy[1] in Herculaneum. His father was of the order of knights[2] and the family had long been wealthy. Their house had been relatively undamaged by the earthquake of 62,[3] and so while other houses were redecorated or rebuilt, this one retained in most rooms frescoes of a style which had not been fashionable for several decades-that which Vitruvius praised for its accurate representation of real things, from men and animals to architecture and landscapes. The boy evidently possessed great imagination and when not in his lessons preferred, rather than playing with other young lads, the solitary pursuit of wandering from room to room about the house, wondering what it might be like to climb through the painted windows and explore the fields or cities that lay beyond them.
One day, as the child made his progression through the house from one fantasy to another, his attention was arrested by a figure sittng upon a window sill where a person had never been painted before. The boy cried out in surprise and made toward the wall, but the figure, which had appeared merely a painted man until now, motioned the boy to be quiet and indicated that another person in the room with the boy was the reason for this silence, although all this was done in such a playful manner as to invite the boy to participate in some secret. This the boy did, for when the other person, a servant, asked the boy what the matter was, he replied that there was nothing wrong at all. Though the servant seemed to stand such that he must see both the boy and the fresco with the strange man, he did not appear to notice anything amiss, and departed soon after.[4]
While the boy waited for the servant to leave, he took the opportunity to observe the figure more carefully. He was wearing a tunic made of the Deeds of Ancestors, fastened with a belt of Piety,[5] sandals made of from good Fortune and Wise Decisions and a toga woven of Citizenship. When the servant had departed, this apparition spoke to the boy, saying that they were now free to converse with one another. The boy asked him if he was the household Lar.[6] The figure seemed to consider this for a moment but presently said that he was indeed. The boy then asked if the Lar often walked about in the paintings, and if so, what were they like? The Lar responded that they were magnificent places and he would be immensely happy to show them to the boy if the latter should so desire. Accordingly, he offered his hand, which the boy took and found himself presently standing beside the Lar. Behind him, the room of his house appeared as a painting on a wall, while before him the world of the painting stretched into the distance.
This particular fresco was of an enormous city, much grander than Herculaneum. It did not represent any particular real place, although in magnificence it must have rivaled Carthage of old, or hill-top Troy, or even Rome itself. Together, the boy and the Lar wandered about its streets and many people called out to the Lar either to exchange greetings with him or invite him to dine with them at some time or else to inquire his advice upon some matter. The boy was very much delighted with this, for it was what he understood his father to do when he went to the forum, though young as he was the boy was never permitted to go with him. Here, however, no one seemed to take it amiss that a mere lad accompanied a great man of business. Presently, the boy asked if the Lar lived here. No, the Lar replied, he did not precisely live here, but he did visit the place often. After this, the Lar began to point out some of the men whom they passed, and many of these were shown to be the Lares of other families of Herculaneum, friends of the boy's father. This, the Lar told him, was the City of the Gods[7] where many important people were often to be found and where spectacular celebrations or festivals of some sort were held almost every day of the year.[8] Indeed, upon this day there was to be a splendid procession, rather like a general's Triumph, to welcome the newly deified Vespasian to the city.[9]
The Lar led the boy to a portico from which they would have a good view of the street. Around them, the other Lares in the street moved to either side of the roadway, climbing atop steps if they could. Before long a spectacular procession came into view. Near its head, the newly deified Vespasian rode in a chariot wearing the triumphal purple toga with gold trim. Ordinarily, the boy understood, a slave stood in the chariot whispering 'Remember, though art mortal' to a triumphant general, but here Vespasian rode alone. Behind Vespasian's chariot Lares carried placards of Vespasian's accomplishments in life; not only his military victories, but also his civic achievements-the construction of the Temple of Peace and the names of all the numerous roads he built throughout the empire-and his virtues: modesty, diligence, industry, openhandedness. The procession wound its way up a hill to a temple which, the Lar said, honored Jupiter. Arrayed along the porches of the temple were about two dozen men, most of whom wore white togas with a purple hem over purple tunics-richer garb than any living man was permitted to wear-but several were dressed differently; one wearing a lion's skin must have been the deified hero Hercules.
After the ceremony was finished, the Lar said that it was surely time for the boy to return home, and for his part, he too had other things he must do. When they had returned to the place from which the boy had entered the world, and found again the painting which showed the room in his house, the Lar enjoined the boy most strictly that he must not let go the former's hand until he was once again entirely in his own home or else he would be lost forever between this world and his own.[10] The boy promised to faithfully follow the Lar instructions and was thus returned to his home without incident. Once the boy was safely in the room again, the Lar bade him farewell for the present, but told him to keep an eye out in the future, for, having found the boy to be marvelous company, he would surely return again.
It was several weeks before the boy again saw the Lar. This time he was perched upon a rock in a fresco which showed the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, for there Thisbe fled away to a cave, while the lion tore apart her veil and Pyramus himself was just approaching the dismal scene. The Lar called out to the boy and invited the latter to join him in the painting, stretching out his hand for the boy to take it. The boy hesitated, looking at the lion, not a little frightened, but the Lar bade him be not afraid, for they were all characters in a story and would not harm him. With this, the boy took the Lar's hand and presently found himself also in the night time world. Behind him, the room the boy had just left appeared as a painted wall, but the Lar raised a fist to tap it and it disappeared.
The Lar led the boy away from the impending tragedy of the lovers, where the boy could now hear the lion growling as it rent the fabric and stained it with its bloody teeth and claws. Together, they passed by a shepherd sleeping quietly on a mountain-side, and the Lar said that this was Endymion whom the Moon had fallen in love with and caused to sleep forever where she might see him as she drove her chariot through the sky. The Lar and the boy strolled through a forest where they heard the song of a nightingale, and the Lar told the boy that this was Philomela who was most cruelly treated by her sister's husband and afterwards made into the nightingale. Continuing on, they came to a spring, and the Lar said that this was Arethusa, the young maiden who followed Diana and who, when pursued by the river god Alpheus, cried out to Diana to save her and was thus transformed into a spring.
As boy and Lar walked, they passed not only out of the wood but out of the night and came thus to a seashore in the daytime. Here they saw two birds building a nest upon the waves and the boy, who knew his Ovid, asked if these were Ceyx and Alcyone. The Lar smiled a the boy, pleased with his cleverness, and said that it was so. And so they wandered on, seeing Aeneas shipwrecked upon the shores of Carthage, Hercules leading the cattle of Geryon back to Eurystheus and many other heroes and heroic deeds.
