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Chapter 6: The Worship of Earth Among the Aryan Peoples of Antiquity

§ 1. The Worship of Earth among the Vedic Indians

Pṛithivī, the Vedic Earth-goddess, is the wife of the Sky-god Dyaus, but otherwise hardly figures in Vedic mythology.

Hymn to the Earth-goddess in the Atharva-veda.

HAVING treated in previous chapters of the personification and worship of the sky, we may next proceed to examine the corresponding personification and worship of the earth, which in the physical world is in a sense the counterpart of the sky. In mythology the Earth, regarded as a person, is often conceived of as the wife of the Sky-god. We have seen that among the ancient Aryans of India the Sky and Earth were thus personified as husband and wife under the names of Dyaus and Pṛithivī, the father and mother of all living creatures.1 But apart from her association as a wife with the Sky-god, the Earth-goddess Pṛithivī appears to have played a very small part in Vedic religion. She is praised alone in a short hymn of the Rig-veda,2 but in it she is hardly regarded as an Earth-goddess pure and simple; for, though she is said to quicken the earth, she is also described as wielding the thunder-bolt. In the Atharva-veda, which is a much later collection of hymns than the Rig-veda and was not at first recognized as canonical,3 there is a long and beautiful hymn addressed to the Earth-goddess.4 In it we read: “The Earth is the mother and I am the son of the Earth: Parjanya is the father; may he nourish us!”5 and again: “Reverence be paid to the Earth, the wife of Parjanya, to her who draws her richness from showers”.6 Here it will be noticed that the husband of the Earth-goddess is not the Sky-god Dyaus, but Parjanya, who appears to be a personification of the rain-cloud.7 In the same hymn we read: “O Mother Earth, kindly set me down upon a well-founded place! With (father) Heaven co-operating, O thou wise one, do thou place me into happiness and prosperity!”8 But the greater part of the long hymn is devoted to a description of the physical earth with its hills and snowy mountains and plains, its seas and rivers, its forests, and its races of men and animals. As to the inhabitants of the earth the poet says, addressing the goddess: “The mortals born of thee live on thee, thou supportest both bipeds and quadrupeds. Thine, O Earth, are these five races of men, of mortals, upon whom the rising sun sheds undying light with his rays. These creatures all together shall yield milk for us; do thou, O Earth, give us the honey of speech! Upon the firm broad earth, the all-begetting Mother of the plants, that is supported by (divine) law, upon her, propitious and kind, may we ever pass our lives!…Upon the earth men give to the gods the sacrifice, the prepared oblation; upon the earth men live pleasant lives by food. May this Earth give us breath and life, may she cause me to reach old age!”9 Once more we read in the hymn: “The earth upon whom the noisy mortals sing and dance, upon whom they fight, upon whom resounds the roaring drum, shall drive forth our enemies, shall make us free from rivals!”10 Throughout the hymn the poet never loses sight of the material nature of the earth; its mythical or religious aspect he touches on very lightly; the personification is very slight and perfectly transparent.

Mother Earth takes the dead back to her bosom.

By a natural train of thought Mother Earth, who gives birth to men, is conceived to take her dead sons back to her back to her bosom. In a funeral hymn of the Rig-veda the poet, addressing a dead man, speaks thus:

Betake thee to the lap of Earth the Mother, of Earth, far-spreading, very kind and gracious.

Young dame, wool-soft unto the guerdon-giver, may she preserve thee from Destruction.”

Then turning to Earth herself, the poet proceeds:

Heave thyself, Earth, nor press thee downward heavily: afford him easy access, gently tending him.

Earth, as a mother wraps her skirt about her child, so cover him11

§ 2. The Worship of Earth among the Ancient Greeks12

The Greek Earth-goddess, Gain or Ge, not prominent in Greek religion.

In ancient Greece, as in ancient India, the worship of Earth as a goddess was not an important element of the national religion, unless indeed we regard Demeter as an Earth-goddess, for unquestionably Demeter was one of the most important, as well as among the most stately and beautiful, figures in the Greek pantheon. But she was a goddess of the corn rather than of the earth.13 The true Greek goddess of the Earth was Gaia or Ge, whose name means nothing but the actual material earth, and is constantly used in that sense by Greek writers from the earliest to the latest times. Hence in her case the personification is open and unambiguous; the veil of mythic fancy is too thin and transparent to conceal the physical basis of the goddess.

The Earth-goddess in Greek mythology: Hesiod's account of her.

The poet's home at Ascra.

But if the Earth-goddess never received a large share of Greek worship, she played an important part in the scheme of Greek mythology as expounded by the poet Hesiod in his Theogony. According to him, Broad-bosomed Earth, as he calls her, was the first being that came into existence after the primeval chaos. She was older than the sky, indeed she gave birth to the starry sky, he was her firstborn; and afterwards she brought forth the mountains and the sea. All these, apparently, she was thought to have produced of herself without the assistance of any male power. But thereafter, she mated with the Sky, her own offspring, and from, their union were born Ocean and the Titans.14 For the poet distinguished the sea, by which he probably meant the Mediterranean, from the great ocean lying beyond the Pillars of Hercules, of which adventurous mariners had brought back tales of wonder to the Greeks of the home land, and of which rumours had reached even the poet-husbandman Hesiod among the quiet dells of Helicon. Yet husbandman as he was, and author of the oldest extant treatise on husbandry, Hesiod appears to have felt little tenderness or respect for the Earth-goddess on whom he depended for his livelihood; perhaps the land about Ascra, his native town, was hard and stony, and yielded but a scanty harvest to the plough and the sickle. Certainly he grumbled at Ascra, which he described as “a wretched village, bad in winter, disagreeable in summer, good at no time”.15 It stood on the top of a hill, exposed to all the winds that blow; by the second century of our era the place had fallen into utter decay and nothing worth mentioning remained in it but a single tower. The solitary tower still crowns the summit of the hill, a far-seen landmark, and the hill-side is still stony and rugged.16 So perhaps after all the bard had some ground for complaining of the niggardliness of the goddess and for paying her out in the uncomplimentary verses which he wrote about her. Certainly he represents her in a very unamiable light as hard, cruel, and treacherous. For did she not instigate her offspring, the Titans, to attack and mutilate their own father while he, quite unsuspecting, lay quiet with her in bed? Did she not even provide the weapon with which the dastardly outrage was perpetrated on the deity by his unnatural son?17

The Homeric hymn to Earth, the Mother of All.

A far more favourable portrait of the Earth-goddess, and one which probably harmonized much better with Greek notions and sentiments about her, is painted by the author of the Homeric hymn addressed to “Earth, the Mother of All”. In English it runs thus:

I'll sing of Earth, Mother of All, of her the firm-founded,

Eldest of beings, her who feeds all that in the world exists;

All things that go upon the sacred land and on the sea,

And all that fly, all they art fed from thy bounty.

By thee, O Queen, are men blessed in their children, blessed in their crops;

Thine it is to give life and to take it back

From mortal men. Happy is he whom thou in heart

Dost honour graciously; he hath all things in plenty.

For him his fruitful land is big with corn, and his meads

Abound in cattle, and his house is full of good things.

Such men do rule in righteousness a city of fair women.

Great wealth and riches wait on them;

Their sons exult in joyance ever new;

In florid troops their maidens blithesomely

Do sport and skip about the meadows lush with flowers.

Such are they whom thou dost honour, Goddess revered,

O bounteous Spirit.

Hail, Mother of Gods, Spouse of the Starry Sky,

And graciously for this my song bestow on me

Substance enough for heart's ease. So shall I not forget

To hymn thee in another lay18

Plutarch on the worship of Earth.

Hundreds of years-later a like feeling of reverence and affection for the Earth-goddess was expressed by Plutarch with that simple piety and transparent sincerity which characterize all the writings of that excellent and lovable man. He says: “Fire receives barbaric honours among the Medes and Assyrians, who out of fear think to acquit themselves of the obligations of religion by worshipping the destructive rather than the venerable aspects of nature; but the name of Earth is dear, I ween, and precious to every Greek, and it is a custom handed down to us by our fathers to revere her like any other deity”.19

Antiquity of the worship of Earth in Greece.

