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MINERVA Roman Goddess of Medicine War Commerce Magic
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Example of Authentic Ancient Coin of:

Roman Republic P. Servilius M.f. Rullus moneyer
Silver Denarius  Rome mint: 100 B.C.
Reference: Servilia 14; B.M.C. 1672; Syd. 601; Craw. 328/1
Bust of Minerva left, wearing crested helmet and aegis, RVLLI behind.
Victory in biga (two horse chariot) right, P below horses, P . SERVILI . M .F in exergue.

P (Publice) shows that these coins were struck from the silver withdrawn from the public treasury, and that the issue was therefore a special one.


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

Minerva (Etruscan: Menrva) was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and defense. She was born from the godhead of Jupiter with weapons. From the 2nd century BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the "owl of Minerva", which symbolizes that she is connected to wisdom.

Etruscan Menrva

Stemming from an Italic moon goddess *Meneswā ('She who measures'), the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, *Menerwā, thereby calling her Menrva. It is assumed that her Roman name, Minerva, is based on this Etruscan mythology, Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of her father, Jupiter (Greek Zeus). It is possible that such a goddess was "imported" to both Greece and Italy from beliefs originating in the Near East during the extreme antiquity. The very few extant Lemnian inscriptions suggest that the Etruscans may have originated in Asia Minor, in which case subsequent syncretism between Greek Athena and Italic Minerva may have been all the easier.

By a process of folk etymology, the Romans could have confused the phones of her foreign name with those of the root men- in Latin words such as mens meaning "mind", perhaps because one of her aspects as goddess pertained to the intellectual. The word mens is built from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- 'mind' (linked with memory as in Greek Mnemosyne/μνημοσύνη and mnestis/μνῆστις: memory, remembrance, recollection, Manush in Sanskrit meaning mind ).

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.

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.

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:

  • A statue of Minerva is located in the centre of La Sapienza University, the largest university of Rome.
  • A statue of Minerva is located in the main review pit at the Yale School of Architecture.
  • Minerva is featured in the University at Albany's logo. The catalogue of books and other materials in the University Library at the University at Albany campus is called the "Minerva Catalog". Minerva is also mentioned in UAlbany's Alma Mater:

"Wisdom's duty heeds thy call, Ever in Minerva's thrall,"

Raised-relief image of Minerva on a Roman gilt silver bowl, 1st century BC
Statue of Minerva on the Alte Brücke in Heidelberg
Temple of Minerva in Sbeitla,Tunisia
An 1817 French Empire mantel clock depicting Minerva. Purchased by James Monroe for the White House.
    • American Academy of Arts & Sciences, in Cambridge, Mass. The seal's principal figure is Minerva - a symbol appropriate for an organization created in the midst of the American Revolution and dedicated to the cultivation of every art and science to "advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people."
    • Heidelberg University, Germany's most ancient university (1386), features depictions of Minerva (or Pallas Athene) in the Old University's assembly hall (1785) as well as over the door of the New University building (1931).
    • Max Planck Society, Germany.
    • Leiden University, Minerva is presented in the centre of the great seal of the most ancient University in the Netherlands (1575).
  • Minerva is the name and the patroness of the most ancient student-association of Leiden and was established in 1819.
  • 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 was the only statue that survived the 1888 fire of old Main Building.[8]
  • Minerva is the patroness of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Minerva is featured in the emblem of Ballarat Clarendon College, Australia, as derivative of the emblem of Clarendon Ladies' College.
  • 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.
  • McGill University's web interface is called Minerva.
  • Milne Library at SUNY Geneseo has a statue of Minerva in their lobby.
  • Minerva is the name of the managed learning environment at the University of Sheffield Medical School
  • Minerva is the name of the main file server at Keystone College
  • Minerva is on the crest of the Girls Day School Trust
  • A statue of Minerva appears on top of the Minerva Building at Dumfries Academy, Dumfries, Scotland.
  • The symbol of Hornsby Girls High School, Australia, is the "Torch of Knowledge" and words of the school song include "Minerva by our southern seas her sacred groves replanted, with whispering gums to woo the breeze that flows o'er lands enchanted; with ageless hills she rimmed her bower, her sunlit shrine of learning, and here we keep through shine and shower the Torch of Knowledge burning..." (NOTE on Australianisms: gums here means "gum trees" (eucalyptus), not a part of the mouth).Here you can see a model of the Torch is still used in events.
  • Minerva is a supercomputer at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City on the Upper East Side.
  • One of the highest positions awarded among the Elder Worthy Sisters of Nu Kappa Beta, the sister sorority of Nu Kappa Phi in the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City, Province of Camarines Sur, Republic of the Philippines, is the title Minerva. The Worthy Sister who wins this title by majority vote of the present Elders in special gatherings is deemed to be the epitome of all the essential attributes exalted by the sisterhood which are Scholarship, Leadership, Character and Loyalty.

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 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 honour of the goddess of learning. Later, this title was adopted for the first initiation of Aleister Crowley'sOTO rituals.
  • Minerva is the logo of the world famous German "Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science" (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)
  • The Minerva was a prominent Belgian luxury automobile manufactured from 1902 until 1938.
  • 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 mosaic of Minerva is the focal art piece in the great room of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Minerva Institute of Management& Technology Dehradun, Uttarakhand. (India)an institute of Professional courses like- Animation & Multimedia, Fashion Technology and Mass Communication was established in 2009 affiliated to Uttarakhand Teacnical University.

  • The Minerva Ward is an elderly care rehab ward at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, it opened in January 2013

Public monuments, places and modern culture

The Minerva Roundabout inGuadalajara, Mexico
The statue of Minerva atop Writers' Building, Kolkata, India.

See also

External links

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