At length, however, the Lar said that he had other things to which he must attend, and the boy himself had best return home, lest he be missed. They returned, therefore, to the moonlit scene of Pyramus and Thisbe, where Thisbe still fled, the lion still shredded her veil, and Pyramus still gradually approached the trysting-place. Here, the Lar raised his fist as if to knock upon the empty air, but struck instead the wall which showed the painted room of the boy's house, and the Lar again enjoined the boy that he not release the Lar's hand until he was wholly back in his own house, or else the boy would be lost forever between the two worlds. This the boy again promised to do, and he returned safely to his home. The Lar again bade him farewell for the time, but told the boy to keep an eye out, for he would surely return eventually.
Several weeks again passed before the boy next saw the Lar. The summer was well advanced and though the day was early yet, it would surely grow quite hot. This morning the boy was sitting upon the floor of the dining room which was painted to resemble an orchard full of fruit trees and little shrubs, with numerous birds hopping or flying about and a couple of fountains, which surely spouted cool water. The Lar found him here and offered his hand, inviting the boy to come into the orchard. This the boy readily accepted and presently he stood upon the cool grass and heard the splashing of the fountains. The Lar, as he had the previous time, rapped upon the wall which showed the painted room and it disappeared.
Together the two of them climbed trees and chased little lizard in the grass, for the Lar was disposed today to act like a child himself, and so they played throughout the day. By the evening, the boy had grown rather hungry but was reluctant to leave his friend if there was no business calling the Lar away. Perceiving this, the Lar offered the boy an orange from one of the trees. The boy was wary and asked if he would have to stay there forever if he ate it. The Lar laughed and answered that he need have no fear-this was not the underworld and eating would bring him no harm. Reassured, the boy took the fruit and found it to be of excellent flavour, and thereafter the two wandered further afield, gathering olives from trees, grapes from vines and milk fresh from a goat. There was no bread or cheese to be had, nor yet any relish,[11] but they made a pleasant repast nonetheless.
As evening drew on, the stars emerged. These were arranged in very different patterns than any the boy had ever seen, but the Lar pointed out the different constellations and named them and told their stories. Now the boy grew sleepy, but as the Lar did not press him to leave, he determined to remain still in the world of the painting. Since the birds continued to sing despite the darkness, the Lar offered to fetch the dragon of Lepidus,[12] but the boy had fallen asleep before he had finished speaking.
When the boy awoke in the morning, he and the Lar again ate the food of the orchard world. The boy, however, had now become anxious to return home and even asked the Lar that he might do so. The Lar endeavoured to dissuade him, but the boy persisted and so he at last acquiesced. They returned to the place where the boy had entered the world, and as before the Lar raised his hand as if to knock upon the empty air but struck instead the wall which appeared, bearing the painted room. For the third time,[13] he warned the boy not to let go his hand until he had crossed entirely into his own house, lest he be lost forever between the two worlds. This the boy promised to do and began to enter the wall. But when he had passed only partway through, enough to see the room itself, he let out a cry of horror at the sight. For the day was 25th of August of the year 79,[14] the second day of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The boy, half-way between the orchard world and his home, dropped the hand of the Lar and vanished. Whatever became of him, it is certain that he neither lives in the world of the painting nor died in our own.[15]
This is the story as it was told to me. I am particularly anxious to know whether you find it at all plausible. Would it be possible, by some perhaps magical means, to enter a scene depicted in a painting? If one were to do so, would one then encounter a world of Lares? Supposing both of these, and further that some sort of interaction, at least, was once a common practice, would it be feasible to posit that the much declined state of our modern time is due in no small part to the degradation of our domestic art, which, consisting as it now does of architectural impossibilities on the rare occasions it even depicts entire scenes, could not be inhabited by any person and therefore no longer allows communication between a patriarch and his Lar? Farewell.
[1] Halley: 'The hero and all other characters are nameless; they are referred to solely by epithets, in this case ones describing what they are (though other stories describe qualities such as virtues or vices).'
[2] Latin equites, the lesser of the two orders of Roman nobility, the greater being the Senatorial order.
[3] Pliny, of course, would not have identified the year by Anno Domini, but the names of that year's consuls.
[4] Halley: 'Fairy can only be seen by a child; adult is explicitly unable to do so. Common motif in European lore.'
[5] The Latin pietas conveys not only religious reverence but also familial and patriotic duty.
[6] A lar was a minor god associated with a family. All families, rich and poor, had a lar to whom offerings were left at a small shrine that also honored the family's ancestors. The word lar is sometimes also understood to apply to the various localized gods of the Romans, such as the god of the River Tiber or the goddess of some tree. In modern practice, of course, Lar (usually capitalized) is the accepted translation from English to Latin of 'fairy'.
[7] From what follows, it is clear that this city is not some variation of Olympus, which might be inferred from Urbs Deorum, but rather an Urbs Divorum-a city of lesser gods and of deified men, notably the deceased emperors.
[8] Halley: 'Ancient Roman Lares display as much fondness for ceremony as more recent English fairies. The single event described here is not conclusive, however the parallel to the ceremonies of English fairies is apparent in its similarity to human celebrations which are carried out by the fairies on a grander, more elaborate scale.'
[9] Vespasian was Roman Emperor from October 69 to June 79. Shortly before he died, Vespasian is reported to have said Vae, puto deus fio, 'Alas, I believe I am becoming a god.'
[10] Halley: 'Rule given to hero concerning travel in Faerie. Simple, as in other stories with imposed rules, but is inevitably broken.'
[11] This is probably garum, a seasoned paste made predominately from fish intestine, which was the staple condiment of the Roman world.
[12] Pliny the Elder, uncle and adoptive father to Pliny the Younger, offers a brief anecdote in his Natural History in which Lepidus (who, with Octavian and Mark Antony, was a member of the second triumvirate in the latter 40s and early 30s BC), while visiting the house of a magistrate, complained that he was unable to sleep because of the chirping of the birds. Thereupon, an enormous dragon was painted upon several sheets of parchment which so frightened the birds that they fell silent.
[13] Halley: 'Adventure in three parts with significant event in the last-extremely common motif. Three stages here represent progression away from human (Roman) civilization:
1. City of the Gods: fairy rendition of Roman city life
2. Mythological painting: sojourn through major stories of Roman culture
3. Orchard: accoutrements of civilization absent. Manufactured foods explicitly not available: bread (in which grain must be milled, combined with other ingredients, allowed to rise, and baked), cheese (for which whey must be separated out, curds repeatedly drained and pressed) and relish (product manufactured from several ingredients); raw foods (fruit, olives, milk) are still available.
Third stage lasts longest time; fairy does not insist upon boy's return, as previously.'
[14] Again, Pliny would have named the year by its consuls rather than a number.
[15] Halley: 'Exact consequence of broken rule is unclear. Fairy's warning implies that boy might become somehow lodged in the wall but story's conclusion suggests that boy entirely vanished. Regardless, story source perhaps questionable; possibly (as some modern cases attest) originates from someone under some form of fairy curse.'