The worship of Earth at Dodona.

But if in the historical ages of Greece the public worship of Earth was comparatively rare and unimportant, there are some grounds for thinking that it must have been very ancient. The three great seats of the national religion were Dodona, Delphi, and Olympia, and at all of them the worship of the Earth-goddess would seem to have been established in antiquity. At Dodona the main objects of religious reverence were certainly Zeus and his oracular oak, but side by side with them the Earth-goddess appears to have shared the homage of the pilgrims who flocked to the shrine. For the priestesses, who perhaps bore the title of Doves, are said to have chanted the verses:

Zeus was, Zeus is, Zeus shall be: O great Zeus!

The Earth yields fruits, therefore glorify Mother Earth”.20

The oracle of Earth as Delphi.

At Delphi the oracle is said to have belonged to Poseidon and Earth long before it was taken over by Apollo, and the tradition ran that the Earth-goddess delivered her oracles in person, while Poseidon employed a mere human being as his interpreter and intermediary.21 In a hymn to Apollo, which was discovered by the French in their excavations at Delphi, there is an allusion to the peaceful displacement of Earth by Apollo when he came from Tempe to take possession of the oracle.22 The poet Aeschylus, a high authority on the religious traditions of his country, represents the Pythian priestess at Delphi as praying first of all to Earth, and calling her the first who ever gave oracles at the shrine.23 Among her predictions she is said to have prophesied that Cronus would be dethroned by his own son, that Zeus would vanquish the Titans with the help of the Cyclopes, and that Metis would bear a son who should be the lord of heaven.24 Down to the time of Plutarch the ancient goddess had a sacred precinct at Delphi to the south of the great temple of Apollo.25 The frowning cliffs above Delphi and the deep glen below might naturally mark out the spot as a fit seat for a sanctuary and oracle of Earth. Nowhere else in Greece, unless it be at the foot of the tremendous precipices down which the water of the Styx falls or dribbles in Arcadia, has Nature thus wrought as with an artist's hand to impress on the spectator's mind so deep a sense of awe and solemnity. Indeed, in antiquity some philosophers attempted to explain the oracle at Delphi by a theory that the priestess was inspired by certain physical exhalations or vapours due to the nature and configuration of the ground, and they traced the decadence of the oracle in their own time to a decrease or cessation of the exhalations consequent on changes in the crust of the earth brought about by natural causes, such as heavy rains, thunderbolts, and above all, earthquakes. Plutarch, who seems to have inclined to accept this view, compares the exhaustion of the oracular vein to the exhaustion of the silver mines in Attica, and of the copper mines in Euboea, and to the frequent intermittence in the flow of hot springs. On this attempt to reconcile science with religion one of the interlocutors in Cicero's dialogue on divination pours scorn. “You might think”, says he, “that they were talking of wine or pickles, which go off with time; but what length of time can wear out a power divine?”26

Altars and sanctuaries of Earth in Greece.

In the great sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia there was an altar of the Earth-goddess made of ashes, and the tradition ran that of old the goddess had an oracle on the spot27 Some miles from the site of the ancient Aegae in Achaia there was a sanctuary of Earth, who here bore the title of Broad-bosomed. At this sanctuary an oracle of Earth subsisted down to the second century of our era. The priestess drank bull's blood, and under its influence descended into the oracular cave. She was bound to remain chaste during her tenure of office, and before she entered on it she might not have known more than one man. The bull's blood which inspired a chaste priestess was supposed to act like poison on one who had not kept her vow.28 Similarly, the prophetess of Apollo Diradiotes at Argos drank the blood of a sacrificial lamb once a month as a means of inspiration before she prophesied in the name of the god. The lamb was sacrificed by night, and the prophetess, like the priestess of Earth near Aegae, had to abstain from all intercourse with the other sex.29 At Sparta there were two sanctuaries of Earth.30 There was an altar to Earth at Tegea in Arcadia,31 and another at Phlya in Attica, where she bore the title of the Great Goddess.32 In the great sanctuary of Olympian Zeus at Athens, where the lofty columns which have survived the wreck of ages are among the most imposing monuments of ancient Greece, there was a precinct of Olympian Earth, where the ground was cloven to the depth of a cubit. Tradition ran that in Deucalion's time the water of the great flood, which submerged almost the whole of Greece, all flowed away down this seemingly insignificant drain.33 This sanctuary of Earth is mentioned by Thucydides as one proof of the antiquity of the city in that quarter.34 Thus, if the shrines of the Earth-goddess were neither numerous nor splendid, the traditions associated with them point to the great age of her worship in Greece. Perhaps the Greeks took it over from the aborigines whom they conquered or exterminated.

Mode of worship of Earth in Greece. Black victims sacrificed to her.

Earth the Fruit bearing

Earth praying for rain.

Earth the Nursing Mother.

About the manner of the worship, which they offered to her we know very little. The victims sacrificed to her would seem to have been black. In Homer we read of the sacrifice of a black ewe lamb to Earth, and of a white male lamb to the Sun:35 black yearling lambs were sacrificed to Subterranean (Chthonian) Earth and Subterranean (Chthonian) Zeus for the crops on the twelfth day of the month Lenaeon in the island of Myconos;36 and at Marathon a goat entirely black was sacrificed to Earth “at the oracle” on the tenth day of the month Elaphebolion, and a cow in calf was offered to her “among the acres” at another time of the year, but the colour of the cow is not mentioned.37 The sacrifice offered to her for the crops in Myconos proves that she was supposed to quicken the seed in the ground, which was a very natural function for an Earth-goddess to perform. The same inference may be drawn from the epithet, Fruit-bearing, which was applied to her both at Athens and at Cyzicus. At Athens the name of the goddess with this epithet is engraved on the rock of the Acropolis, and the inscription, which is still legible, informs us that it was carved in compliance with an oracle.38 Near this inscription on the Acropolis there was an image of Earth praying to Zeus for rain,39 from which we may perhaps infer that the goddess was invoked to intercede with Zeus for rain in time of drought. The image may have represented her in the act of emerging from the rock and stretching her arms upward, while a great part of her body remained under ground. In this attitude she is often depicted on Greek vases and on a well-known terra-cotta relief, in which the goddess is represented with her head and shoulders only above ground, holding up the infant Erichthonius to his mother Athene in presence of Poseidon, whose fishy tail gives him the appearance of a merman.40 The conception of Earth as a power able both to fertilize the ground and to bestow offspring on men appears to be indicated by her association with Green Demeter, and by the epithet of Nursing-mother (Kourotrophos) bestowed on her at a sanctuary which was dedicated to her and to Green Demeter, near the entrance to the Acropolis at Athens.41 Erichthonius is said to have been born from the earth, and very appropriately he is reported to have been the first to sacrifice to the Earth-goddess under the title of Nursing-mother, and to set up an altar to her on the Acropolis out of gratitude for his upbringing.42 The Athenian lads used to sacrifice to the Nursing-mother on the Acropolis;43 and in a fragmentary inscription found on the Acropolis the sacrifice of a pig to Earth the Nursing-mother appears to be prescribed.44 Aristophanes represents the Athenian women praying to Demeter and Earth the Nursing-mother at the festival of the Thesmophoria.45 Not far from the joint sanctuary of Earth and Green Demeter, whose epithet of Green refers to the green sprouting corn, there was a sanctuary of the Furies near the Areopagus, and in it were statues of Earth, Pluto, and Hermes. Here sacrifices were offered both by Athenians and foreigners, but especially by persons who had been acquitted at the bar of the Areopagus.46 Curiously enough, persons who had been wrongly supposed to be dead, and for whom funeral rites had been performed, were not allowed to enter this sanctuary of the Furies.47

Earth invoked in oaths.

