Today it’s all about the god Saturn and a great Roman festival bearing his name, the “Saturnalia” – and it’s a fiery affair.

Here we can see Saturn/Cronos and Zeus/Jupiter. By Anonymous, Public Domain,“>Link

That must have hurt. By Anonymous, Public Domain, Link

Saturn as God had different functions. In Greek antiquity, he is known as “Cronos”, the son of the earth (Gaia) and heaven (Uranos).

By T2000 from pt, CC BY-SA 3.0,“>Link

The picture also shows Pontos and Tartaros, i. e. the ocean and the underworld, which in the broadest sense can be seen as siblings of Saturn/Cronos. He is commonly associated with time, but he also had tasks such as prosperity, agriculture, renewal, freedom…

Over time, these characteristics have become his. It is difficult to reconstruct what its original function was. Perhaps it is right to assume that he – in the broadest sense – was one of the fertility deities, a mixture between Mutunus Tutunus and the weather gods. But that’s speculative.

His relationship with his parents (Gaia and Uranos) and his own children is definitely interesting: Jupiter/Zeus and a large part of the Roman-Greek pantheon.

Gaia and Uranos were the parents of the Titans. Either Gaia has born (and married) Uranos out of herself or Uranos had a father, namely the Aether, who was the son of darkness (Erebus) and night (Nyx). However, the more precisely one deals with them, the more closely one deals with something that is described as a “cosmic egg”, namely the idea (probably of Egyptian origin) that the universe was created from this very object – and then, of course, all these personalized abstractions, such as time, darkness, night, day, etc., are evolving.

Here we can see „Geb“. By Anonymous (Egypt) – Walters Art Museum: Home page  Info about artwork, Public Domain,

However, the question of the origin of hen and egg remains unanswered. Geb is both the name of this goose, which allegedly laid the cosmic egg from which everything originated and its own child (or something that originated from the egg), which was a male Egyptian earth god called Geb. Nut, his heavenly counterpart, was female. (Note the reversal of Gaia (earth) and Uranos (sky) in ancient Greece.)

The idea of a cosmic egg exists in many cultures. Even in the Baltic-Finnish region.

Saturn, as the last son of Gaia and Uranos, made sure that he and his siblings (partly “normal” gods, but partly also gruesome monsters) were able to escape from the Tartaros, where they had been locked by Uranos, fearing that his children would steal his power.

Saturn did this by emasculating his father at the behest of his mother Gaia, as can be seen in the pictures above.

Nevertheless, Saturn experienced almost the same thing, as he – during his reign – also made some mistakes. For example, he did not free his imprisoned brothers and sisters, but let them stew in the earth, what his mother Gaia (the earth itself) did not like so much. She was then also the one who said that Saturn would have problems with his own children.

So, Saturn decided to simply eat his children, as you can see in the following picture.

Von Peter Paul Rubens[1], Gemeinfrei,“>Link

Saturn’s wife Rhea could no longer see this and decided to hide their last child – Zeus/Jupiter – from the voracious father. Zeus thus reached the earth and was suckled by a goat or nurse, who is said to have something to do with the cornucopia.

When Zeus/Jupiter was old enough, he demands his father reigns over heaven and earth and two violent battles, known as Titanomachy and Gigantomachy, erupted, which have been recorded in many pictures.

By Cornelis van and, Public Domain, Link

By GryffindorOwn work, Public Domain, Link

By Guido ReniOwn worksailko, Public Domain, Link

By Ethiop Painter – Jastrow (2006), Public Domain, Link

After these wars, the brothers and sisters Zeus/Jupiter, Poseidon/Neptune and Hades/Pluto divide the earth among themselves. Jupiter gets the sky, Neptune the sea and Pluto the underworld.

There are, by the way, stories of god battles, as well as those of the primeval egg, in many European and southeastern cultures. The Scandinavian Æsir fight with the Vanir, Babylonian Marduk fights Tiamat, Hurrian Kumarbi fights Anu, the Hindu-God Indra fights the Asuras.

For the European Roman-Greek region, the godfighting stories were handed down by Hesiod.