DISCLAIMER: Read below, whether authentic or not, it is interesting
On Ancient Fairies
from a Latin Text translated by
Edward Halley
Annotated by Lacy Neuland
The Famulus, reestablished 1817, volume viii, issue iv
The body of text presented here is Halley's translation of a letter by Pliny the Younger (61-112) to Licinius Sura (d.~108), from whom Pliny appears to have been accustomed to seek explanations of curious, indeed supernatural, matters. The text is otherwise unknown in any of the published volumes of Pliny's letters which survive, and Halley's papers contain only this clean copy of the translation, written in his hand. It is possible that Halley was aware that the document existed in the possession of some private collector and obtained access to it under the condition that Halley take away with him only the English translation he made and none of the Latin text itself. Halley's translation is certainly not a literal one, although there is no reason to assume that it greatly distorts the story Pliny relates in the letter. In addition to the letter itself, however, Halley's papers contain several pages of notes which he wrote with the intent of eventually composing an essay concerning fairies in Antiquity; Halley was evidently still in the process of gathering material for this essay at the time of his death. Halley's principle argument, at least with regard to this document, concerned the similarities between this account from Ancient Rome and fairies and fairy stories of recent centuries. He also, however, made note of the apparent strangeness-or distinctly non-human qualities-of fairies as recognized in the story.
My annotations fall into two major categories. Those of one incorporate Halley's preliminary notes for the planned essay, so that the reader may apprehend Halley's argument in as near to his own words as is possible. The second set of notes clarifies some terms in the translated letter whose full implications may be unfamiliar to those readers whose acquaintance with Latin may be scant to nonexistent; however, without the original Latin text I can only offer commentary with any surety upon a mere handful of phrases. Together, these annotations have, I hope, embraced Jonathan Strange's wish that magic be made more accessible to the general public.
Lacy R Neuland