The Earth-goddess was often invoked in solemn oaths, along with other deities, especially Zeus and the Sun, to witness the truth of an asseveration. Thus when Agamemnon solemnly swore that he had not approached Briseis while she was his prisoner, he sacrificed a boar to Zeus, and looking up to heaven called upon Zeus, the Earth, the Sun, and the Furies to be his witnesses that he did not lie.48 And in the Odyssey Calypso swears to Ulysses by “Earth, and the wide Sky above, and the down-trickling water of Styx” that she meant him no harm.49 An Aetolian oath was by Zeus, the Earth, and the Sun.50 In Chersonesus, a Greek city of the Crimea, the citizens took an oath of loyalty to their city, swearing by Zeus, the Earth, the Sun, the Virgin, the gods and goddesses of Olympus, and the heroes who protected the city and the country and the walls51. In a treaty of alliance between the cities of Drerus and Cnossus in Crete the allies took a tremendous oath of fidelity by Hestia of the Prytaneum, and Zeus (Den) of the Market-place, and Tallaean Zeus (Den), and the Delphinian Apollo, and Athene the Guardian of the City, and the Poetian Apollo, and Latona, and Artemis, and Ares, and Aphrodite, and Hermes, and the Sun, and Britomartis, and Phoenix, and Amphiona, and the Earth, and the Sky, and the heroes, and the heroines, and the springs, and the rivers, and all the gods and goddesses, that they would never and by no manner of means be friendly to the Lyttians, neither by night nor by day, but that on the contrary they would do all the harm they possibly could to the city of the Lyttians.52 About the year 244 B.C. the people of Magnesia concluded a treaty of alliance with Smyrna and King Seleucus II., and swore to observe it faithfully, calling on Zeus, the Earth, the Sun, Ares, Warlike Athene, Tauropolus, the Sipylene Mother, Apollo of Panda, all the other gods and goddesses, and the Fortune of King Seleucus, to be their witnesses. The people of Smyrna on their part swore in much the same terms to observe the treaty, but in the list of deities by whom they swore they omitted Apollo in Panda and the Fortune of King Seleucus, substituting Stratonicean Aphrodite in their room.53 The mercenary troops of Eumenes I., King of Pergamum, took an oath of loyalty to him, swearing by Zeus, the Earth, the Sun, Poseidon, Demeter, Ares, Warlike Athene, Tauropolus, and all the other gods and goddesses; and the king swore by the same deities to observe good faith to the troops.54 In or about the year 3 B.C. the Paphlagonians swore fealty to the Emperor Augustus by Zeus, the Earth, the Sun, all the gods and goddesses, and also by the Emperor himself.55 Thus in Greek-speaking lands the old oath by Zeus, the Earth, and the Sun persisted from the Homeric age down to imperial times.

§ 3. The Worship of Earth among the Ancient Romans56

Scanty evidence of the worship of Earth in Rome and Italy.

Her names, Tellus and Terra.

Pregnant sow sacrificed to her.

The ancient Romans, like the ancient Greeks, personified and worshipped the Earth as a Mother Goddess; but though her worship was doubtless very ancient, the evidence for its observance in Rome and Italy is very scanty; the goddess would seem to have been pushed into the background by other and more popular deities, above all by the Sky-god Jupiter, and by the Corn-goddess Ceres, with whom she was often confounded.57 Her proper name was Tellus,58 which is also a common Latin noun signifying “earth”; but in later times she was more usually invoked under the name of Terra or Terra Mater,59 that is, “Mother Earth,” terra being practically synonymous with tellus in the sense of “earth”. Apparently she personified, not so much the whole earth as, primarily, the fruitful field to which men owe their food and therefore their life, and, secondarily, the burial ground which receives their bodies after death. The poet Lucretius sums up the conception of the Earth-mother in her double aspect in a striking phrase by saying that she is thought to be “the universal parent and the common tomb”.60 So the older poet Ennius said that the Earth “gave birth to all nations and takes them back again”.61 Again, in an epitaph on a tomb it is said that, “the bones which Earth produced she covers in the grave”.62 For the Earth was thought to be the source not only of vegetable but of animal life. In the ode composed by Horace to be sung at the Secular Games which Augustus celebrated in 17 B.C., the poet prays that “Earth (Tellus) fruitful in crops and cattle, may bestow on Ceres a crown of ears of corn”;63 and from an inscription containing an account of the Secular Games, which was found in the Field of Mars (Campus Martius) at Rome in 1890, we learn that on this occasion the goddess was invoked under the title of Mother Earth (Terra Mater) and that a sow big with young was sacrificed to her.64 Again, in an oath of loyalty to Rome, which the Italians took in 91 B.C., they swore by Capitoline Jupiter, by the Roman Vesta, by Mars, by the Sun, and by “Earth, the benefactress both of animals and plants”.65

Earth coupled with the Sky and Jupiter.

In an inscription found at Rome mention is made of a sanctuary dedicated to the Eternal Sky, to Mother Earth, and to Mercury Menestrator.66 At the beginning of his treatise on agriculture, Varro, the greatest of Roman antiquaries, tells us that he will invoke the twelve Confederate Gods (dei consentes), not those twelve gods, male and female, whose gilded statues adorned the forum, but the twelve gods who were the special patrons of farming. Among them he invokes in the first place Jupiter and Earth (Tellus) because they, in their respective spheres of sky and earth (terra), contain all the fruits of husbandry; therefore, he proceeds, because they are called the Great Parents, Jupiter is named Father, and Earth (Tellus) is named Mother.67 In this passage, just as Tellus is plainly a personification of the physical earth, so Jupiter is plainly a personification of the physical sky. Thus Varro is at one with the writer of the inscription, in which, as we have just seen, Mother Earth is coupled with the Eternal Sky; and Varro more than hints at the ancient myth of the marriage of Sky and Earth, though perhaps his orthodox Roman faith prevented him from expressly substituting Earth for Jupiter's legitimate wife Juno. A similar collocation of Jupiter and Earth occurs in the solemn form of imprecation in which a Roman general devoted to destruction, the cities, lands, armies, and people of the enemy, for at the close of the curse he called on Mother Earth (Tellus) and Jupiter to be his witnesses; and when he named Earth, he touched the earth with his hands; and when he named Jupiter, he raised his hands towards the sky.68 Here, again, the identification of Jupiter as a Sky-god is rendered indubitable by the accompanying gesture, and it is remarkable that in this fearful imprecation Mother Earth takes precedence of the Sky-god, perhaps with reference to the fate of the foemen who might be expected soon to return to the bosom of their Mother, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Sacrifices offered by the pontiffs to Earth (Tellus) and Tellumo.

Elsewhere Varro tells us that the pontiffs used to sacrifice to four deities, namely Earth (Tellus) Tellumo, Altor, and Rusor.69 Here Tellumo is apparently a male Earth-god, the husband of the Earth-goddess. Certainly his name appears to be only a masculine form of Tellus, “the earth”. Varro himself saw this and explained the two deities as personifications of the earth in its twofold aspect, first as a male who produces the seeds (Tellumo), and second as a female who receives and nourishes them (Tellus)70 In a late writer a masculine deity Tellumo, no doubt equivalent to Tellumo, is mentioned along with Ceres.71 As to the deity Altor, whom the pontiffs associated with Earth (Tellus) and Tellumo, he was no doubt rightly interpreted by Varro to mean the Nourisher, from the verb alere, to nourish, “because all things that are born are nourished from the earth”. The fourth deity Rusor was explained by Varro to signify Reverser, because all things revert or revolve back again to the same place.72

The Earth-goddess (Tellus or Terra) associated with Ceres, the Corn-goddess. Sacrifices to the two goddesses at the festival of sowing.

Twelve subordinate deities of agriculture.