By Gustave Moreau – Gustave Moreau, 1826-1898 : catalogue de l’exposition à Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 29 septembre 1998-4 janvier 1999, à Chicago, the Art institute, 13 février-25 avril 1999, à New York, the Metropolitan museum of art, 24 mai-22 août 1999. Paris : Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1996. ISBN 2711835774, Public Domain,“>Link

We know little about Hesiod, probably he lived in Boiotia in the 7th century B. C., a landscape which got its name from the Greek word for cattle. His most famous works are “Works and Days” and the abovementioned tales of the gods come from “Theogony”.

In “Works and Days”, Hesiod praises the value of work and describes the sequence of human history as a succession of eroding ages.

Saturn is said to have ruled over the golden age of mankind. And from then on everything just got worse. (Silver, bronze, iron…)

This thought was already widespread in antiquity, according to a Babylonian saying from 3000 BC.

“Young people no longer pay attention to age, consciously showing an unkempt appearance, thinking of overthrow, showing no willingness to learn and rejecting adopted values”.

Which may explain some of the current situation. 😉

An is this maybe the reason why, from a mythical point of view at least, the children emasculated and emaciated their parents?

The golden age. Von Lucas Cranach der Ältere – 1. Unbekannt2. Nasjonalgalleriet, Presse, aktuelle Utstillinger i Oslo, Gemeinfrei, Link

In the golden age, when Saturn ruled, according to legend, the celebration of Saturnalia was born. Justin, a historian from the approx. 3rd century AD, writes::

“The first inhabitants of Italy were the Aborigines [ab origine], whose king Saturnus is said to have been a man of such extraordinary righteousness that no one was a slave in his reign or possessed any private property, but that all things were common and undivided, as a property for the use of each one; in remembrance of this way of life, it was decreed that slaves and their masters went to the table at Saturnalia”.

Saturnalia was thus, according to its origins, a feast that was directly attributed to the golden age, in which people lived in paradise with no need to work, as the earth willingly gave them its fruits. Of course, all people were equal at that time and there was no property and therefore no disputes.

In the Roman Empire, there were four great feasts:

The Saturnalia

The Bacchanalia

The Lupercalia

and the festivities around the Goddess Bona Dea.

There will be a blog article of all festivals in the future.

Saturnalia took place from December 17th to December 23rd and therefore overlap to a large extent with our Advent and Christmas season, interestingly enough a time which is also said to be about giving rather than taking.

By Guido Reni – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain,“>Link

Saturn may have had a historical forerunner, an Etruscan God, which is called Satre, almost like a modern philosopher. The Etruscans lived before and at the same time as the Romans, introducing the first kings of Rome., The god Satre was a rather dark, unpredictable deity whose direction was the northwest. He was also important for the visceral examination, a kind of fortune telling method adopted by the Romans from the Etruscans. The Etruscans even had their own interpretation tool.

By LokilechOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0,“>Link

However, this form of divination is much older than the Etruscans, because the Sumerians already made use of it.

By UnknownJastrow (2005), Public Domain,“>Link

Around the year 2000 BC there was a real cult around the viscera, in which the liver, in particular, was of special interest. Several cuneiform tablets were described, which contained precise information about which part of the liver was to be interpreted depending on how it was shaped. At every palace that claimed to be something, there was a “Haruspex” or Barutu (Babylonian). The Aztecs also had similar ceremonies.

If necessary, however, it could also be less bloody, for example in the case of oracle methods with home-grown flour, smoke or oil.

Also the egg is a very popular and widely used oracle, both then and nowadays. (We remember the “cosmic egg” from which everything is supposed to have originated, and his Father-Mother “Geb”.)

I can recommend this wonderful German Wikipedia article about egg oracle to anyone who is interested.

Apparently, this type of oracle method is best suited for the dark season and of course, at Easter.

By Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0,“>Link

Ostara. By Unknown – Transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons. original upload date 2004-01-30. Original uploader was Rumpenisse at de.wikipedia, Public Domain,“>Link

Geb and Nut. Von E. A. Wallis Budge (1857-1937) – The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. II, colour plate facing page 96, Gemeinfrei,“>Link

The woman of Saturn is in most sources called “Ops”, a Sabine goddess for prosperity, harvest, and work. In her honor, there were two days of celebration, a Thanksgiving and a feast held during Saturnalia. There are many parallels to the later Roman cereal goddess Ceres, for example, the cornucopia is a common attribute of both goddesses.

