Anna Perenna is in Roman mythology, an ancient Italian goddess believed to be associated with the revolving year. Every month she renewed her youth and was therefore regarded as a goddess who bestowed long life. On the Ides (15th) of March (then the first month of the year) the Romans held a feast in her honor at the first milestone on the Flaminian Way.
In Vergil’s Aeneid (book 2) Anna Perenna is identified as Dido’s sister. According to a later account, she fled to Aeneas in Italy after the death of her sister Dido. Lavinia, Aeneas’s wife, was jealous of her, however, and plotted her ruin. In despair Anna Perenna threw herself into the Numicius, becoming a nymph or goddess of the river. Ovid’s Fasti (3) tells of the goddess and her feast.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante
According to Virgil’s Aeneid, Dido, Queen of Carthage, killed herself after she was abandoned by Aeneas. According to another legend, after Dido’s death, Carthage was invaded and her sister, Anna, had to flee. She ended up in Latium (Italy) where Aeneas, her sister’s former lover, was ruler. He welcomed the refugee, offering hospitality in his home. His wife, Lavinia, was profoundly jealous.
Dido appeared to Anna in a dream, warning her to flee again. Wandering, Anna encountered a river deity who carried her off. (This could be a euphemism. Other versions suggest she entered the river of her own volition. One way or another, she ended up in the drink.) People searching for her followed Anna’s footprints to the river, where they ended. Anna emerged from the river, explaining that she was now a water goddess and that her new name was Perenna, meaning “eternity.”
Anna Perenna is the spirit of the year, bringing peace and prosperity in her wake. She offers the gift of longevity. She was particularly loved by Roman Plebeians, with whom she sided in opposition to Patricians.
In another version of her myth, she was always a water spirit and her name derives from Amnis Perennis, the eternal stream or the never-ending stream.
Days: The Ides of March: first full moon of the Roman year or 15 March
Feast: 15 March
Petition: Drinking games were held in Anna Perenna’s honor on her feast day. Allegedly she will bestow a year of life for every glass downed in her honor.
Place: She is the presiding spirit of the River Numicus, possible site of her deification. Anna Perenna had a grove of fruit trees where her feast day was celebrated with picnicking and pleasure.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.