Minerva In Roman mythology, ancient Italian goddess of wisdom and the arts and sciences; the Romans equated Minerva with the Greek goddess Athena. Minerva had a temple on the Capitoline Hill, her chief seat of worship, along with Jupiter and Juno. Her main festival in Rome, the Quinquatria or Quinquatrus (fifth day), began on 18 or 19 March and lasted five days. Sacrifices and oblations were made on the first day, but no blood was shed. On the second, third, and fourth days, gladiators performed, and on the fifth day there was a solemn procession through the streets of the city. During the festival scholars were on holiday and prayed to the goddess for wisdom. Most of the Greek myths attached to Athena were adopted by the Romans for Minerva. Minerva appears in Mantegna’s painting Triumph of Wisdom over Vice, where she is seen routing the sex goddess Venus. Minerva also appears in Perugino’s painting Combat of Love and Chastity, in which she aids Diana, goddess of virgins. In English poetry she appears in Lord Byron’s “The Curse of Minerva,” in which he attacks Lord Elgin for removing the famous marbles from the Parthenon to the British Museum. The goddess also appears in Poe’s poem “The Raven,” in which a bird of ill omen perches on a bust of Pallas, another name for Minerva.
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The Romans received Minerva from the Etruscans, who may or may not have received her from the Italian tribes. Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy. The origin of her name is unclear, but it is believed to be related to mental. She has dominion over the intellect, mental processes, and activities.
The Romans identified Minerva with Greek Athena. She is now so subsumed by Athena that it is difficult to disentwine the two goddesses, although they were originally distinct. The rites of Brigid in Kildare are described as resembling those of Minerva.
In her guise as Minerva Medica, Minerva presides over the medical profession and healing arts.
• In 1899, Guatemalan President Manuel Es trada Cabrera (1857–1924) initiated and tried to promote Feasts of Minerva, which involved honoring teachers and students.
• The most famous modern Minerva may be Harry Potter’s Minerva McGonagle.
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Artisans, artists, crafts people, teachers, philosophers, musicians, writers, poets
Images of Athena are generally used to portray Minerva. The Queen of Spades playing card traditionally represents Minerva.
She was worshipped with Juno and Jupiter as part of the Capitoline Triad.
• 19 March-23 March, Festival of Artisans; Minerva is honoured by artisans, artists, and teachers.
• The full moon in June; flautists honour Minerva.
• She was venerated alongside Juno and Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill.
• Her temple sanctuary on the Aventine Hill was a centre for the arts.
• Rome’s Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva was built over Minerva’s temple.
- Roman Mythology
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