Minerva (Etruscan: Menrfa, or Menrva) was the
Roman goddess whom Hellenizing Romans from the
second century BC onwards equated with the Greek
Athena. She was the virgin goddess of
magic, and the inventor of
music. She is often depicted with an owl, her
sacred creature and is, through this connection, a symbol of wisdom.
This article focuses on Minerva in ancient Rome and in
cultic practice. For information on Latin
literary mythological accounts of Minerva, which were heavily influenced by
Greek mythology, see
Pallas Athena, where she is one of three virgin
goddesses along with
Hestia, known by the Romans as
The name "Minerva" is imported from the
Etruscans who called her
Menrva. Extrapolating from her Roman nature, it
is assumed that in
Etruscan mythology, Minerva was the goddess of
wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to
Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the
head of her father, Jupiter (Greek
By a process of
folk etymology, the Romans could have confused
phones of her foreign name with those of the
root men- in
words such as mens meaning "mind", perhaps because one of her
aspects as goddess pertained to the intellectual. The word mens has the
Proto-Indo-European mn- stem, linked
with memory as in Greek
Mnemosyne (μνημοσύνη) and mnestis (μνῆστις:
memory, remembrance, recollection).
Menrva was part of a holy
Uni, equivalent to the Roman
Capitoline Triad of Jupiter-Juno-Minerva.
Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter.
As Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and doctors. As
Minerva Achaea, she was worshipped at
votive gifts and arms said to be those of
Diomedes were preserved in her temple.
Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works." Minerva was
worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did she take on the warlike
character shared by Athena. Her worship was also taken out to the empire — in
Britain, for example, she was conflated with the local wisdom goddess
The Romans celebrated her festival from March 19 to March 23 during the day
which is called, in the neuter plural,
Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March,
the nineteenth, an
artisans' holiday . A lesser version, the
Minusculae Quinquatria, was held on the Ides of June, June 13, by the
flute-players, who were particularly useful to
religion. In 207 BC, a
guild of poets and actors was formed to meet
votive offerings at the temple of Minerva on
Aventine hill. Among others, its members
Livius Andronicus. The Aventine sanctuary of
Minerva continued to be an important center of the arts for much of the middle
Minerva was worshipped on the
Capitoline Hill as one of the
Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno,
Temple of Minerva Medica, and at the "Delubrum
Minervae" a temple founded around 50 BC by
Pompey on the site now occupied by the church
Santa Maria sopra Minerva facing the
present-day Piazza della Minerva.
A.D. 139-161 under Antoninus Pius
Augustus: A.D. 161-180
A.D. 161-169 with Lucius Verus
A.D. 169-177 Sole Reign
A.D. 177-180 with Commodus
Adopted son of Antoninus Pius and heir of Hadrian
Husband of Faustina Junior
Father of Commodus, Annius Verus, Lucilla and Aurelius Antoninus
Son-in-law of Antoninus Pius and Faustina Senior
Father-in-law of Lucius Verus
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was
emperor from 161
his death in 180. He ruled with
Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Lucius' death in 169. He was the last of
Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important
philosophers. His tenure was marked by wars in
Asia against a revitalized
Parthian Empire, and with
Germanic tribes along the
Limes Germanicus into
Gaul and across the
Danube. A revolt in the East, led by
Avidius Cassius who previously fought alongside Lucius Verus against the
Marcus Aurelius' work
Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is
still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty.
Marcus Aurelius owes much of him becoming Augustus to Hadrian who
groomed him from childhood for the post. He became Caesar shortly after Hadrian
died and the political grooming continued under Antoninus Pius. He had to wait
another twenty years or so to become Augustus himself in the year 161. No sooner
did this happen than he was thrust in a series of wars that would eat up the
rest of his time in office. He died while fighting the ever-harassing tribes of
the Germanic region and power then passed to his son Commodus.
During his lengthy reign he is remembered as being among the noblest and most
even-keeled of emperors. He preferred to use the considerable power of his post
to pursue a period of enlightenment out of character not only for his age but
clear across time to our very own. Gibbon summarizes that he "was severe to
himself, indulgent to the imperfections of others, just and beneficent to all
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