Supplementary list of female divinities charged with fostering the growth of corn

Naturally enough the Earth-goddess Tellus or Terra was often associated with the Corn-goddess Ceres. The two are neatly compared and distinguished by Ovid, who says that the Corn-goddess makes the seeds to grow, while the Earth-goddess gives them a place in which to grow.73 Hence certain sacrifices were offered to them jointly. One such sacrifice took place at the festival of sowing. The most approved time for the winter sowing was from the autumnal equinox in September till the winter solstice in December.74 The festival of sowing followed in January, after the seed had been committed to the ground,75 and its aim was no doubt to foster the growth of the seedlings.76 No fixed day was appointed for it in the calendar; it was a moveable feast, the time for which varied from year to year with the state of the season and the weather.77 The day for the beginning of the festival was appointed in each year by the pontiffs.78 The offering to the two goddesses consisted of spelt and the inward parts of a sow big with young.79 The festival comprised two days which were separated from each other, curiously enough, by an interval of seven days. The first of the two days was dedicated to the Earth-goddess Tellus or Terra, the second was dedicated to the Corn-goddess Ceres.80 On this second day, probably, the Flamen Cerialis offered to Earth (Tellus) and Ceres jointly a sacrifice, at which he invoked the help of twelve subordinate deities, each concerned with a special department of agriculture, and all of them together making up a complete cycle of the operations of husbandry, from the first breaking up of the fallow under the plough to the reaping, gathering into the barn, and the taking of corn from the granary.81 These twelve lubbardly fiends, with their uncouth names, furnish a good instance of the minute scrupulosity of the Roman religious mind, which, far from content with committing the direction of affairs to a few great gods, relieved these overworked deities of a great part of their functions by installing a complete bureaucracy of minor divinities, whose special business it was to superintend the whole circle of human life down to its pettiest and most seemingly insignificant details.82 Indeed, deities multiplied at such a rate that a Roman philosopher calculated that the population of heaven exceeded that of earth,83 and a Roman wench complained that she could not walk the streets in pursuit of business without knocking up against a god much oftener than against a man.84 Even the twelve minor divinities, whom the flamen Cerialis invoked at the festival of sowing, did not suffice to bring the corn to maturity; they were all males, and Augustine furnishes us with a supplementary list of female divinities, whose duty it was to assist the growth of the corn at every stage of its development; it would task a professional botanist to explain the nice distinctions between the various functions which they discharged. The Christian Father makes merry over the really excessive exuberance of the Roman deities, remarking, that while one man sufficed to act as door-porter, no less than three gods were required to do the same job, one of them being told off to look after the door, a second to take care of the hinges, and a third to keep the threshold in order.85 To such a degree of perfection did the Romans carry the principle of the division of labour in the sphere of religion.

The Fordicidia: sacrifice of pregnant cows to the Earth-goddess on April 15th.

The blood of the October horse mixed with the sacrifices.

Another sacrifice for the crops was offered to the Earth-goddess Tellus on the fifteenth of April. The victim sacrificed was a cow in calf; such a victim was called a bos forda; hence the festival bore the name of Fordicidia, that is, the Killing of the Pregnant Cow.86 These victims were sacrificed in all the thirty wards (curiae) of Rome and also by the pontiffs on the Capitol.87 No doubt a victim big with young was chosen with reference to the crops, in order that, by a sort of sympathetic magic, Earth's womb might teem with increase and yield an abundant harvest. A curious piece of ritual was performed at this sacrifice. The unborn calves were torn from the wombs of their mothers and burned to ashes, and these ashes, mixed with the blood of a horse and bean-stalks, were afterwards used by the Senior Vestal Virgin to purify the people at the shepherds’ festival of the Parilia, which fell six days later, on the twenty-first of April. On that day people repaired to the temple of Vesta, where the Senior Vestal distributed to them from the altar the mingled ashes, blood, and beanstalks. These they carried away to be used in the fumigations which formed a notable part of the rites. The poet Ovid, who describes the ritual in his valuable work on the Roman calendar, tells us that he himself often came away from the altar with a handful of ashes and beanstalks.88 The blood, which was mingled with the ashes of the unborn calves to serve in fumigation, had also a curious history. On the fifteenth day of October in every year a chariot-race was run in the Field of Mars, and the right-hand horse of the victorious chariot was sacrificed to Mars for the good of the crops. The animal's tail was then cut off and carried by a runner at full speed to the King's House in the Forum, where it arrived still recking, and was held so that the blood dripped on the hearth or altar.89 It was this blood, shed just six months before, and now clotted and dry, which added its own purificatory virtue to that of the ashes of the calves and the beanstalks. The vulgar opinion was that the Romans, as descendants of the Trojans, sacrificed the horse out of revenge, because Troy had been betrayed and captured through the stratagem of the Wooden Horse.90 On this the hard-headed Polybius observed sarcastically that by the same token all the barbarians must be descendants of the Trojans, since all, or almost all, of them sacrificed a horse before going to war, and drew omens from its death agony.91 The true significance of the rite as designed to contribute to the fertility of the soil is intimated by the statement that the sacrifice was offered for the sake of the crops, and that the severed head of the horse was encircled with a necklace of loaves.92

Pregnant sows the regular victims offered to the Earth-goddess.

But while a cow in calf was sacrificed to the Earth-goddess at the Fordicidia in April, her regular victim was a sow big with young.93 We have seen that such victims were sacrificed to her at the festival of sowing and at the Secular Games.94 The true reason for sacrificing pregnant sows and in general pregnant victims to the Earth-goddess was not that the pig is an animal destructive of the crops,95 but that, as I have already pointed out in the case of the Fordicidia, a pregnant victim is supposed to communicate its own fertility to the ground and so to ensure a good harvest.96

The Earth-goddess apparently associated with the Corn-goddess Ceres in a sacrifice at harvest.

Sow sacrificed to the Earth-goddess and Ceres by an heir when the person to whom he succeeded had not been duly buried.

Another occasion on which the Earth-goddess appears to have been associated with the Corn-goddess Ceres was at a sacrifice offered every year before the reaping began, or perhaps rather before it was lawful to partake of the new fruits. The victim was a sow which received a special name (porca praecidanea), referring to its slaughter before the harvest, or before the eating of the new corn.97It is true that the writers who mention the sacrifice of a sow at this season speak of it as offered to the Corn-goddess Ceres alone, without any mention of the Earth-goddess; but on the other hand we are told on the high authority of Varro that a sow bearing the same title (porca praecidanea) must be sacrificed jointly to the Earth-goddess (Tellus) and Ceres by an heir when the person to whom he succeeded had not been duly buried; otherwise the family would be ceremonially polluted.98 This latter custom is mentioned also by two of our authorities (Aulus Gellius and Festus) who record the sacrifice of the sow before harvest; but again they mention only Ceres as the goddess to whom the sacrifice was offered. Festus says that if any person had not paid funeral rites to a dead man by casting a clod on his body, he had to sacrifice a sow (porca praecidanea) to Ceres before he might taste the new corn of the harvest99 To the same effect Aulus Gellius declares that the sacrifice of the sow (porca praecidanea) to Ceres was an expiation incumbent on persons who had failed to perform the usual purificatory rites after a death in the family, and that this sacrifice had to be offered by them before they might partake of the new fruits.100 Thus explained, the sacrifice of the pig (porca praecidanea) becomes perfectly intelligible. It is a widespread view, all over the world, that the first-fruits of harvest are holy, and that consequently they may not be eaten by persons in a state of ceremonial pollution.101 But a man who has been rendered unclean by a death in his family, and has not taken the proper steps to cleanse himself and his relations by performing the funeral ceremonies incumbent on him, is held to be in a state of virulent pollution, and consequently cannot without gross impiety partake of the new corn until he has first appeased the Corn-goddess by the sacrifice of a sow. Hence in this application the term porca praecidanea is a so w sacrificed before eating the new corn102 rather than a sow sacrificed before reaping the new corn.103 But, as we have seen, Varro tells us that in such cases the sow was sacrificed to the Earth-goddess as well as to the Corn-goddess, and this also is perfectly intelligible; for the Earth-goddess, who receives the dead into her bosom, naturally resents any omission of funeral rites as disrespectful to herself as well as to the departed, and naturally calls for an expiation in the shape of the sacrifice of a sow.104

Sacrifices perhaps offered to the Earth-goddess after an earthquake.