Some sources also mention Lua as Saturn’s wife, who is probably of Etruscan origin. Captured weapons of the enemies were sacrificed to her.

Eventually, Lua and Ops were the same goddesses.

In the ancient Greek variant Saturn = Chronos, Ops/Lua = Rhea. As a mother goddess, there are many parallels to Gaia, Magna Mater, and Cybele.

This is also noticeable in their cult. Rhea was originally worshipped on Crete and she seems to have had some very noisy and sonorous festivals.

By Jacques BlanchardUnknown, Public Domain,“>Link

It is also interesting to note that the name is identical to Rhea Silvia, the woman who was visited by God Mars to create an empire with her. …. Now, Rhea and especially Kybele will be the focus of attention next week.



Come in! 🙂 By Adelino Manuel Pinhe…, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Today, we are talking about the Roman goddess Cardea, who was responsible for the door – and everything connected with it (threshold, handle, hinges, handles).
Her male counterpart was called Forculus and if you write about door deities, of course, the two-faced Janus may not be missing, who is probably the best known one of all.
Perhaps this article opens a door for some readers who have so far never had any contact with mythology. I would appreciate that! 🙂

By Ultima Thule, 1927 – Ultima Thule, 1927, Public Domain, Link

Janus had a temple on the Forum Romanum, which is said to have been built in the time of the second legendary Roman king Numa Pompilius. This king was the successor of Romulus and married to a Sabine. He introduced another important cult (probably of Sabine origin) besides Janus, that of the Vesta.

A brief review of Roman history:
Romulus and Remus, the sons of the war god Mars and the Vestal Rhea Silvia, were found and suckled by a wolf after the death of their mother (she was not allowed to have children as a Vestal).

By Peter Paul Rubens[1], Gemeinfrei, Link
Mars and Rhea Silvia.

By Heinrich Aldegrever – Private collection, Public Domain, Link

According to legend, Rhea Silvia was supposed to be drowned in the Tiber, and a servant was said to throw the children into the Tiber. There are different variations of what happened to Rhea Silvia. Either she dies, or the river god Tiberius mercies her – as it happened to Romulus and Remus.

By Maître aux incriptions blanches, XV siècle – British Library:, CC0, Link

Here you can see very nicely how the twins are found by Faustulus and brought to Acca. Faustulus, a shepherd, and Acca, become the parents of Romulus and Remus.

Romulus kills his twin brother Remus and turns into the first king of Rome. The parallel to the biblical fratricide of Cain and Abel is worth mentioning.

By AnonymousHampel Auctions, Public Domain, Link

As king of Rome, Romulus had a big problem at the beginning: there are a lot of men in Rome, but no women. Romulus decides to get women for the Romans and lures his neighbours into a trap: the Sabinians and especially their daughters.

By Christoph Fesel (1737–1805) Dorotheum, Public Domain, Link
The Sabine robbery.

What initially appears to be a classic women’s robbery may seem a little less drastic, considering that Romulus first asked the Sabine fathers for their daughters’ hands. Perhaps some of them might have fallen for one of the stately Romans?
This is of course very speculative, but it is certain (mythologically “certain”, to be specific) that the female Sabins, as mothers of Roman-Sabinese children, ensured that their husbands and fathers did not continue to war with each other.

By UnknownWeb Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, Link Painting by Jaques Louis David, painted 10 years after the French Revolution (1799).

According to legend, King Numa Pompilius, the successor of Romulus, lived with the Sabinians for a while and brought the Sabine Vesta cult to Rome.

By sv:Constantin Hölscher (1861–1921), Public Domain, Link Im Tempel der Vesta.

There are different approaches to the historical development of Janus (as far as this can be traced back historically at all). Mythologically, his cult is also attributed to the second king of Rome.
Some religious scholars assume that he is a deity of “beginning” and “end”, a kind of “main deity” on which everything else depends in principle. Freely based on Hermann Hesse:”Every beginning has a magic and every end has a new beginning.”

Vesta would then be the “third side of the coin”, a goddess of fire (eternal fire). The initial-and-end God Janus and Vesta can also be found in other cultures, especially in India as Vaju and Saraswati.

