Minerva (/mɪˈnɜːr.və/; Latin: [mɪˈnɛr.wa]; Etruscan:
Menrva) was the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare,
although it is noted that the Romans did not stress her relation to
battle and warfare as the Greeks would come to, and the sponsor of
arts, trade, and strategy. From the second century BC onward, the
Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena.
Following the Greek myths around Athena, she was born of Metis, who
had been swallowed by Jupiter, and burst from her father's head, fully
armed and clad in armor. After impregnating the titaness Metis
notably forcefully which resulted in her attempting to change shape or
shapeshift to escape him,
Jupiter recalled the prophecy that his own
child would overthrow him as he had Saturn and in turn, Saturn had
Fearing that their child would be male, and would grow stronger than
he was and rule the Heavens in his place,
Jupiter swallowed Metis
whole after tricking her into turning herself into a fly. The titaness
gave birth to
Minerva and forged weapons and armor for her child while
within Jupiter's body nevertheless. It is said in some versions that
Metis continued to live inside of Jupiter's mind and that she is the
source of his wisdom though others say she was simply a vessel for the
birth of Minerva. Nevertheless, the constant pounding and ringing left
Jupiter with agonizing pain and to relieve the pain, Vulcan used a
hammer to split Jupiter's head and, from the cleft,
whole, adult, and in full battle armor.
She was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom,
commerce, weaving, and the crafts. She is often depicted with her
sacred creature, an owl usually named as the "owl of Minerva",
which symbolised her association with wisdom and knowledge as well as,
less frequently, the snake and the olive tree.
1 Worship in Rome and Italy
1.1 Roman coinage
2 Etruscan Menrva
3 Universities and educational establishments
4 Use by societies and governments
5 Public monuments, places, and modern culture
6 See also
7 References and sources
8 External links
Worship in Rome and Italy
Raised-relief image of
Minerva on a Roman gilt silver bowl, first
Minerva in Sbeitla, Tunisia
A head of "Sulis-Minerva" found in the ruins of the Roman baths in
Silver denarius of the Roman Emperor Domitianus (Domitian) featuring
Minerva, dated c. 90 AD, IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIIII,
laureate head right; IMP XXI COS XV CENS P P P,
Minerva standing left,
holding spear and thunderbolt, shield resting against back of leg;
References: BMC 167, RIC 691, RSC 260, Paris 159, Cohen 260
Minerva was worshipped at several locations in Rome, including most
prominently as part of the Capitoline Triad, and also at the 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 of Santa
Maria sopra Minerva.
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
and make votive offerings at the temple of
Minerva on the Aventine
Hill. Among others, its members included Livius Andronicus. The
Aventine sanctuary of
Minerva continued to be an important center of
the arts for much of the middle Roman Republic.
Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and physicians. As
Minerva Achaea, she was worshipped at
Apulia where votive
gifts and arms said to be those of
Diomedes were preserved in her
Her worship also was spread throughout the empire. In Britain, for
example, she was syncretized with the local goddess Sulis, who often
was invoked for restitution for theft.
In Fasti III,
Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works".
Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, and when she eventually
became equated with the Greek goddess Athena, she also became a
goddess of battle. Unlike Mars, god of war, she was sometimes
portrayed with sword lowered, in sympathy for the recent dead, rather
than raised in triumph and battle lust. In Rome her bellicose nature
was emphasized less than elsewhere.
Minerva is featured on the coinage of different Roman Emperors. She
often is represented on the reverse side of a coin holding an owl and
a spear among her attributes.
Main article: Menrva
Stemming from an Italic moon goddess *Meneswā ('She who measures'),
the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, *Menerwā, thereby
calling her Menrva. It is presumed that her Roman name, Minerva, is
based on this Etruscan mythology.
Minerva was the goddess of wisdom,
war, art, schools, and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to
Greek Athena. Like Athena,
Minerva burst from the head of her father,
Jupiter (Greek Zeus), who had devoured her mother (Metis) in an
unsuccessful attempt to prevent her birth.
By a process of folk etymology, the Romans could have linked her
foreign name to the root men- in Latin words such as mens meaning
"mind", perhaps because one of her aspects as goddess pertained to the
intellectual. The word mens is built from the Proto-Indo-European root
*men- 'mind' (linked with memory as in Greek
Mnemosyne/μνημοσύνη and mnestis/μνῆστις: memory,
remembrance, recollection, manush in Sanskrit meaning mind).
Menrva was part of a holy triad with
Tinia and Uni,
equivalent to the Roman
Capitoline Triad of Jupiter-Juno-Minerva.
Universities and educational establishments
Minerva in the emblems of educational establishments
As a patron goddess of wisdom,
Minerva frequently features in
statuary, as an image on seals, and in other forms at educational
Use by societies and governments
Minerva and owl (right) depicted on Confederate currency (1861)
Seal of California
Seal of California depicts the
Goddess Minerva. Her birth
fully-grown parallels California becoming a state without first being
In the early twentieth century, Manuel José Estrada Cabrera,
President of Guatemala, tried to promote a "Worship of Minerva" in his
country; this left little legacy other than a few interesting Hellenic
style "Temples" in parks around Guatemala.
According to John Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy (1798), the third
degree of the Bavarian
Illuminati was called Minerval or Brother of
Minerva, in honour of the goddess of learning. Later, this title was
adopted for the first initiation of Aleister Crowley's OTO rituals.
Minerva is displayed on the Medal of Honor, the highest military
decoration awarded by the United States government.
Minerva is featured in the logo of the Max Planck Society.