Another occasion on which a sacrifice was perhaps offered to the Earth-goddess was after an earthquake. It is said that during an earthquake a voice was once heard from the temple of Juno on the Capitol commanding an expiatory sacrifice of a pregnant sow,105 and a pregnant sow, as we have seen, was the regular victim offered to the Earth-goddess. Again, while the Romans were fighting the Picentes in the year 268 B.C., a shock of earthquake was felt by the contending armies, and in consequence the Roman Consul, P. Sempronius Sophus, vowed and built a temple of the Earth-goddess Tellus at Rome.106 Yet on the other hand we have it on the authority of Varro that in the case of earthquakes the Romans observed all the scrupulous caution which characterized them in religious matters. When an earthquake took place, they proclaimed a holy day or holy days, but refrained from announcing, as they usually did, the name of the god in whose honour the holy days were to be kept, and this they did for fear that they might name the wrong god and so involve the people in sin. Further, if any person, whether wittingly or unwittingly, desecrated one of these holy days the sacrilege had to be expiated by a sacrifice; but not knowing who the offended deity was, they did not dare to name him or her, but contented themselves with directing the sacrifice “whether to god or goddess”, leaving it to the deity to whom it properly belonged to claim his own. Such was the rule laid down by the pontiffs, the highest authorities on questions of religion, and the reason alleged for the rule was that they did not know what force or what god or goddess caused an earthquake.107 Thus it is by no means clear whether a pregnant sow was regularly offered after an earthquake, and even if it was so, it must still remain doubtful whether any part of the victim was formally assigned to the Earth-goddess.

The temple of the Earth-goddess on the Esquiline.

Meeting of the Senate in the temple of Earth after the murder of Caesar.

The temple of Earth it the civil wars.

Varro's dialogue in the temple of Earth.

So far as we know the temple built for the Earth-goddess in consequence of the earthquake of 268 B.C. was the only one she ever possessed in Rome. It stood in the quarter called the Carinae, on the western slope of the Esquiline Hill, above the Forum; the house of the Pompeys was not far off.108 The exact site has not been discovered, but it is believed to have been somewhere in the neighbourhood, though not immediately close to, the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, which contains the famous seated statue of Moses by Michael Angelo.109 Cicero's brother Quintus lived in the same quarter;110 he seems to have undertaken to restore or embellish the temple. His statue was set up in front of it by his brother the orator.111 In Cicero's lifetime part of the sacred area of the temple appears to have been appropriated by a private individual, who built himself a vestibule to his house on the spot; and for some reason the guilt of the sacrilege was apparently laid at the door of Cicero by his deadly enemy Publius Clodius. The season happened to be bad, the fields were barren, corn was scarce and dear, and in defending himself against the charge of impiety Cicero confesses to have felt misgivings as to whether the Earth-goddess had received her dues, all the more because the soothsayers reported that in the Campagna there had been heard a mysterious noise, accompanied by a dreadful clash of arms, which was interpreted to signify that the Earth-goddess and other deities were clamouring for their arrears.112 The day after Caesar had been murdered, Mark Antony summoned the Senate to meet in the temple of Earth because it was close to his house and he dared not go down to the Senate-house, situated as it was beneath the Capitol, where the assassins had taken refuge and were mustering the professional cut-throats known as gladiators to defend them. The messengers with the summons went round to the houses of the senators in the course of the night, and the senators met in the temple while the grey dawn was breaking over the city. Among the speakers on that memorable occasion were Mark Antony himself and Cicero.113 In the fierce street-fighting between the troops of Marius and Sulla, when the soldiers of Sulla, forcing their way into the city, were received with volleys of stones and tiles from the multitude perched on the house-tops, the general replied by ordering his men to set fire to the houses and leading the way himself with a blazing torch in his hand. Marius was driven back to the temple of Earth where he vainly endeavoured to make a last stand, calling on the slaves to rally round him and to win their freedom by the sword.114 Many years later, when the tide of civil war had ebbed far from the capital, though the issue had still to be fought out on distant battle-fields and seas, the aged antiquary Varro, then in his eightieth year, ascended the hill and passing along the now peaceful streets entered the temple of Earth. It was the time of the sowing festival, and he came at the invitation of the sacristan, probably to take part in some rite appropriate to the holy day. The sacristan himself was absent, but in the temple Varro met several friends who had also come at the invitation of the same official. He found them contemplating a picture of Italy painted on one of the walls of the edifice. Awaiting the return of the sacristan, they sat down on benches and fell into a discourse very appropriate to the season and the place, for it turned on the fertility of Italy, in which they agreed that it surpassed all the rest of the earth. For what spelt, they asked, was like the Campanian? what wheat like the Apulian? what wine like the Falernian? what olive-oil like the Venafran? could the vineyards of Phrygia vie with those of Italy? did the cornfields of Argos equal the cornfields of Italy? And as for fruit trees, were they not planted so thick in Italy that the whole country resembled an orchard?115 This patriotic panegyric on their native land, put in the mouth of a knot of old gentlemen discoursing peacefully on a holiday at the temple of the Earth-goddess, may perhaps have suggested to Virgil his famous praise of Italy,116 which is undoubtedly one of the noblest expressions of the love of country ever penned by mortal man.

The Earth-goddess annually worshipped on December 13th.

In her temple on the Esquiline the Earth-goddess was annually worshipped along with the Corn-goddess Ceres on the thirteenth day of December, which seems to have been the anniversary of the foundation of the temple. Apparently the worship took the form of a lectisternium, in which the deities were represented reclining on couches and partaking of a banquet.117

The worship of the Earth-goddess in the provinces.

The worship of the Roman Earth-goddess Tellus or Terra appears to have been widespread in the provinces, from Spain in the west to Dalmatia in the east, and south-ward to Numidia. But the inscriptions which attest the diffusion of the worship furnish little or no information as to the nature of the rites.118 At Rudnik, to the south of Belgrade, there was a temple of Mother Earth (Terra Mater) appropriately situated at the entrance to some quarries or mines; it was rebuilt in the name of the Emperor Septimius Severus by the procurator Cassius Ligurinus.119 Near Murcia, in Spain, a dedication to Mother Earth (Terra Mater) has been found, surmounted by an image of the goddess. She is represented as a woman of mature age, seated and holding in her left hand a cornucopia, in her right hand a saucer, while on her knees various fruits are heaped up in a fold of her robe.120 Such a representation lays stress on the character of the goddess as a deity of fertility; no wonder that as such she was sometimes confused with the Corn-goddess Ceres. In Africa the worship of the Earth-goddess seems to have been particularly popular. At Cuicol in Numidia the city built a temple to her under the title of Tellus Genitrix, which is equivalent to Mother Earth, and in the temple was an image of the goddess, presented by a certain Titus Julius Honoratus, Pontiff and Perpetual Flamen.121 Other temples of the Earth-goddess are known to have existed in Africa, as at Vaga and Cirta; the one at Vaga was restored in the year 2 B.C.122 Between Zama and Uzappa there was a temple of the Goddess Earth (dea Tellus), which was rebuilt by one of the successors of Marcus Aurelius. The existence of a priesthood, and consequently of a public worship, of the goddess is attested by inscriptions at Madaura and Thubursicum in Numidia. In both these towns the priestly office was discharged by priestesses.123 It has been remarked that traces of the worship of the Earth-goddess in Africa are found only in the interior of the province and in fertile regions, where the population had certainly been sedentary and agricultural before the Roman conquest. The natural inference is that the cult of the Earth-goddess had deep roots in the soil of Africa.124

The Earth-goddess in relation to the dead.

The last aspect of the Roman Earth-goddess which here calls for notice is her relation to the dead. She was often coupled with the deified spirits of the departed (the di manes). When the news of the death of Tiberius was made known at Rome, the populace were wild with joy and ran about the streets shouting, “To the Tiber with Tiberius”, while others prayed to Mother Earth and the deified dead to give the deceased tyrant a place among the damned in hell.125 Similar pious prayers were put up to the same deities by the Roman mob for the soul of the Emperor Gallienus.126 The grave would seem to have been naturally enough the place where Mother Earth and the deified spirits of the dead were worshipped together. An epitaph on the tomb of three members of the great Cornelian house contains a dedication to these divine spirits and to Mother Earth.127 And addresses to both Mother Earth and the deified dead often occur in sepulchral inscriptions.128

Custom of devoting the army of an enemy to the Earth-goddess and the spirits of the dead.

The consul P. Decius Mus thus devoted himself and the army of the enemy in 340 B.C.