Addendum/LIA:Just an aside, nymphae (oreads, dryads, naiads, nereids etc), fata, penates and demi-gods have been ascribed as "Roman Fairies or Fae") The word Fae comes from the Latin Fata.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mask Creation Workshop; Spiritual, Ancestral, Personal Exploration

Quam copiosae enim suavitatis illa recordation est: in eodem domicilio antequam nascerer habitavi, in isdem incunabulis infantiae tempora peregi, esodem appellavi parentes, eadem pro me vota excubuerunt, parem ex maiorum imaginibus glorian traxi!
With how much abundance of pleasure that memory is filled: I lived in the same house before I was born, I spent my infancy in the same cradle, I called the same people my parents, they made the same vows for me, I inherited the same glory from the masks of the ancestors!
~ Valerius Maximus 5.5 140B.C.E

Linda et Jamie
Angie, Burnell, Nick and Tiger

Burnell and his Mask

Angie's Mask
Nick's Mask

An excellent, and fun, workshop. What was to be a four hour tour stretched to six hours from 6pm to Midnight. Those attending learned how to make a mold to support the clay sculpture during the curing and also how to condition the clay, which was an unexpected lesson in "waiting is" for the new artists! Finally they began on the actual sculpture of the mask which took self discipline and concentration served on a bed of creativity and inspiration. They also came away with a greater appreciation of artists and their craft: as Jamie said "I had no idea what was involved, I thought we would put the clay on a mold and than ...decorate." Once the masks had the features sculpted than they decorated them with items that could be cured (other items will be added later  at their private domus.)
By the time the masks were cured it was midnight so they were lovingly packed up with their owners and we bid each other farewell until next time!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Amazing, Colossal Temple on Rome's Quirinal Hill

The Amazing, Colossal Temple on Rome's Quirinal Hill

Archeology is one of my main interests, in the past I have been perfectly content to while away the hours kicking around an ancient site and have developed an eye for artifacts – a skill which is now becoming useful here on American soil – although European and Eastern archeology is my main area of interest. Last night’s (26Jan10) symposium at the Parthenon Temple, Nashville, Tn, was a sheer delight for me as Prof. Susann S. Lusnia took her audience through the puzzle that brought her to the conclusion that the Colossal Temple on Quirinal Hill was erected by Septimius Severus and that this East – West  placed Temple was the Temple of Bacchus and Hercules with 72‘ high columns Hill when others were no more then 50’ and grand double stairways leading up the.
To further give credence to her work Severus was from Libya, North Africa, and his patron Gods were Bacchus and Hercules which she substantiated with photos of coins of Severus’ period and Cassius Dio’s statement in his Roman History regarding Severus’ in Liber LXXVII, 16:5:  
“He also spent a great deal uselessly in repairing other buildings and in constructing new ones; for instance, he built a temple of huge size to Bacchus and Hercules.”
On a quick side note it is well known to Historians and Archeologists that  Dio’s Roman Histories have been heavily edited in the 200s C.E. and this is why it is known as the “reader’s digest” of Roman History so more may have been written about the Colossal Temple[i].

Unfortunately the ruins of the Colossal Temple were demolished by Pope Pius V in the 16th Century to make room for expansion, however a corner of the pediment and a 100 ton block of marble do survive – again, unfortunately it is on the private Colonna estate, the Pallazo Colonna which boast being built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum so they will have to alter their 20 generation history a bit and change their website if Prof. Lusnia’s findings are accepted by her colleagues. After finally convincing contacts for the Colonna family of the validity of her scholarship she is currently awaiting permission from the very private family to view these structures to get a closer look rather than having to study them by photographs. Still this brings us to another most impressive piece of evidence located on the two rare pieces of marble ruins that have somehow survived – an image of what is thought to be Bacchus that resembles the “green man” is on the pediment and that distinct image is *only* found on structures erected by Severus in Rome.