By Suraj BelbaseOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link Vayu, a kind of “wind god” who is also connected with the breath (Prana).

By, CC BY 4.0, Link Saraswati with peacock (also a symbolic animal of Juno/Hera).

Relatively complicated and somewhat older, but nevertheless worthwhile are the thoughts of the religious scholars Eliade, Schmitz and Dumézil, who have kindly been included in the Wikipedia article about Janus.

The reference of Janus to a sun god is also remarkable at this point, because he then might be connected with the two solstices in the year and was already known to the Sumerians. Isidor of Seville describes the solstices as “two doors of heaven” (ianuae coeli) from which the sun comes out and enters in again (Etymologiae 13.1.7). Ianua (lat. door) and Ianus/Janus are closely connected etymologically.
From knowledge of the solstices also the mythological figure of the “divine twins” is said to have emerged, which appear in many cultures and in my opinion also reverberate in the double-faced Janus. Or in the history of Romulus and Remus.
Perhaps even in the history of Cain and Abel?
For one of the brethren is mortal, and one is immortal.
Here too one can obtain comprehensive information, though the reference to Australian mythology is missing in both parts (still).

However, E. Smart comes to a conclusion regarding this, which I also would have formulated now. 😉

The temple of Janus had a special function in ancient Rome for centuries.

By Peter Paul Rubens

Whenever Rome was at war, its doors remained open. In peacetime the doors were closed again. It is possible, however, that this practice was an invention of Emperor Augustus, who at the time of his reign boasted of having closed the temple of Janus three times.

If you look at the mythological tales about the god Janus, you will also find a connection to the goddess Cardea, which is handed down by the Roman poet Ovid.

By No machine-readable author provided. Auréola assumed (based on copyright claims). No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public Domain, Link Ovid in Microsoft Paint.

Ovid was a poet – or rather a writer who wrote in verse, as it was customary at the time – who lived in the age of Emperor Augustus. Many of his stories can be found in modern literature (in a modified form). He made it his business to write about love and the art of loving (Amores, Ars Amatoria) But he also collected different mythical stories (Metamorphosen, Fasti) and was finally bannded from his favorite city Rome

The story of Janus and Cardea comes from the part of his work dealing with mythical stories, the Fasti.

Public Domain, Link
Ovid and his sweetheart Corinna.

Ovid was, one could interpret this from his lyrics or look at the quite obvious picure above, a very passionate person, whereby the question always remains, of course, whether he really described himself or let a fictitious, lyrical ego tell. For example: his banishment may never have taken place, but rather was an invention of himself.

By Evelyn De Morgan –, Public Domain, Link Medea.

This “literary fiction” of his exile becomes especially exciting because, according to the legend, the city of Tomis (Tomoi) was the burial place of Absyrtos, the brother of Medea, murdered by her.

So Ovid wrote the following story about Janus and Cardea in the Fasti:
First of all, he notes that the 1st day of the month is dedicated to the goddess Carna, assuming that it is the goddess Cardea. (Probably because the 1st of the month also has a “threshold function”.)
He then calls her “Cranaë” and tells the story of this nymph, who happily hunted in the forests of Arcadia and was occasionally confused with the moon goddess Diana. Whenever a man approached her, she pretended to go with him. “Just find a hidden cave, I’ll be right behind you.”
In this way Cranaë got rid of all the annoying worshippers, for of course she quickly hides in the thicket.
But when the double-headed God Janus asked her, this trick didn’t work, because he could see what was happening behind his back. He overwhelms Cranae in the thicket, which Ovid describes very clearly: “You can’t do anything”,”Do nothing”, he lets Janus repeat twice.
After the deed Janus declares Cardea/Carna/Cranaë to be the goddess over the doorsteps.

The story of “robbery and subsequent idolisation” appears more frequently in myths. For example, with Bona Dea or with Priapus. .

In the goddess Cardea there are probably different deities fused together. Thus, this goddess, if one considers the ovidic reference of her as “Carna”, also finds a reference to the healing deities,
Carna was a goddess for the heart and the human life force, who also had the ability to deter so-called Striges, strange vampire creatures who are said to steal small children. A reproach that was also reported of Lilith.