But the most solemn of all occasions when these deities were conjoined was when a Roman general devoted himself to them in order by his death to procure the victory of his own men and the destruction of the enemy's army. Two instances of this devotion are recorded in Roman history. In the year 340 B.C. the Roman and the Latin armies were encamped over against each other in the neighbourhood of Capua. The Roman army was under the command of the two consuls P. Decius Mus and T. Manlius Torquatus. It was the eve of battle. In the dead of night both consuls dreamed the same dream. They seemed to see the figure of a man of more than mortal stature and of more than human majesty, who said that the general of the one side and the army of the other were doomed to fall victims to the deified spirits of the dead and to Mother Earth, and that victory would rest with the side whose general devoted himself and the army of the enemy to death. In the morning the consuls compared their dreams, and resolved that, to avert the anger of the gods, sacrifices should be offered, but that, if the omens drawn from the victims should be found to tally with the visions of the night, one of the two consuls should comply with the decree of fate. The sacrifices were offered, and the omens tallied exactly with the dreams. So a council of war was held; the situation was clearly explained to the officers by the commanders, and it was decided not to alarm the soldiers by the voluntary and public death of one of the consuls in front of the whole army, but to abide the issue of battle; then, if either wing of the Roman army gave way before the enemy, the consul in command of that wing was to devote himself to death for the Roman people and army, and rushing into the midst of the enemy to seek and find death.129 The thing was done. The battle took place near the foot of Vesuvius. Before the consuls led out the army to the fight, a sacrifice was offered and the auspices were taken. The soothsayer, on inspecting the entrails of the victim, informed the consul Decius that the omens were ill for him, but well for his colleague Manlius. “If they be well for him”, replied Decius, “then all is well.” He commanded the left wing; Manlius commanded the right. On the left wing the front Roman line gave way under a charge of the Latins and fell back on the second line. Their commander, the consul Decius, called for the pontiff, and bade him recite the form of words by which a general devoted himself to death for his army. The pontiff complied, and Decius repeated the words after him, in the attitude prescribed by ritual, standing on a javelin with his head muffled and his hand applied to his chin. Invoking all the Roman gods in due form, he prayed for the victory of the Roman arms and the destruction of the foe, concluding with a solemn dedication of himself and the army of the enemy to the Earth-goddess and the spirits of the dead. Then, having sent word to his colleague Manlius of what he had done, he leaped, sword in hand, on his horse, charged into the thickest of the enemy and was cut to pieces. But from the spot where he fell, consternation spread like wild-fire in the Latin ranks. Their whole army was soon in full flight, and the battle ended in a complete victory for the Romans. But the struggle lasted till nightfall, and in the darkness it was impossible to discover the dead body of Decius. Next day it was found, pierced with many wounds, where the enemy's dead lay thickest; and his colleague paid him funeral honours worthy of the death he had died.130

Livy on the ritual or devotion.

The historian Livy, after describing the devotion and death of Decius, adds some curious details of the ancient Roman ritual which had long passed out of use and almost of memory in his own day. He tells us that in devoting the army of the enemy to destruction a Roman commander was free to devote to death any soldier of his own army instead of himself, and that if the soldier so devoted fell in the battle, all was well; but that if he survived, a statue seven feet high or more had to be buried in the earth and a piacular sacrifice offered, and on the ground where the statue was buried, no Roman magistrate might set foot. Clearly the statue was offered to the Earth-goddess and the spirits of the dead as a substitute for the living victim of which they had been deprived by the escape of the soldier from the battle. But if the general devoted himself, as Decius did, and nevertheless survived, he was thenceforth incapable of offering any sacrifice, whether public or private, apparently because, having been devoted to the the infernal powers, he carried the taint of death about with him, and would consequently defile any religious rite at which he might venture to assist. Lastly, Livy tells us that the javelin, on which the general stood when he pronounced the formula of devotion, might not without sacrilege fall into the hands of the enemy; but that if they did contrive to get possession of it, the sacrilege had to be expiated by the sacrifice of a sheep and a bull to Mars.131

Similar death of the consul P. Decius, son of P. Decius Mus.

Forty-five years after the heroic death of P. Decius Mus, his son and namesake, the consul P. Decius, died a similar death in a desperate battle with the united forces of the Samnites, Umbrians, Etruscans, and Gauls. He, like his father, devoted himself and the army of the enemy to the Earth-goddess and the spirits of the dead; he, like his father, charged on horseback into the thickest of the foe and found a soldier's death in their midst; and his mangled body, like that of his father, was borne from the field by his weeping soldiers to receive the last honours that a grateful country could pay to his memory.132

  • 1.

    Above, pp. 22 sqq.

  • 2.

    Rig-veda, v. 84; Hymns of the Rig-veda, translated by R. T. H. Griffith (Benares, 1889–1892), vol. i. p. 301.

  • 3.

    The Imperial Gazetteer of India, The Indian Empire (Oxford, 1909), ii. 229. The writer (Professor A. A. Macdonell) says that “the Atharvaveda is decidedly later in language than the Rig-veda, but earlier than the Brahmanas. It must have been in existence as a collection by 600 B.C., but was a long time in attaining to canonical rank. It was, however, recognized as the fourth Veda by the second century B.C.

  • 4.

    Atharva-veda, xii. 1; Hymns of the Atharva-veda, translated by M. Bloomfield (Oxford, 1897), pp. 197-205 (Sacred Books of the East, vol. xlii.).

  • 5.

    J. Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, v. (London, 1884) p. 23.

  • 6.

    J. Muir, l.c.

  • 7.

    A. A. Macdonell, Vedic Mythology (Strassburg, 1897), p. 83.

  • 8.

    Atharva-veda, xii. 1. 63; Hymns of the Atharva-veda, translated by M. Bloomfield, p. 207.

  • 9.

    Atharva-veda, xii. 1. 15, 16, 17, 22; Hymns of the Atharva-veda, translated by M. Bloomfield, p. 201.

  • 10.

    Atharva-veda, xii. 1. 41; Hymns of the Atharva-veda, translated by M. Bloomfield, p. 204.

  • 11.

    Rig-veda, x. 18 10, 11; Hymns of the Rig-veda, translated by R. T. H. Griffith, vol. iv. p. 139. On this beautiful hymn, see H. Zimmer, Altindisches Leben (Berlin, 1879), pp. 404-407.

  • 12.

    For details on this subject, see Preller-Robert, Griechische Mythologie4, i. (Berlin, 1894), pp. 633 sqq.; Drexler, s.v. “Gaia”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, i. 1566; Eitrem, s.v. “Gain”, in Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyklopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, vii. 1. 467 sqq., L. R. Farnell, Cults of the Greek States, iii. 1 sqq., 307 sqq.

  • 13.

    See The Golden Bough, Part V. Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, i. 35 sqq.

  • 14.

    Hesiod, Theogony, 116-138.

  • 15.

    Hesiod, Works and Days, 639 sq.

  • 16.

    Pausanias, ix. 29. 2, with my commentary (vol. v. pp. 149 sq.).

  • 17.

    Hesiod, Theogony, 159-182. See above, pp. 36 sq.

  • 18.

    Homeric Hymns, xxx. (pp. 296 sq., ed. Allen and Sikes).

  • 19.

    Plutarch, De facie in orbe lunae, xxii. 14.

  • 20.

    Pausanias, x. 12. 10. Pausanias here assumes that the priestesses were called Doves. But perhaps he misunderstood a tradition, recorded by Herodotus (ii. 55), that the oracle at Dodona was founded in obedience to the bidding of a black dove, which flew from Thebes in Egypt to Dodona, and there, perching on an oak, spoke with a human voice. Compare my note on Pausanias, vii. 21. 3 (vol. iv. pp. 149 sq.).

  • 21.

    Pausanias, x. 5. 6.

  • 22.

    Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, xvii. (1893) p. 566.

  • 23.

    Aeschylus, Eumenides, 1 sq.

  • 24.

    Apollodorus, i. 1. 5, i. 2. 1, i. 3, 6.

  • 25.

    Plutarch, De Pythiae oraculis, 17.

  • 26.