Rather than simply an academic lecture based on information that could be found in a good batch of textbooks this lecture presented the audience with the latest findings based on archeological and historical scholarship putting to the test Renaissance architects such as the famous and magnificent Palladio (1508 – 1580) who stated this was the location of the Temple of Serapis[ii] and at times would embellish his wonderful drawings according to how he thought that things should look rather than how they actually were. This occurred in the past mainly because they could get away with it, and also, more honestly, because based on the history as they knew it and without modern tools this was “educated opinion” of the time.
Take for example Palladio’s drawing of the Temple of Minerva in Assisi in which the columns are narrower at the bottom (it is in jstor but I do not have access) in which François Boucher (1703 -1770) refers to Palladio’s rendering as an example of “creative rearranging[iii].”
When comparing the Temple of Minerva to Palladio’s drawing Goethe (1749 – 1832) stated:
“…how little accepted tradition is to be trusted. Palladio on whom I relied implicitly, made a sketch of this temple, but he cannot have seen it personally for he puts real pedestals on the ground which gives the columns a disproportionate height and make the whole a Palmyra monstrosity instead of the great loveliness of the real thing[iv].”

Here are photos of the actual Temple of Minerva in Assisi that dismiss that part of his drawing:

These findings are not yet published yet – but will be soon in “Archaeology” and “The American Journal of Archeology”, so last night I was fortunate to have a preview.
According to Prof. Lusnia, who spent 8 years in Rome, the Colossal Temple was erroneously labeled a Temple of Giove and the Templum Solis Aureliani. It was also referred to as the Place of Maecenas and also the Frontispicium Neronis in the Renaissance mainly due to a Medieval Tower addition found on a drawing from the Medieval era and was romantically thought to be the tower where Nero stood to watch Rome burn. In Medieval Rome there were many such towers, mostly for safety sake so that people could safely spy on the city and surrounding countryside. It was also thought to be a Temple of Serapis wrongly attributed to Caracalla.
Prof. Lusnia’s evidence negates the more recent 2004 article in AJA by Rabun Taylor “Hadrian's Serapeum in Rome [v]in which he believes the origins of the Colossal Temple is a Temple of Serapis, ascribed to Hadrian and Antoninus Pius instead of Severus. This is largely based on one block used for the flooring in a later structure which, when turned over, was found to have a vague hidden inscription referring to Serapis – the problem with this is that it was common to recycle materials from buildings within the region and also the block was much too small to have been used in the Colossal Temple.
This is really new scholarship and like most scholarship that challenges older ideas it will be interesting to watch how it unfolds.
Prof. Lusnia took those attending on a fascinating journey of ancient Rome through archeology, and also art, complete with images that I do not have so to learn all that was included in the symposium we must wait until her article comes out in the aforementioned journals.

Here is Prof. Lusnia’s article on the  “Septizonium erected by Septimius Severus” which was also covered as part of the evidence regarding the Colossal Temple:

More info regarding Prof. Susann Lusnia:


[ii] “The Four Books on Architecture” by Andrea Palladio 1570 The MIT Press Edition: September 9, 2002 ISBN-10: 0262661330

[iii] “Learning from Palladio” by Branko Mitrović W.W. Norton & Co.; illustrated edition edition May 2004 p.136 ISBN-10: 0393731162

[iv] “Representation of Places: Reality and Realism in City Design” By Peter Bosselmann University of California Press; 1 edition April 20, 1998 p.160 ISBN-10: 0520206584

[v] Rabun Taylor “Hadrian's Serapeum in Rome” American journal of archaeology   ISSN 0002-9114 2004

Minerva: the Goddess of a Thousand Works

Minerva: the Goddess of a Thousand Works (Ovidus Fasti III)

“O Minerva, You have always come to my aid with Your counsels, witness to the existence of my works”
Cicero De Domo sua ad Pontifices 144

Minerva is wisdom, She is a goddess of many attributes, She is the guardian of life, preserving the intellectual and spiritual principle through Her protective power and under the providence of divine intelligence.

