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The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 980 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

Nemesis was also an avenging goddess.  She represents the righteous anger of the gods, particularly towards the proud and insolent.

Pan was the god of flocks and shepherds.  His favorite residence was in Arcadia.

The Satyrs were deities of the woods and fields.  They were conceived to be covered with bristly hair, their heads decorated with short, sprouting horns, and their feet like goats’ feet.

Momus was the god of laughter, and Plutus the god of wealth.

ROMAN DIVINITIES

The preceding are Grecian divinities, though received also by the Romans.  Those which follow are peculiar to Roman mythology: 

Saturn was an ancient Italian deity.  It was attempted to identify him with the Grecian god Cronos, and fabled that after his dethronement by Jupiter he fled to Italy, where he reigned during what was called the Golden Age.  In memory of his beneficent dominion, the feast of Saturnalia was held every year in the winter season.  Then all public business was suspended, declarations of war and criminal executions were postponed, friends made presents to one another and the slaves were indulged with great liberties.  A feast was given them at which they sat at table, while their masters served them, to show the natural equality of men, and that all things belonged equally to all, in the reign of Saturn.

Faunus, [Footnote:  There was also a goddess called Fauna, or Bona Dea.] the grandson of Saturn, was worshipped as the god of fields and shepherds, and also as a prophetic god.  His name in the plural, Fauns, expressed a class of gamesome deities, like the Satyrs of the Greeks.

Quirinus was a war god, said to be no other than Romulus, the founder of Rome, exalted after his death to a place among the gods.

Bellona, a war goddess.

Terminus, the god of landmarks.  His statue was a rude stone or post, set in the ground to mark the boundaries of fields.

Pales, the goddess presiding over cattle and pastures.

Pomona presided over fruit trees.

Flora, the goddess of flowers.

Lucina, the goddess of childbirth.

Vesta (the Hestia of the Greeks) was a deity presiding over the public and private hearth.  A sacred fire, tended by six virgin priestesses called Vestals, flamed in her temple.  As the safety of the city was held to be connected with its conservation, the neglect of the virgins, if they let it go out, was severely punished, and the fire was rekindled from the rays of the sun.

Liber is the Latin name of Bacchus; and Mulciber of Vulcan.

Janus was the porter of heaven.  He opens the year, the first month being named after him.  He is the guardian deity of gates, on which account he is commonly represented with two heads, because every door looks two ways.  His temples at Rome were numerous.  In war time the gates of the principal one were always open.  In peace they were closed; but they were shut only once between the reign of Numa and that of Augustus.

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