    Plutarch, De defectu oraculorum, 40 sqq.; Cicero, De divinatione, i. 19. 38, i. 36. 79, ii. 57. 117.

  • 27.

    Pausanias. v. 14. 10.

  • 28.

    Pausanias, vii. 25. 13; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxviii. 147. The two accounts supplement each other.

  • 29.

    Pausanias, ii. 24. 1.

  • 30.

    Pausanias, iii. II. 9, iii. 12. 8.

  • 31.

    Pausanias, viii. 48. 8.

  • 32.

    Pausanias, i. 31. 4.

  • 33.

    Pausanias, i. 18. 7.

  • 34.

    Thucydides, ii. 15.

  • 35.

    Homer, Iliad, iii. 103 sq.

  • 36.

    G. Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum3, No. 1024, vol. iii. p. 174; Ch. Michel, Recueil d’ Inscriptions Grecques (Bruxelles 1900), No. 714, p. 616; J. de Prott, L. Ziehen, Leges Graecorum Sacrae (Lipsiae, 1896–1906), No. 4 vol. i. p. 14.

  • 37.

    J. de Prott, L. Ziehen, Leges Graecorum Sacrae, No. 26, vol. i. p. 48, col. B.

  • 38.

    Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, iii. No. 166; E. S. Roberts and E. A. Gardner, Introduction to Greek Epigraphy, Part. II. (Cambridge, 1905), No. 245, pp. 465 sq. The epithet Fruit-bearing applied to Earth at Cyzicus is known from an inscription. See L. R. Farnell, Cults of the Greek States, iv. 91, quoting Bulletin de Correspondance hellénique, 1882, p. 454.

  • 39.

    Pausanias, i. 24. 3.

  • 40.

    A. Baumeister, Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums, i. 492, fig. 536; W. H. Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, i. coll. 1577-1578, fig. 2. As to the legend of the birth of Erichthonius from the earth, see Apollodorus, iii. 14. 6.

  • 41.

    Pausanias, i. 22. 3.

  • 42.

    Suidas, s.v. κουροτρόϕος.

  • 43.

    Carpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, ii. No. 481, lines 58 sq.

  • 44.

    Carpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, i. No. 4.

  • 45.

    Aristophanes, Thesmophor. 297 sqq.

  • 46.

    Pausanias, i. 28. 6.

  • 47.

    Hesychius, s.v. Δϵυτϵρόποοτμος, citing Polemo as his authority.

  • 48.

    Homer, Iliad, xix. 252-265.

  • 49.

    Homer, Odyssey, v. 184-187.

  • 50.

    G. Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum3, No. 1212, vol. iii. p. 357; Ch. Michel; Recueil d’ Inscriptions Grecques, No. 1421, p. 939.

  • 51.

    G. Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum3, No. 360, vol. i. pp. 585, 586; Ch. Michel, Recueil d’ Inscriptions Grecques, No. 1316, pp. 875, 876. The Virgin was a deity worshipped in Chersonesus, where she had a sanctuary. See Strabo, vii. 4. 2, p. 308. She had an altar on the acropolis of Chersonesus, and the people celebrated in her honour a festival which included a procession. See G. Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum,3 No. 709, vol. iii. pp. 344, 345.

  • 52.

    G. Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum,3 No. 527, vol. i. pp. 769-771; Ch. Michel, Recueil d’ Inscriptions Grecques, No. 23, pp. 28 sq.; P. Cauer, Delectus Inscriptionum Graecarum2, No. 121, pp. 77 sq.

  • 53.

    W. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae (Lipsiae, 1903–1905), No. 229, vol. i. pp. 371, 372.

  • 54.

    W. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae, No. 266, vol. i. pp. 438-440; Ch. Michel, Recueil d’ Inscriptiones Grecques, No. 15, pp. 9 sq.

  • 55.

    W. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae, No. 532, vol. ii. pp. 198 sq.; H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, No. 8781, vol. ii. p. 1010.

  • 56.

    For details, see L. Preller, Römische Mythologie3 (Berlin. 1881–1883), ii. 2 sqq.; G. Wissowa, Religion and Kultus der Römer2 (Munich, 1912), pp. 191 sqq.; id., “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 331 sqq.

  • 57.

    Compare G. Wissowa, s.v. “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 339.

  • 58.

    H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, Nos. 1954, 3956, 3957, 3958, 3959, 7994.

  • 59.

    H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, Nos. 1522, 3950, 3951-3954, 3960, 5050136, 8008. According to Servius (on Virgil, Aen. i. 171), Tellus was properly the name of the goddess and terra the name of the element of earth. As to the lateness of the designation Terra Mater compared to the earlier Tellus or Tellus Mater, see L. Preller, Römische Mythologie3, ii. 2 note2; G. Wissowa, s.v. “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 332.

  • 60.

    Lucretius, v. 259, “Omniparens eadem rerum commune sepulcrum”.

  • 61.

    Ennius, quoted by Varro, De lingua latina, v. 64, “Terris gentis omnis peperit et resumit denuo”.

  • 62.

    H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, No. 7994.

  • 63.

    Horace, Carmen Saeculare, 29 sq.

  • 64.

    H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, No. 5050136.

  • 65.

    Diodorus Siculus, xxxvii. 11.

  • 66.

    H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, No. 3950.

  • 67.

    Varro, Rerum rusticarum libri tres, i. 1. 5. In this passage the MSS. read Tellus terra mater. But terra appears to be a gloss on Tellus, as H. Jordan observed (L. Preller, Römische Mythologie3, ii. 2 note3). It is rightly omitted by G. Wissowa, s.v. “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 332.

  • 68.

    Macrobius, Saturn, iii. 9. 9-12.

  • 69.

    Varro, quoted by Augustine, De civitate Dei, vii. 23. The passages of Varro bearing on the worship of Earth (Tellus are collected by R. Agahd, M. Terenti Varronis Anti-quitatum Rerum Divinarum libri i. xiv. xv. xvi. (Leipzig, 1898) pp. 212-214.

  • 70.

    Varro, quoted by Augustine, De civitate Dei, vii. 23, “Una eademque terra habet geminam vim, et masculinam, quod semina producat; et femininam, quod recipiat atque enutriat”. Compare Augustine, De civitate Dei, iv. 10. According to C. Pauli, Tellumo is an Etruscan deity. See W. H. Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen and römischen Mythologie, v. 330 s.v. “Tellumo”.

  • 71.

    Martianus Capella, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, i. 49, “Corrogantur ex proxima [regione] transcursis conjugum regum Ceres Tellurus Terraeque pater Vulcanus et Genius”. Here Terraeque pater is perhaps a gloss on Tellurus.

  • 72.

    Varro, quoted by Augustine, De civitate Dei, vii. 23, “Altori quare! Quod ex terra, inquit, aluntur omnia quae nata sunt. Rusori quare! Quod rursus, inquit, cuncta codem revolvuntur” As to these names, see G. Wissowa, s.v. “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's. Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 333, who prefers to connect Rusor with the same root as ruma, rumen, Rumina.

  • 73.

    Ovid, Fasti, i. 673 sq., “Officium commune Ceres et Terra tuentur: Haee praebet causam frugibus, illa locum”. Two lines before the poet used Tellusque Ceresque in precisely the same sense as Ceres et Terra, thus proving that he regarded Tellus and Terra as synonymous.

  • 74.

    Varro, Rerum rusticarum libri tres, i. 34; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xviii. 201-204; Geoponica, ii. 14.

  • 75.

    Ovid, Fasti, i. 657-662.

  • 76.

    Festus, De verborum signifcatione, s.v. “Sementivae”, p. 455. ed. Lindsay.

  • 77.

    Ovid, Fasti, i. 657-662; Joannes Lydus, De mensibus, iii. 6, ed. Bekker; Macrobius, Saturn, i. 16. 6; Festus, De verborum significatione, s.v. “Conceptivae”, p. 55, ed. Lindsay.

  • 78.

    Varro, De lingua latina, vi. 26.

  • 79.

    Ovid, Fasti, i. 671 sq.

  • 80.