We have come to know Minerva as having shared characteristics with the Greek Athena, including Her parentage. Minerva’s father was thought to be Pallas the Giant (although Pallas could be a variety of mentors or figures) or the daughter of Metis and Iuppiter (Tinia) springing from His head, reminiscent of Athena; tales of how She came to be are many and varied.[1]
Some scholars believe She, Menrva, came from Falerii, now known as Civita Castellana, then a small hamlet on the right side of the Tiber. There She was worshipped as the protectress of handicraft and also of the working man, a very important aspect to the Ancient Roman people. The Etruscans brought this Goddess to Rome as part of the Capitoline Triad of Iuppiter, Iuno and Minerva.
Under the reign of the last King of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, a Temple was constructed to rever them on Capitoline Hill; Aedes Iovis Optimi Maximi Capitolini. There were three separate chambers for these most important Deities: Iuno Regina on the Left, Iuppiter in the center and Minerva on the right. This was the second Capitoline Triad, the first predated the Roman Republic and came to be known as the Archaic Triad of Iuppiter, Mars and Quirinus. Tuscan craftsmen built the magnificent Etruscan Temple of Minerva and to honor them the area where they lived, at the foot of the Capitoline, was named for them in perpetuity; the Vicus Tuscus.[2] [3]

Minerva is not just a symbol of divine intellect but She gifts humans who seek Her guidance and induces meditations of intellectual illumination; wisdom.
“Come now, golden haired Minerva, to favor the task I've begun”
Ovidus Fasti 6.652

She is a God of the people, revered by patricians and plebians alike, Her sense of fairness and equity endears Her to those who talents, rather than birth, set them apart from others.
Minerva’s Temple on the Aventine in the 3rd century was host to the collegium of scribae and histriones who were dramatic authors and actors and where their archives were held. As a result of this an entire community of poets, including Ennius, took up residency on the Aventine, the traditional home of the plebs, close to Her Temple.[4] In Mid March plebian festivals were celebrated at the sanctuary of Minerva. These were guild festivals held during the Quinquatrus (March 19-26) to celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of Her Temple on the Aventine and included all the arts and trades sacred to Minerva: sculptors, painters, physician, teachers, weavers, fullers, dyers and cobblers.[5] The Temple of Minerva Medica on the Esquiline also was very much of the celebration with four days of sacrifices and competitions, mostly gladiatorial. Outstanding teachers were rewarded with the title “minerval” which is still continued today in various societies.[6] [7]

"After a one day interval, the rites of Minerva are performed, which take their name from the sequence of five days. The first day is bloodless, and sword fights are unlawful, because Minerva was born on that very day. The next four are celebrated with gladiatorial shows, the warlike goddess delights in naked swords. Pray now you boys and tender girls to Pallas: he who can truly please Pallas, is learned. Pleasing Pallas let girls learn to card wool, and how to unwind the full distaff. She shows how to draw the shuttle through the firm Warp, and close up loose threads with the comb. Worship her, you who remove stains from damaged clothes, Worship her, you who ready bronze cauldrons for fleeces. If Pallas frowns, no one could make good shoes, Even if he were more skilled than Tychius: and even if he were cleverer with his hands Than Epeus once was, he'll be useless if Pallas is angry. You too who drive away ills with Apollo's art, bring a few gifts of your own for the goddess: and don't scorn her, you schoolmasters, a tribe so often cheated of its pay: she attracts new pupils: nor you engravers, and painters with encaustics, nor you who carve the stone with a skilful hand. She's the goddess of a thousand things: and song for sure: If I'm worthy may she be a friend to my endeavors. Where the Caelian Hill slopes down to the plain, at the point where the street's almost, but not quite, level, you can see the little shrine of Minerva Capta, which the Goddess first occupied on Her birthday. The source of the name is doubtful: we speak of `Capital' ingenuity: the goddess is herself ingenious. Or is it because, motherless, she leapt, with a shield from the crown of her father's head (caput)? Or because she came to us as a `captive' from the conquest Of Falerii? This, an ancient inscription claims. Or because her law ordains `capital' punishment for receiving things stolen from that place? By whatever logic your title's derived, Pallas, Shield our leaders with your aegis forever."
Ovidus, Fasti III; 809-848

In the Eleusinian mysteries it is Minerva herself who preserves the very heart of Bacchus protecting the freedoms He represents and also His mysteries which gifts his cultores with possession and empowerment directly by the God’s divine self. Although this article is about Minerva I mention Bacchus and the mysteries (incl. Orphic) because She is inextricably tied to Bacchus as His birth, the rising sun, is the rising of intellectual light and its manifestations and therefore under her dominion.  Her connection with Bacchus is thusly immortalized in the following poem:

“To Minerva” by Proclus (3rd Century C.E.)