By cjuneauLa Strige, CC BY 2.0, Link

Cardea, in her function as a door goddess, was able to keep away such Striges. All you need to do is hang a little hawthorn on the door.

By FreddyKrueger 10:43, 13. Mai 2008 (CEST) – FreddyKrueger 10:43, 13. Mai 2008 (CEST), Attribution, Link

Bona Dea

The goddess Bona Dea has been worshipped in Rome since about the 3rd century BC. One of the goddesses merged with her was probably the Greek goddess Hygieia, who was responsible for the health of women – and thus also for fertility.
An animal that is directly or indirectly connected to all these goddesses is the snake. Bona Dea statues and pictures show not only a snake but also (usually) a “cornucopia”, an object that is actually attributed to the goddess Fortuna. This goddess also has a Greek origin (Tyche) and possible overlaps with Bona Dea.
There are further references and connections to Fauna, Ceres, Terra, Ops, Kybele… a blog entry would be worthwhile, but given the extent of this, I will limit myself today to the two first mentioned goddesses: Hygieia and Fortuna and their main attributes, snake, and cornucopia.

On the internet you will find – besides Wikipedia – a lot of information about the goddess and what “de facto” was handed down.

Here are some examples of quite extensive compilations (primarily in German):

One can even find the beginning of a dissertation on Bona Dea and her cult online.

It is remarkable that this goddess is still receiving such a great response – or again (in the age of the Internet) today. This is probably due to the fact that you have relatively much and secure information about her. The Bona Dea temple in Rome was located from the 3rd century B. C. to the 4th century A. D., covering a period of 700 years.

Bona Dea (or Ceres). By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Marble statue of Demeter-Ceres or Bona Dea (The Good Goddess), Nîmes Archaeology Museum, France, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Because the cult was secret, many legends entwine around Bona Dea. Sometimes she is considered the wife of the Faunus, sometimes as his daughter. She was said to be so shy that she never left the house, but got drunk with wine at home because she was so bored. Faunus was furious and beat her to death with myrtle branches. Later he repented of his deed and deified his wife.
As the daughter of Faunus, Bona Dea had it even harder for her own father followed her, and she was only safe from him when she turned into a serpent.
There is also the variant in which Bona Dea is the sister of Faunus.

Aesculapius and Hygieia. By, CC BY 4.0, Link

Hygieia was the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of healing art, and is invoked in the Hippocratic oath. This oath is used in Germany only as a moral-ethical yardstick, but since antiquity and also today in the USA it is also a solemn “oath” in the classical sense, which is read aloud when graduating from medical courses of study.
There are no dramatic stories about Hygieia, but this goddess also has several “own” connections to e. g. Salus, Sirona, or to all these here. 😉

Both Hygieia and Aeskulap (Aeskulap Staff) were associated with snakes as symbolic animals.
In the temple of Bona Dea there are said to have been even tame snakes.

Aesculapian-Stick. By CFCFOwn work, CC0, Link

The snake is a very interesting symbolic animal, its mythical existence even dates back to pre-worldly – paradisiacal – times.
It was the snake who allegedly encouraged Eve to bite into the apple of knowledge and then pass it on to poor, innocent Adam. 😉

Hercules (an ancient hero who will be mentioned below) is said to have strangled with his bare hands two snakes sent by his stepmother Hera/Juno to kill him.

Hercules as a baby.
By Internet Archive Book Images book page:, No restrictions, Link

The fall of man. By KopiersperreOwn work, Public Domain, Link

The Old Testament or the story in the first book of Moses was written in Hebrew, a language in which “the serpent” is masculine. It is called נחשׁ = nâchâsh, which sometimes serves as an explanation for the fact that the snake according to the translation of Seebass turns to the woman and not to Adam.

Adam’s first wife, Lilith, is also often associated with snakes.

Lilith. By John CollierOwn work, Public Domain, Link

That Adam had a first wife is told in the Talmud (a kind of commentary on the Tanach/Old Testament). The story – as absurd as it is true – goes as follows: Since there are two reports of creation in the Bible (once man/woman are created at the same time 1 Genesis 1:27, once Eve emerges from the rib of Adam 1 Genesis 2:26), an explanation was needed. The explanation was: Adam had a first wife, Lilith, with whom he had argued. It was supposedly about which of the two was allowed to have the upper hand (in sex). Lilith wanted to be on top, Adam too, but that didn’t work out, so Lilith decided to abandon paradise and leave Adam to himself. So the story was about who rules over whom or who is in charge.