    Joannes Lydus, De mensibus, iv. 6 ed. Bekker. According to this author, the first day was dedicated to Demeter in her character of Earth (Δἡμητρι, οἵον τῃ̑ γῃ̑ τῃ̑ ὐποδϵχομένῃ τοὺς καρπούς), but we must correct this statement by the evidence of Ovid, Fasti, i. 671 “Placentur frugum matres Tellusque Ceresque”. So Wissowa, s.v. “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 334.

  • 81.

    Servius, on Virgil, Georg. i. 21, “Fabius Pictor hos deos enumerat, quos invocat Flamen, sacrum Cereale faciens Telluri et Cereri: Vervactorem, Redaratorem [so we must read with Salmasius for the MS. Reparatorem], Inporcitorem, Insitorem, Obaratorem, Occatorem, Sarritorem, Subruncinatorem, Messorem, Convectorem, Conditorem, Promitorem”. Compare G. Wissowa, s.v. “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 334. Servius, or his authority Fabius Pictor, does not mention which of the Flamens was charged with the duty of offering this sacrifice to Earth and Ceres, but we may safely conclude that it was the Flamen Cerialis, whose existence at Rome is known from at least one inscription. See H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, No. 1447, compare No. 9011.

  • 82.

    These minor divinities were the Di Indigites. For a formidable list of them see R. Peter, s.v. “Indigitamenta”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, ii. 129 sqq.

  • 83.

    Pliny, Nat. Hist. ii. 16.

  • 84.

    Petronius, Satyricon, 16.

  • 85.

    Augustine, De civitate Dei, iv. 8.

  • 86.

    Ovid, Fasti, iv. 629-634; Varro, De lingua, latina, vi. 15; Festus, De verborum significatione, s.v. “Fordicis”, p. 74, ed. Lindsay. Another form of the name of the festival was Fordicalia, Hordicalia, or Hordicalia, the two latter being derived from horda, a different dialectical form of forda, “pregnant”. See Varro, Rerum rusticarum libri tres. ii. 5. 6; Festus, s.v. “Horda,” p. 91, ed. Lindsay; Joannes Lydus, De mensibus, iv. 49, ed. Bekker.

  • 87.

    Ovid, Fasti, iv. 635 sq.

  • 88.

    Ovid, Fasti, iv. 637-640, 721-735.

  • 89.

    Festus, De verborum significatione, svv. “October equus” and “Panibus”, pp. 190, 191, 246, ed. Lindsay; Polybius, xii. 48; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, 97. Compare W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Forschungen (Strassburg, 1884), pp. 156 sqq.; The Golden Bough, Part V. Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, ii. 42 sqq. Plutarch wrongly places the sacrifice on the Ides of December (13th December) instead of on the Ides of October (15th October). The name of the sacrifice (the October horse) would be conclusive against this date, and the exact day of October (the Ides) is mentioned by Festus (p. 246, ed. Lindsay).

  • 90.

    Festus, De significatione verborum, s.v. “October equus”, p. 190, ed. Lindsay; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, 97.

  • 91.

    Polybius, xii. 48.

  • 92.

    Festus, De verborum significatione, s.v. “Panibus”, p. 246, ed. Lindsay.

  • 93.

    Festus, De verborum significatione, s.v. “Plena sue”, p. 274, ed. Lindsay, p. 238, ed. Müller; Arnobius, Adversus Nationes, vii. 22.

  • 94.

    Above, pp. 328, 330.

  • 95.

    This seem to be the reason assigned by Festus (De verborum significatione), in a mutilated passage restored by K. O. Müller, p. 238; compare id., p. 274, ed. Lindsay.

  • 96.

    This is recognized by Arnobius, Adversus Nationes, vii. 22, “Telluri gravidas atque fetas ob honorem fecunditatis ipsius”.

  • 97.

    Cato, De agri cultura, cxxxiv. 1; Aulus Gellius, iv. 6. 8; Festus, De verborum significatione, pp. 242, 243, 250, ed. Lindsay.

  • 98.

    Varro, De vita Populi Romani, lib. iii., quoted by Nonius Marcellus, De compendiosa doctrina, s.v. “Praecidaneum”, p. 173, ed. Quicherat, “Quod humatus non sit, heredi porca praecidanea suscipienda Telluri et Cereri; aliter familia pura non est”.

  • 99.

    Festus, De verborum significatione, p. 250, ed. Lindsay, “Praecidanea agna vocabatur, quae ante alias caedebatur. Item porca, quae Cereri mactabatur ab co, qui mortuo justa non fecisset, id est glebam non objecisset, quia mos erat eis id facere, priusquam novas fruges gustarent”.

  • 100.

    Aulus Gellius, iv. 6. 8, “Porca etiam praecidanea appellata, quam piaculi gratia ante fruges novas captas immolare Cereri mos erat, si qui familiam funestam aut non purgaverant, aut aliter eam rem, quam oportueral, procuraverant”.

  • 101.

    The Golden Bough, Part V. Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, ii. 48 sqq.

  • 102.

    Festus, p. 250, ed. Lindsay, “priusquam novas fruges gustarent”.

  • 103.

    Festus, p. 243, ed. Lindsay, “antequam novam frugem praeciderent”; Aulus Gellius, iv. 6. 8, “ante fruges novas captas”.

  • 104.

    On this sacrifice, compare G. Wissowa, s.v. “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexicon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 335-336.

  • 105.

    Cicero, De divinatione, i. 101.

  • 106.

    Florus, Epitoma, i. 14.

  • 107.

    Aulus Gellius, ii. 28. 2-3.

  • 108.

    Suetonius, De grammaticis, 15; Servius, on Virgil, viii. 361; Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Antiquit. Rom. viii. 79. 3.

  • 109.

    O. Richter, Topographic der Stadt Rom2 (Munich, 1901), pp. 323-325; H. Jordan, Topographic der Stadt Rom em Alterthum, i. 3. bearbeitet von Ch. Huelsen (Berlin, 1907), pp. 323-326.

  • 110.

    Cicero, Ad Quintum fratrem Epist. ii. 3. 7.

  • 111.

    Cicero, Ad Quintum fratrem Epist. iii. 1. 14.

  • 112.

    Cicero, De haruspicum responso, x. 20, xiv. 31.

  • 113.

    Appian, Bell Civ. ii. 18. 126: sqq.; Dio Cassius, xliv. 22 sqq.; Cicero, Philipp. i. 13. 31; id., Epist. ad Atticum, xvi. 14. 1.

  • 114.

    Plutarch, Sulla, 9.

  • 115.

    Varro, Rerum rusticarum libri tres, i. 2. 1-7. That Varro was in his eightieth year when he wrote this treatise is mentioned by himself in the preface (op. cit. i. 1. 1).

  • 116.

    Virgil, Georg. ii. 136 sqq.

  • 117.

    Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, i.2 p. 237 (Fasti Praenestim), with Mommsen's Commentary, pp. 336 sq.; Arnobius, Adversus Nationes, vii. 32. Arnobius mentions only a lectisternium of Ceres, and he omits to give the name of the month in which the ceremony took place, though he mentions the day of the month (the Ides). His omissions are supplied by the engraved calendars (fasts).

  • 118.

    J. Toutain, Les Cultes païens dans l’ Empire Romain, i. (Paris, 1907) pp. 338 sqq.

  • 119.

    J. Toutain, op. cit i. 339.

  • 120.

    J. Toutain, l.c.

  • 121.

    J. Toutain, l.c.; H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, No. 3957.

  • 122.

    J. Toutain, op. cit. i. 339 sq.

  • 123.

    J. Toutain, op. cit. i. 340.

  • 124.

    J. Toutain, op. cit. i. 340 sq.

  • 125.

    Suetonius, Tiberius, 75.

  • 126.

    Sextus Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus, xxxiii. 31.

  • 127.

    H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, No. 8008.

  • 128.

    G. Wissowa, s.v. “Tellus”, in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, v. 336 sq.

  • 129.

    Livy, viii. 6, 8-13.

  • 130.

    Livy, viii. 9-10; Valerius Maximus, i. 7. 3.

  • 131.

    Livy, viii. 10. 11-14, viii. 11. 1.

  • 132.

    Livy, x. 27-29.

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