In Roman mythology, Laverna was a goddess of thieves, cheats and the underworld. She was propitiated by libations poured with the left hand. The poet Horace and the playwright Plautus called her a goddess of thieves. In Rome, her sanctuary was near the Porta Lavernalis.


Laverna was an old Italian deity, originally one of the spirits of the underworld. A cup found in an Etruscan tomb bears the inscription "Lavernai Pocolom," (cf. poculum); and in a fragment of Septimius Serenus Laverna is expressly mentioned in connection with the di inferi. By an easy transition, she came to be regarded as the protectress of thieves, whose operations were associated with darkness.[1]

She had an altar on the Aventine Hill, near the gate called after her Lavernalis, and a grove on the Via Salaria. Her aid was invoked by thieves to enable them to carry out their plans successfully without forfeiting their reputation for piety and honesty.[2] Many explanations have been given of the name:[1]

  1. from latere (Schol. on Horace, who gives laternio as another form of lavernio or robber);
  2. from lavare (Acron on Horace, according to whom thieves were called lavatores, perhaps referring to bath thieves);
  3. from levare (cf. shop-lifters). Modern etymologists connect it with lu-crum, and explain it as meaning the goddess of gain.

Popular culture

Her name is used for the main antagonist in the CGI animation Barbie: Fairytopia film series. Laverna is an evil fairy who is the twin sister of the land's fairy queen, The Enchantress.

In "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin describes the ineffective Prefect of Police as "too cunning to be profound. In his wisdom is no stamen. It is all head and no body, like the pictures of the Goddess Laverna." She was also the goddess of cats.

"Laverna" is an unofficial nickname for Otter 841.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b Chisholm 1911, p. 293.
  2. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 293 cites Horace, Ep. i. 16, 60.
  3. ^ Iati, Marisa (July 24, 2023). "How an 'ungovernable' otter became an internet sensation". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ Gorvett, Zaria (5 September 2023). "The hunt for California's surfing otter". BBC. Retrieved 2024-04-20.


Further reading