ALSO KNOWN AS:
Etruscan or Italian
Feast: The Larentalia on 23 December
Various contradictory legends are told of Acca Larentia. Their common denominator is that she is an important benefactress of Rome. One story says she was a sex worker who amassed a fortune and bequeathed it all to Rome. Another suggests that she was the beautiful prize given to Heracles for winning a game of dice. She was locked in his temple. When the deity (or his priests) had enough of her, she was advised to marry the first rich man she met. She did, eventually inherited his estate, and bequeathed that to the Roman people. The most popular version of Acca Larentia’s myth is that she was the wife of Faustulus, the shepherd who found Romulus and Remus and thus the foster mother of the founders of Rome.
Acca Larentia is associated with the Lares, household guardian spirits.
Their festival is celebrated right after hers. She may or may not be the same spirit as Larunda. Acca Larentia is traditionally petitioned for abundance and prosperity.
Sex workers; financially independent women; urban gardeners
Gardens, especially vegetable or herb, within or near cities
Heracles; Lares; Larunda; Mania
Acca Larentia In Roman mythology, an ancient Italian earth goddess whose feast was celebrated on 23 December; mother of the Lares. Roman accounts vary. In some she is said to have been the nurse of Romulus and Remus; in others, the mistress of Heracles and the wife of a rich Etruscan called Tarutius. She was believed to have left great possessions either to Romulus or to the Roman people. Acca Larentia also is said to have had 12 sons, called the Arval Brothers, one of whom was sacrificed each year. She may be connected with Larunda, a Sabine goddess whose feast and sacrifices also were made on 23 December. Acca Larentia is also the name of a companion of Camilla in Vergil’s Aeneid.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante