lesbiassparrow: (love is never wrong)
[personal profile] lesbiassparrow
As April is Venus' month, this post is in her honour! (The Romans thought April came from aperio, which means 'to open.' You can see why that got associated with her.)

There were many Veneres (the plural of Venus) in Rome. It made things efficient: you went and offered up to the Venus you particularly needed when your hair was falling out, instead of wasting your time with one who was interested in sewers. The one thing the Romans were is efficient, after all! (This is not a complete list - there's a few I couldn't remember.)

Venus Cloacina. Venus of the Sewer. Her shrine stood at the mouth of the Cloaca Maxima, Rome's main sewer. She was especially revered by water carriers. And, presumably, people with bad drains. (Ironically, she probably started out as a goddess of purification and sexual intercourse. Or purification in sexual intercourse. I can't remember.)

Venus Eyrcina. This one was imported from Sicily and was probably neither Aphrodite nor Venus at the start. She had two temples; at one prostitutes sacrificed to her at the Vinalia, a wine festival. Her other temple was associated with right thinking. I suspect it was awkward if you turned up at the wrong one.

Venus Barbata. Venus the Bearded. This Venus had a cult statue where she was a man. I have no bloody idea what went on with this one.

Venus Calva. Venus the Bald. Dedicated after the women of Rome gave up their hair to be used in catapults during (I think) the Punic Wars. Or it may have been built after the women of Rome all lost their hair and vowed this temple if she'd bring it back.

Venus Libitina. Venus of Funerals. Very popular with undertakers. Her temple was on the Esquiline and you gave her a coin when you buried someone; it apparently was the way the Romans kept track of the population before they came up with the idea of the census.

Venus Victrix. Venus the Victor. Pompey the Great's favourite goddess; she had a temple in his giant theatre complex after he vowed one to her before a battle.

Venus Felix. Venus the Fertile/Lucky (the Romans thought that was one and the same thing). She shared her temple with the goddess Roma (who was not, however, Rome's tutelary goddess - they never told anyone who that was, so you could not bribe her to abandon them. It was probably Flora,* which I find hilarious.) This is the Venus who is the mother of the Roman people and the Julian gens.

Venus Genetrix. Venus the Mother. For Venus the mother of the Roman people. I don't know how she was different from Venus Felix, but she was.

Venus Obsequens. Venus the Graceful or the Bendy. I prefer the bendy title myself.

Venus Mefistis. Venus the Smelly. Actually, I don't know if she had a temple in Rome, but she had ones elsewhere and she's too good to leave out on a technicality.

Venus Verticordia. Venus the Heartchanger. Her temple was built from fines on adulterers and adultresses and was built after a Roman equestrian's daughter was struck by lightening. Her dress was pulled up when she was found (her dad got hit too), and it was such a terrible omen they decided adultery was to blame. She was supposed to keep people faithful (something she never managed herself). (Another story says that the temple was built after a bunch of Vestal Virgins decided that the Virgin bit was not exactly necessary for their priesthood.) There was also some festival of hers where prostitutes all went to the men's baths to bathe. I bet a good time was had by all. There was also (at some other festival) statue washing and bathing by worshippers under myrtle. Plus drinking of a poppy potion. I imagine stoned women washing her statue and then splashing about and whacking each other with mrytle.

Plain old regular Venus was also a garden goddess. On August 19th vegetable sellers had a festival in her honour. There was also a goddess Dea Viriplaca, the 'husband pleaser'. For all those times that the marriage wasn't working.


*Flora had a festival called the Floralia which was also celebrated by prostitutes and lewd performances of mime. Which seems to have been really stripping. Nothing the goddess of flowers likes like stripping!

Date: 2011-04-01 06:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lage-nom-ai.livejournal.com
So many veneres! Delightful! I'd totally give to Cloacina, Calva, and Bendy.

I bet we have Flora to thank for the first pasties! What better to cover up the nipples than a flower blossom?

Date: 2011-04-02 04:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Calva apparently had an exciting bronze wig, so I feel you choose wisely there.

Date: 2011-04-01 10:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
For some reason this list makes me like the human race a little bit more than I have been lately. I'm partial to the bendy Venus too....somehow I've got an image of a Gumby version of an ancient Roman statue. ;)

Date: 2011-04-02 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I adore the fact that you could pick the Venus that was right for you. It makes the Romans seem a little more human.

Date: 2011-04-02 12:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
They would have made a bundle doing hallmark cards. Just imagine the rows and rows of options.

Date: 2011-04-02 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Roman 1: "Grandma always wanted to be a man."

Roman 2: "Right, so it's the Venus the Bearded card for her."

Date: 2011-04-02 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
:::snorfle::: Yes, exactly that.

Roman A: How many kids do they have so far?

Roman B: Ok, perhaps it should be Venus the chaste one for them?

Date: 2011-04-02 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Roman C: Or maybe the Vesta one?

Date: 2011-04-02 11:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
Roman A: Yes, that will work too. And that one comes with music that plays when it's opened....
;)

Date: 2011-04-03 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
But then you have feed the fluteplayer afterwards...

Date: 2011-04-03 12:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
Heh, royalties. ;)

Date: 2011-04-01 11:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allochthonous.livejournal.com
I am entirely intrigued by Venus the smelly. What on earth was she for? Did you pray to her to get rid of body odour?

Date: 2011-04-02 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Venus the Smelly apparently was originally Sulpher Venus, which they used as a fumigant. And what could be better for hiding BO than sulpher?

Date: 2011-04-01 11:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alexandral.livejournal.com
Heeeeeeee! This is so cool too!

Date: 2011-04-02 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
The multiple Veneres of Rome make me so happy! I am glad you like them too.

Date: 2011-04-01 12:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wistfulmemory.livejournal.com
*takes notes for class*

Date: 2011-04-02 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
The class will probably all go for wine festival Venus over all the others. Prostitutes and all!

Date: 2011-04-01 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] queenofthorns.livejournal.com
I am TOTALLY taking notes and bookmarking all these awesome posts of yours :D (FYI, I started reading Livy and I love his style. Or, the style of the English translation - I cannot claim to be reading in Latin!)

Date: 2011-04-02 04:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
There's some lovely translations of Livy out there. And Romans used to accuse him of writing in a Paduan style. Clearly a good style of which they were jealous!

Date: 2011-04-01 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nutmeg3.livejournal.com
Venus the Bendy, goddess of yoga practitioners and physical therapy patients. We loves her, Preciousssss, yes, we do.

Date: 2011-04-02 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Venus the Bendy was probably the first Western yoga instructor.

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