“Daughter of ægis-bearing Jove, divine,
Propitious to thy votaries’ prayer incline;
From thy great father’s fount supremely bright,
Like fire resounding, leaping into light.
Shield-bearing goddess, hear, to whom belong
A manly mind, and power to tame the strong!
Oh, sprung from matchless might, with joyful mind
Accept this hymn; benevolent and kind!
The holy gates of wisdom, by thy hand
Are wide unfolded; and the daring band
Of earth-born giants, that in impious fight
Strove with thy fire, were vanquished by thy might.
Once by thy care, as sacred poets sing,
The heart of Bacchus, swiftly-slaughtered king,
Was sav’d in Æther, when, with fury fired,
The Titans fell against his life conspired;
And with relentless rage and thirst for gore,
Their hands his members into fragments tore:
But ever watchful of thy father’s will,
Thy power preserv’d him from succeeding ill,
Till from the secret counsels of his fire,
And born from Semelé through heavenly sire,
Great Dionysus to the world at length
Again appeared with renovated strength.
Once, too, thy warlike ax, with matchless sway,
Lopped from their savage necks the heads away
Of furious beasts, and thus the pests destroyed
Which long all-seeing Hecaté annoyed.
By thee benevolent great Juno’s might
Was roused, to furnish mortals with delight.
And thro’ life’s wide and various range, ’t is thine
Each part to beautify with art divine:
Invigorated hence by thee, we find
A demiurgic impulse in the mind.
Towers proudly raised, and for protection strong,
To thee, dread guardian deity, belong,
As proper symbols of th’ exalted height
Thy series claims amidst the courts of light.
Lands are beloved by thee, to learning prone,
And Athens, Oh Athena, is thy own!
Great goddess, hear! and on my dark’ned mind
Pour thy pure light in measure unconfined;—
That sacred light, Oh all-protecting queen,
Which beams eternal from thy face serene.
My soul, while wand’ring on the earth, inspire
With thy own blessed and impulsive fire:
And from thy fables, mystic and divine,
Give all her powers with holy light to shine.
Give love, give wisdom, and a power to love,
Incessant tending to the realms above;
Such as unconscious of base earth’s control
Gently attracts the vice-subduing soul:
From night’s dark region aids her to retire,
And once more gain the palace of her sire.
O all-propitious to my prayer incline!
Nor let those horrid punishments be mine
Which guilty souls in Tartarus confine,
With fetters fast’ned to its brazen floors,
And lock’d by hell’s tremendous iron doors.
Hear me, and save (for power is all thine own)
A soul desirous to be thine alone.”

We see the connection of Bacchus and Minerva again in the celebration of the elderly Goddess, Anna Perenna on March 15th.  Mars became enamored of the virgin Minerva’s beauty and asked Anna Perenna to intercede on his behalf, like most ancient tales it took an unexpected turn. Anna Perenna disguised Herself as Minerva on the wedding day but Mars found out just in time and the wedding never happened.[8] Anna Perenna is a Goddess of “the turning of the years” or circle of life and also as a fertility procuring entity. Because of these attributes the festival of the fertility god Liber Pater, later equated with Bacchus, included a remembrance of Anna Perenna as elderly women donning ivy crowns offered sacrifice to the fertility god and through these venerable women the requests of their younger counterparts for children was channeled.[9] [10] [11]
In the context of the Orphic mysteries Minerva reveals the rhythmical dance of the celestial bodies[12] and while she remains with Iuppiter she is wisdom but when she is in the company of the Dii Consentes she also reveals the power of Virtue.[13]

The fiery Minerva as a Novensides is known to hurl thunderbolts,[14] to be a Goddess of Victory,[15] Patron Goddess of Domitian as Minerva Chaldica forever immortalized on his coinage,[16] and interpreted by the stoics to be a moon element. [17]The anniversary of Mens (Intelligence) on June 8 finds, at the end of a long day and night of celebration, flute players drunk, in masks and other disguises arrive at the Temple of Minerva in reverence to the Goddess who invented their flutes and their music.[18] [19] She is worshipped at Luceria in Apulia as Minerva Achaea, where cultores leave votive gifts.  Preserved at this Temple were arms purported to be those of Diomedes himself.[20] Sacred to Her are the Owl and Olive.

In Rome she is also known as the Goddess of Warriors, of strategic defense in War, depicted wearing armor, a helmet and carrying a spear.

