Angerona
Goddess who relieves pain and sorrow, prevents angina, protects Rome and its sacred name
Statue of Angerona, one of the sculptures in the Schönbrunn Garden (1773–80); note the fingers on lips
Other namesAngeronia
Symbolsmouth bandaged and sealed, finger on lips
FestivalsDivalia

In Roman religion, Angerona or Angeronia was an old Roman goddess, whose name and functions are variously explained. She is sometimes identified with the goddess Feronia.[1]

Description

According to ancient authorities, she was a goddess who relieved men from pain and sorrow, or delivered the Romans and their flocks from angina (quinsy). Also she was a protecting goddess of Rome and the keeper of the sacred name of the city, which might not be pronounced lest it should be revealed to her enemies. It was even thought that Angerona itself was this name.[2][a][b]

Modern scholars regard Angerona as a goddess akin to Ops, Acca Larentia, and Dea Dia; or as the goddess of the new year and the returning sun.[c] Her festival, called Divalia or Angeronalia, was celebrated on 21 December. The priests offered sacrifice in the temple of Volupia, the goddess of pleasure, in which stood a statue of Angerona, with a finger on her mouth, which was bound and closed.[4] She was worshiped as Ancharia at Faesulae, where an altar belonging to her was discovered in the late 19th century.[2] In art, she was depicted with a bandaged mouth and a finger pressed to her lips, demanding silence.[5]

Georges Dumézil considers Angerona as the goddess who helps nature and men to sustain successfully the yearly crisis of the winter days. These culminate in the winter solstice, the shortest day, which in Latin is known as bruma, from brevissima (dies), the shortest day. The embarrassment, pain and anguish caused by the lack of light and the cold are expressed by the word angor.[6] In Latin the cognate word angustiae designates a space of time considered as disgracefully and painfully too short.[d] Angerona and the connected cult guaranteed the overcoming of the unpleasant angusti dies narrow, short days.

Dumézil pointed out that the Roman goddesses whose name ends with the suffix -ona or -onia to discharge the function of helping worshipers to overcome a particular time or condition of crisis: instances include Bellona who allows the Roman to wade across war in the best way possible, Orbona who cares for parents who lost a child,[9] Pellonia who pushes the enemies away,[10] Fessonia who permits travellers to subdue fatigue.[11]

Angerona's feriae named Angeronalia or Divalia took place on December 21 – the day of the winter solstice. On that day the pontiffs offered a sacrifice to the goddess in curia Acculeia according to Varro[12] or in sacello Volupiae, near the Porta Romanula, one of the inner gates on the northern side of the Palatine.[13] A famous statue of Angerona, with her mouth bandaged and sealed and with a finger on the lips in the gesture that requests silence,[14] was placed in Angerona's shrine, on an altar to Volupia.[15] Dumézil sees in this peculiar feature the reason of her being listed among the goddesses who were considered candidates to the title of secret tutelary deity of Rome.[16]

Dumézil considers this peculiar feature of Angerona's statue to hint to a prerogative of the goddess which was well known to the Romans, i.e. her will of requesting silence. He remarks silence in a time of cosmic crisis is a well documented point in other religions, giving two instances from Scandinavian and Vedic religion.[e][f]

Dumézil (1956) proposes that the association between Angerona and Volupia can be explained as the pleasure that derives from a fulfilled desire, the achievement of an objective.[g] Thence the description θεός τῆς βουλῆς καί καιρῶν ["goddess of advice and of favorable occasions"] given in a Latin-Greek glossary.[19]: 66–69 

Footnotes

  1. ^ A late antique source suggests the sacred name of the city was Amor, i.e. Roma reversed.
  2. ^ Sorania and Hirpa have also been put forward as candidates for the secret name.[3]
  3. ^ According to Mommsen, ab angerendo = ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀναφέρεσθαι τὸν ἥλιον.
  4. ^ Dumézil cites a description of the turn in the year by Macrobius: "the time when the light is angusta ...; the solstice, day in which the sun rises finally" [ex latebris angustiisque ...][7] and Ovid: "The summer solstice does not make my nights short, and the winter solstice does not make days angustos."[8]
  5. ^ Among the Scandinavians god Viðarr is considered the second strongest after Thor. His only known act is placed at the time of the "Dusk of the gods", the great crisis in which the old world disappears, as the wolf Fenrir swallows Oðinn and the sun.[17] Then Viðarr defeats Fenrir permitting the rebirth of the world with a female sun, the daughter of the disappeared one. The eschatological crisis in which Fenrir devours the sun is seen as the "Great Winter" Fimbulvetr and the god who kills Fenrir, Viðarr, is defined the "silent Ase":[18] Silence must be associated with his exceptional force and his feat as savior of the world. Angerona too discharges the function of saving the sun in danger, thanks to her silence and the concentration of mystical force it brings.
  6. ^ In Vedic religion silence is used in another crisis of the sun, that of the eclipse: When the sun was hidden in the demonic dark, Atri took it away from there by means of the fourth bráhman and a cult to the gods through "nude worship", i.e. with a force from within and no uttered words.[19]: 55–64 
  7. ^ Note that the meaning of the archaic adjective volup(e) does not refer to ‘pleasure’ in the carnal sense of the later word voluptas.[19]: 66–69 

References

  1. ^ "Roman Goddess: Angerona". Flowers for Gods. 2018-11-23. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  2. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  3. ^ LaBadie, Horace W., Jr. "What was the secret name of Rome?". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  4. ^ Macrobius I, 10;
    Pliny, Natural History III, 9;
    Varro, De Lingua Latina VI, 23
  5. ^ Statue of Angerona. Bronze 662 (http://medaillesetantiques.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/c33gbf19z), de Luynes collection, BnF
  6. ^ Dumézil (1977) p. 296-299.
  7. ^ Macrobius. Saturnalia I 25, 15
  8. ^ Ovid. Tristia, V 10, 7-8
  9. ^ Cicero. De Natura Deorum III 63; Arnobius. Adversus Gentiles, IV 7.
  10. ^ Arnobius Adversus Gentiles IV 4.
  11. ^ Augustine. De Civitate Dei, IV 21.
  12. ^ Varro. De Lingua Latina, VI 23
  13. ^ Macrobius. Saturnalia, I 10, 7.
  14. ^ Solinus. De Mirabilibus Mundi, I 6
  15. ^ Macrobius. Saturnalia, I 10, 8.
  16. ^ Macrobius. Saturnalia, III 8, 3-4.
  17. ^ Völuspa 53;
    Edda Snorra Sturlusonar (Snorri's Edda) p. 73 F. Jónsson (1931), cited by Dumézil (1977) p. 298.
  18. ^ Edda Snorra Sturlusonar p. 33, cited by Dumézil (1977) p. 298.
  19. ^ a b c Dumézil, G. (1956). Déesses latines et mythes védiques. Paris.

Bibliography