Minerva alongside Mars is displayed on the cap badge of the Artists
Rifles Territorial SAS Regiment of the British Army.
Kingston upon Hull's oldest
Masonic lodge is named The
Minerva is the patron goddess of the
Theta Delta Chi and Sigma Alpha
Epsilon fraternities, the
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and the Kappa
Kappa Gamma and Delta Sigma Theta[additional citation(s) needed]
Minerva is the oldest student society in the Netherlands and
strongly related to Leiden University.
Minerva Schools at KGI
Minerva Schools at KGI is an innovative global four-year undergraduate
program that took their name from Minerva.
Public monuments, places, and modern culture
This article appears to contain trivial, minor, or unrelated
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A statue of
Minerva is displayed by the University of North Carolina
at Greensboro and is the university's new graphic identity starting
A small Roman shrine to
Minerva stands in Handbridge, Chester. It sits
in a public park, overlooking the River Dee.
A statue to
Minerva was designed by
John Charles Felix Rossi
John Charles Felix Rossi to adorn
the Town Hall of Liverpool, where it has stood since 1799. It remains
extant and was restored as part of the 2014 renovations conducted by
Minerva Roundabout in Guadalajara, Mexico, located at the crossing
of the López Mateos, Vallarta, López Cotilla, Agustín Yáñez, and
Golfo de Cortez avenues, features the goddess standing on a pedestal,
surrounded by a large fountain, with an inscription that says
"Justice, wisdom and strength guard this loyal city".
A bronze statue of
Minerva stands in Monument Square (Portland,
Maine). "Our Lady of Victories Monument" dedicated in 1891, features a
14-feet-tall bronze figure by
Franklin Simmons atop a granite pedestal
with smaller bronze sculptures by Richard Morris Hunt.
A sculpture of
Minerva by Andy Scott, known as the Briggate Minerva,
stands outside Trinity Leeds shopping centre.
Minerva is displayed as a statue in Pavia, Italy, near the train
station, and is considered as an important landmark in the city.
Minerva is displayed as a cast bronze statue in the Minneapolis
Central Library, rendered in 1889 by Jakob Fjelde.
Minerva is displayed as a 7-ft statue in the Science Library at the
State University of New York at Albany and is on the official academic
seal of the University.
Minerva is displayed as a bronze statue in Frederick Ruckstull's 1920
Altar to Liberty:
Minerva monument near the top of Battle Hill, the
highest point of Brooklyn, New York, in Green-Wood Cemetery.
Minerva is displayed as an 11-ft statue in Antonin Carlès's 1895
"James Gordon Bennett Memorial" in New York City's Herald Square.
A statue of
Minerva is displayed at
Wells College outside of Main
Building. Each year, the senior class decorates
Minerva at the
beginning of the fall semester.
Minerva remains decorated throughout
the school year; then during the morning of the last day of classes
and after singing around the Sycamore tree, the senior class takes
turns kissing the feet of Minerva, believed to be good luck and bring
success and prosperity to all graduation seniors.
Second French Empire
References and sources
^ Larousse Desk Reference Encyclopedia, Book People, Haydock, 1995, p.
^ Encarta World English Dictionary 1998–2004 Microsoft Corporation.
^ Candau, Francisco J. Cevallos (1994). Coded Encounters: Writing,
Gender, and Ethnicity in Colonial Latin America. University of
Massachusetts Press. p. 215. ISBN 0-87023-886-8.
Philosophy of Right
Philosophy of Right (1820), "Preface"
^ Aristotle Mirab. Narrat. 117
^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Achaea (2)". In Smith, William.
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston.
^ R. S. O. Tomlin (1992). "Voices from the Sacred Spring" (PDF). Bath
History. 4: 8, 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on
^ Mark Cartwright. "Minerva". Ancient History Encyclopedia.
^ "American Numismatic Society: Browse Collection". Retrieved
^ "California State Symbols". California State Library.
^ "List of Registered Trademarks and Service Marks" (PDF).
^ Cavanagh, Terry (1997). Public sculpture of Liverpool. Liverpool
University Press. pp. 70–1.
^ Elson, Peter (2014-10-14). "
Liverpool Town Hall's
restored to heavenly condition".
^ "Our Lady of Victories (The Portland Sailors and Soldiers
Monument)". Public Art Portland. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
^ "Maine Civil War Monuments: Portland (Monument Square)". Maine.gov.
Archived from the original on 2015-05-24. Retrieved 28 January
^ "Minerva". Hennepin County Library.
^ "University at Albany - SUNY -". albany.edu.
^ "Herald Square Monuments - James Gordon Bennett Memorial : NYC
^ "minerva Search Results Wellsipedia". wellsipedia.wordpress.com.
^ Citizen, Erik Sorensen /
Special to The. "
Wells College to graduate
its first males this weekend". Auburn Citizen. Retrieved
^ York, Michelle (2005-09-06). "Wells College: Newly, and Uneasily,
Coed". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved
Origins of English History see Chapter Ten.
Romans in Britain – Roman religion and beliefs see The Roman gods.
Old Norse Myths, Literature and Society[permanent dead link]
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "article name
needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
See page 1090
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
The dictionary definition of
Minerva at Wiktionary
Media related to
Minerva at Wikimedia Commons
Ancient Roman religion and mythology
Castor and Pollux
Romulus and Remus
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
The Golden Ass
Concepts and practices
Religion in ancient Rome
Glossary of ancient Roman religion
Myth and ritual
Conversion to Christianity
Decline of Greco-Roman polytheism