“Proud, warlike Goddess, great honor and wisdom of Your Father, powerful in war are You, on whom the grim helmet is borne with its frightful decoration, speckled with the Gorgon's blood that glows more violent with increasing rage, never has Mavors or Bellona with Her battle spear inspired more ardent calls to arms on the war trumpets than You. May You with Your nod accept this sacrificial offering. Whether You come from Mount Pandion to our rites by night, or from dancing happily in Ainian Itone, or from washing once more Your hair in the waters of Libyan Triton, or whether the winged axle of your war chariot, with its paired pure-bred horses carries you astride its beam, shouting aloud, now, to You, we dedicate the shattered spoils of virile men and their battered armour. Should I return to my Parthaonian fields, and upon being sighted Martian Pleuron should throw open wide her gates for me, then amid her hills, at the center of the city, I shall dedicate to you a golden temple where it may be your pleasure to look upon Ionian storms, and where Achelous tosses about his flaxen hair to disturb the sea where it leaves behind the breakers of Echinades. In here will I display accounts of ancestral wars and the death-masks of great hearted kings, and affix the arms of the proud in the rotunda that I have returned with myself, taken at the cost of my own blood, and those, Tritonia, that you will grant when Thebes is captured. There a hundred Calydonian virgins will serve in devotions at your altar, shall duly twine the Actaean torches, and weave from Your chaste olive tree purple sacrificial fillets with snow white strands of wool. At nightly vigils an aged priestess will tend your altar's fire, and never will she neglect to safeguard your modesty, attending in secret to the rites of your boudoir. To you in war, to you in peace, the first fruits of our labors shall be borne, without offence to Diana.”
Statius Thebaid 2.715-42

There is no way in this brief treatise can I  cover the scope of this Great Goddesses attributes, tales of Her accomplishments and experiences and countless songs and poetry in her honor but I implore anyone to go in search of these many jewels for a rewarding experience.
I shall end with a very important aspect of Minerva with a piece of history and a finally a touching poem.

Inscribed plaques dedicated to Minerva the Mindful fashioned by a Roman Matron, Tullia Superiana commemorating the sacrifice of a white cow made in fulfillment of a vow by a slave for the recovery of his sight and a votive display of gratitude for restoring her hair:

“Felix Asianus, public slave of the pontiffs, gladly and sincerely discharged his vow of a white heifer to rustic Bona Dea Felicula (Good Goddess Felicula) for the restoration of his eyesight. He had been given up by the doctors, but after ten months he was cured by the favor of the Mistress and her remedies.” (CIL 6.68)[21]

“In payment of her vow Tullia Superiana dedicates this plaque willingly and deservedly to Minerva the Mindful for having restored her hair.”[22]

“In Vita Minerva”
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Vex not the Muse with idle prayers,--
She will not hear thy call;
She steals upon thee unawares,
Or seeks thee not at all.

Soft as the moonbeams when they sought
Endymion's fragrant bower,
She parts the whispering leaves of thought
To show her full-blown flower.

For thee her wooing hour has passed,
The singing birds have flown,
And winter comes with icy blast
To chill thy buds unblown.

Yet, though the woods no longer thrill
As once their arches rung,
Sweet echoes hover round thee still
Of songs thy summer sung.

Live in thy past; await no more
The rush of heaven-sent wings;
Earth still has music left in store
While Memory sighs and sings.

©Aquila 04March2011

2.         2 Fishwick, Duncan (1987). "Seneca and the Temple of Divus Claudius" (pp. 253–254). Britannia 22 (pp. 137–141).
3.        3  Carter, Jess Benedict (1911) The Religious Life of Ancient Rome” (pp. 25-26).
4.          4. Florence Dupont, “Daily Life in Ancient Rome”  (p. 154)
5.         5 Ibid. (p. 200)
6.         6 Turcan, R. (1998) “The Gods of Ancient Rome (p.67)
7.         7 Ovidus, Fasti III; 814
9.        9  Ibid. 713-808
10.     10  Takacs, Sarolta A. (2008) “Vestal Virgins, Sybils, and Matrons” (p. 42)
11.     11.  Bruhl, A.(1953) “Liber Pater” (PP. 13-29)
12.     12.  Proclus, Crat., p. 118
13.     13.  Ibid, Tim., i.52
14.      14. Dumezil, Georges (1996) Archaic Roman Religion” Vol II (p. 643) Servius II, Aen, 1:42
15.     15  Ibid (p. 674)
16.     16  Ibid (p. 688)
17.     17  Girard, J. (1981) “Domitien et Minerve : une predilection imperiale” (pp. 233-245)
18.      18 Turcan, R. (1998) “The Gods of Ancient Rome” (p.74)
19.     19  Ovidus, Fasti VI; 696
20.      20 Aristotle Mirab. Narrat. 117
21.      21 Warrior, Valerie M. (2006) “Roman Religion” (p. 26)
22.      22 Warrior, Valerie M. (2006) “Roman Religion, A Sourcebook” (p. 9)

Invita Minerva

Not of desire alone is music born,
Not till the Muse wills is our passion crowned;
Unsought she comes; if sought, but seldom found,
Repaying thus our longing with her scorn.
Hence is it poets often are forlorn,
In super-subtle chains of silence bound,
And mid the crowds that compass them around
Still dwell in isolation night and morn,
With knitted brow and cheek all passion-pale
Showing the baffled purpose of the mind.
Hence is it I, that find no prayers avail
To move my Lyric mistress to be kind,
Have stolen away into this leafy dale
Drawn by the flutings of the silvery wind.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich