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Mosaic of the Minerva of Peace (detail), Elihu Vedder, 1896 (Library of Congress)

Ancient Roman religion

Bacchian rite, from the Villa of the Mysteries

Main doctrines

Polytheism & numen
Imperial cult · Festivals


Temples · Funerals
Votive offerings · Animal sacrifice

Apollo · Ceres · Diana · Juno
Jupiter · Mars · Mercury · Minerva
Neptune · Venus · Vesta · Vulcan

Other major deities

Divus Augustus · Divus Julius · Fortuna
The Lares · Quirinus · Pluto · Sol Invictus

Lesser deities

Adranus · Averrunci · Averruncus
Bellona · Bona Dea · Bromius
Caelus · Castor and Pollux · Clitunno
Cupid · Dis Pater · Faunus · Glycon
Inuus · Lupercus


Sibylline Books · Sibylline oracles
Aeneid · Metamorphoses
The Golden Ass

See also

Decline and persecution
Nova Roma
Greek polytheism

Minerva (Menrfa, or Menrva) was the Roman goddess whom Hellenizing Romans from the second century BC onwards equated with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the inventor of music.[1] She is often depicted with an owl, her sacred creature and, through this connection, a symbol of wisdom.

This article focuses on Minerva in ancient Rome and in cultic practice. For information on Latin literary mythological accounts of Minerva, which were heavily influenced by Greek mythology, see Pallas Athena, where she is one of three virgin goddesses along with Artemis and Hestia, known by the Romans as Diana and Vesta.


Etruscan Menrva

The name "Minerva" is imported from the Etruscans who called her Menrva. Extrapolating from her Roman nature, it is assumed that in Etruscan mythology, Menrva was the goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. Like Athena, Menrva was born from the head of her father, Tinia (Roman Jupiter).

Her name has the Proto-Indo-European mn- stem, linked with memory as in Greek Mnemosyne (μνημοσύνη) and mnestis (μνῆστις: memory, remembrance, recollection). The Romans could have confused her foreign name with their word from the same stem. mens meaning "mind", since one of her aspects as goddess pertained also to the intellectual.

Cult in Rome

Menrva was part of a holy triad with Tinia and Uni, equivalent to the Roman Capitoline Triad of Jupiter-Juno-Minerva. Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter.

As Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and doctors. As Minerva Achaea, she was worshipped at Luceria in Apulia where votive gifts and arms said to be those of Diomedes were preserved in her temple.[2][3]

A head of "Sulis-Minerva" found in the ruins of the Roman baths in Bath

In Fasti III, Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works." Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did she take on the warlike character shared by Athena. Her worship was also taken out to the empire — in Britain, for example, she was conflated with the local wisdom goddess Sulis.

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 was worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno, 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 facing the present-day Piazza della Minerva.

In modern usage


Universities and educational establishments

As patron goddess of wisdom, Minerva frequently features in statuary, as an image on seals, and in other forms, at educational establishments, including:

Statue of Minerva on the Alte Brücke in Heidelberg
Temple of Minerva in Sbeitla, Tunisia
  • Minerva is featured on the seals and logos of many institutions of higher learning:
  • Minerva is also the name of the oldest student-association of Leiden, the Netherlands (Leiden University).
  • Minerva decorates the keystone over the main entrance to the Boston Public Library beneath the words, "Free to all." BPL was the original public-financed library in America and, with all other libraries, is the long-term memory of the human race.
  • The annual prize for the best Politics student in Liverpool Hope University in the UK is called the Minerva Prize, both because of the association with wisdom and knowledge and because there is a statue of Minerva on the dome of Liverpool Town Hall, the seat of local politics in the city.
  • Minerva is the Goddess of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Fraternity Brothers are known as Loyal Sons of Minerva.
  • Minerva is the name of a remote learning facility at Bath Spa University in England, UK.
  • Minerva is featured on the seal of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
  • Minerva is featured on the seal of the "Escuela Comercial Cámara de Comercio", in Mexico, founded in 1923.
  • A statue of Minerva stands in the entrance to Main Building at Wells College in Aurora, NY. On the last day of spring semester classes, graduating seniors kiss Minerva's feet for luck and lifelong wisdom.
  • Minerva is the patroness of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Minerva is featured in the logo of The Mac.Robertson Girls' High School, Australia.
  • Minerva is featured in the logo of Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Minerva is featured on the seals of many schools and colleges: on that of Union College in Schenectady, NY, the motto is (translated from the French) "Under the laws of Minerva, we are all brothers."
  • Minerva is the patroness of the Union Philosophical Society of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
  • The Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut, features a Roman marble statue of Minerva in its 4th floor atrium.
  • The Minerva head is displayed outside The Natural History Museum, Bergen, Norway
  • The seal for the University of Louisville includes a large head of Minerva.

Societies and governmental use

  • The Minerva head has been associated with the Chartered Society of Designers since its inception in 1930 and has been redefined several times during the history of the Society by notable graphic designers. The current logo was established in 1983.
The Great Seal of California
Medal of Honor
  • The Seal of California depicts the Goddess Minerva having sprung full grown from the brain of Jupiter. This was interpreted as analogous to the political birth of the State of California without having gone through the probation period of being a Territory.
  • In the early 20th century, Manuel José Estrada Cabrera, President of Guatemala, tried to promote a "Cult 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 honor of the goddess of learning. Later, this title was adopted for the first initiation of Aleister Crowley's OTO rituals.
  • Minerva is the logo of the world famous German "Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science" (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)
  • The helmet of Minerva serves as the crest of the distinctive unit insignia for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
  • Minerva is displayed on the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government.
  • A large mozaic of Menerva is the focal art piece in the great room of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Public monuments and places

The Minerva Roundabout in Guadalajara, Mexico


In Popular Culture

See also

Footnotes and references

Secondary sources

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1870). See page 1090

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Minerva [1] is a village in Stark County, Carroll County, and Columbiana County, Ohio.

