Who was Minerva? The Roman goddess

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A Roman temple from the forum in Ostia, near Rome

A Roman temple from the forum in Ostia, near Rome. It was probably dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.

Minerva was Jupiter’s daughter for the Romans, the way Athena was Zeus‘s daughter for the Greeks. But Minerva was not exactly like Athena, just as Jupiter was not exactly like Zeus. Her name comes from an older Etruscan goddess, and that comes from an even older Italian goddess Meneswā. Meneswa was a moon goddess. Her name means “the measurer”. So she probably had something to do with measuring out your fate – how long you would live.

A Roman Minerva in onyx, from the 100s AD. Now in the Louvre.

A Roman Minerva in onyx, from the 100s AD. Now in the Louvre. She’s holding her owl.

By Roman times, Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, like Athena, but she was much more a goddess of strategy in war. Minerva was also the goddess of medicine and doctors.

The Romans often thought of Minerva as part of a group of three gods, JupiterJuno, and Minerva. They seem to have gotten this idea from the Etruscans. Many Etruscan and Roman temples were dedicated to all three of these gods together.

Bibliography and further reading about the Roman goddess Minerva:

   

Athena
Juno
Jupiter
Etruscans
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Ancient Rome
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By | 2017-09-04T16:32:36+00:00 September 4th, 2017|Religion, Romans|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Who was Minerva? The Roman goddess. Quatr.us Study Guides, September 4, 2017. Web. December 12, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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