  • U.S. Route 30. Route 30 also runs through Minerva. It heads to Canton in the west and Pittsburgh in the east.
  • State Route 183 begins in East Sparta and ends near Edinburg. SR 183 runs North and South through Minerva.
  • Treasure hunt. The legend of the "lost gold" began in the late 1700's during the French and Indian War. Presumably, a group of French soldiers were transporting a large amount of gold and silver when they came across a group of British soldiers. They buried the gold and noted the nearby landmarks. The French never returned to retrieve their loot. The landmarks, such as a deer carved into a tree and another tree with a rock in it's branch, were found in Minerva, and people have been searching for the gold since the 1830's. If you plan on doing some treasure hunting, rumor has it that the gold is buried southwest of Augusta Road and Ridge Road.
  • Lost Gold Festival. End of September. Free.  edit
  • Minerva Bowl, 917 E Lincolnway, +1 330-868-5210.  edit
  • Minerva Skating Rink, 119 Park Ave, +1 330-868-4811.  edit
  • Minerva Cheese Factory, 430 Radloff Ave, +1 330-868-4196. M-Tu & Th-F Noon-6PM, W & Sa 9AM-3PM.  edit
  • Minerva Music Center, 119 N Market St, +1 330-868-5708. Wide selection of musical instruments and sheet music.  edit
  • Mezzalunas Italian Grill, 301 W Lincolnway, +1 330-868-4100 (, fax: +1 330-868-0673), [2]. Th 4PM-9PM, F 11AM-10PM, Sa 4PM-10PM, Su 11AM-3PM. Dinners $7-15.  edit
  • Minerva Classics 57, 317 E Lincolnway, +1 330-868-3684.  edit
  • Minerva Family Restaurant, 101 N Market St, +1 330-868-3121.  edit
  • Railroad Cafe, 216 Arbor Rd NW, +1 330-868-9975.  edit
  • The Cabin at Glenking, 8105 Magnet Rd., +1 330-895-2212 or 1-877-895-2212 (), [3]. M-Th $87, F-Sa $97 (Per night for 2 people).  edit
  • Minerva Public Library, 677 Lynnwood Dr, +1 330-868-4101 (fax: +1 330-868-4267), [4]. M-Th 9AM-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM.  edit

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MINERVA, an Italian goddess, subsequently identified with Athena. She presided over all handicrafts, inventions, arts and sciences. Her oldest sanctuary at Rome was in the temple built by Tarquin on the Capitol, where she was worshipped with Jupiter and Juno. She had also a temple on the Aventine, which was the meeting-place for dramatic poets and actors, whose organization into gilds under her patronage dated from the time of Livius Andronicus. The dedication day of the temple was the 19th of March, the great festival of Minerva, called quinquatrus, because it fell on the fifth day after the ides. All the schools had holidays at this time, and the pupils on reassembling brought a fee (minerval) to the teachers. In every house also the quinquatrus was a holiday, for Minerva (like Athena Ergane) was patron of the women's weaving and spinning and the workmen's craft. At a later time the festival extended over five days, the last four being chiefly occupied with gladiatorial shows - because Minerva was the goddess of war (Ovid, Fasti, iii. 809-834; Juvenal x. 115, with Mayor's note). The erection of a temple to her by Pompey out of the spoils of his eastern conquests shows that she was the bestower of victory, like Athena Nike, and the dedication of a vestibule in the senate house by Augustus recalls Athena the goddess of counsel (l30vXala). Under Domitian, who claimed her special protection, the worship of Minerva attained its greatest vogue in Rome. The emperor Hadrian founded an educational institution, named after her the Athenaeum. The 23rd of March had always been the day of the tubilustrium, or purification of the trumpets used in the sacred rites, so that the ceremony came to be on the last day of Minerva's festival, but it is very doubtful whether it was really connected with her. There was another temple of Minerva on the Caelian Hill, where she was worshipped under the name of Capta, the "captive," the origin of which is unknown. Here a festival called the lesser quinquatrus was celebrated on the 13th-14th of June, chiefly by the flute-players (Livy ix. 30; Ovid, Fasti, vi. 651). As the Romans learnt the use of the flute from the Etruscans, the fact of Minerva being the patron goddess of flute-players is in favour of her Etruscan origin, although it may merely be a reminiscence of the Greek story which attributed the invention of the flute to Athena. A carved image of the goddess called the Palladium, said to have been brought from Troy to Lavinium, and thence to Rome by the family of the Nautii, was kept in the temple of Vesta and carefully guarded as necessary to the prosperity of the city. The older form of the name Minerva is Menerva (= Menes-va, Gr. µ vos); it probably means "thinker."

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




from PIE *men-es-wah2, extended from the PIE stem men-s- "mind" (Sanskrit manas, compare manas-vin- "full of mind or sense"), ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European *men- (to think).


Proper noun


Wikipedia has an article on:


  1. (Roman mythology) The goddess of wisdom, especially strategic warfare, and the arts, especially crafts and in particular weaving; daughter of Jupiter and Juno


See also



Proper noun

Minerva f.

  1. Minerva (mythology).

Related terms

Simple English

File:Vienna Parlament
Pallas Athena in front of the parliament building in Vienna, Austria

Minerva was the Roman goddess of crafts and wisdom. The Greeks called her Athena (for the wisdom and crafts), and Pallas for the war part.

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