Adam, Eve and Lilith (the snake). By Hugo van der Goes – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, Link

The core of this biblical story, if you like, can also be found in the goddess Bona Dea. Because their festivities were only open to women – and there is also the peculiarity that the celebrating women refused to give the hero Hercules something to drink (maybe because he killed two snakes as a baby?). Hercules then ordered women to be excluded from the festivities at his altar (ara maxima).
The offerings were also for the first time (?) only addressed to Hercules himself, since no other gods were allowed to be worshipped. In the course of time, rich patrician families at the ara maxima made sacrifices mainly for financial affairs, up to 10% of the profit of the trade was donated. There was a huge banquet, of which Crassus (a very rich Roman who was also an ally of Pompeius and Caesar) in particular, was remembered for hosting the Roman citizens for three months.

Hercules. By SailkoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Hercules drinking. By Massimo Pallottino, The Etruscans, Indiana University Press, 1975 (1st edition: Etruscologia, Milan: Hoepli, 1942).References:Online commentary;Jean Bayet, Herclé, op. cit. p. 150 et pl. IV;A. J. Pfiffig, Herakles in der Bilderwelt der etruskischen Spiegel, 1980, p. 19., Public Domain, Link

The birth of the milky way. By Peter Paul Rubens[1], Public Domain, Link

So the question that arises right now: what did Hercules want to drink at the feast of Bona Dea? ):):):)

Although it seems certain that “Bona Dea” was the goddess for a pure cult of women, Brouwer points out in his above mentioned dissertation that emperor Augustus was possibly also involved as a priest (Introduction, p. XXIII.) It is also noticeable that many men gave or dedicated something to the goddess, e. g. an altar, their desires/prayers, or statues.

At her main celebration, however, only women really celebrated. In three weeks’ time, there will be more information about this.

A goddess with whom Bona Dea is also associated is the goddess Fortuna, in addition to the Hygieia mentioned above.

Here Fortuna in a medieval depiction to the left of the wheel of fortune. By Universidade Federal do Espírito SantoVitória [1], Public Domain, Link

Fortuna (greek Tyche) ancient. By DaderotOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Cornucopia. By bukkOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The cornucopia is also an interesting ancient symbol that stands for wealth, overflow and abundance. The cornucopia is also very often associated with Ceres (Goddess of grain and growth) and Plutos (God of wealth).

It goes back to the nymph (or goat) Amalthea, who fed the little Zeus with the horn of a goat or even was a goat herself. She is also the mother (or wife) of Pan, the god of shepherds and goats.

Zeus/Jupiter immortalized the goat (?) Amalthea in gratitude for his salvation (she had nourished him with her milk/filling horn) in the night sky as a constellation.

Capricornus constellation. CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The cornucopia is also connected with Hercules, because the ancient authors also report that Hercules had broken a horn in his struggle with the river god Acheloos, which then became a cornucopia.

Why Hercules did this is another interesting story.
Acheloos was just as interested in the beautiful Deianeira as Hercules. He fights with Hercules for the hand of the beautiful Deianeira (whose name means “male hater” by the way), turns into a snake and a bull (LINK), but all this did not help him, Hercules killed him.

Thomas Hart Benton (1947) put this fight into the limelight.

By Thomas Hart BentonThis file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of a cooperation project., Public Domain, Link

But also the old Etruscans had a very frenzied look at the problems. By, Gemeinfrei, Link

It even continues. For the history of “Struggle with rivers/beings” repeats itself in the history of Hercules.
When he and Deianeira have to cross a river, the Kentaur Nessos offers to carry Deianeira over. Of course, he does not do this without ulterior motives, for he wants Deianeira for himself.

The beautiful Deianeira and Nessos. – What was Arnold Böcklin thinking of? 🙂 By Arnold Böcklin – 1. pfalzgalerie.de2., Gemeinfrei, Link

Hercules intervenes and wins by killing Nessos. But Nessos had previously planted a ruse in Deianeira’s ear. He advised her, if Hercules should ever become unfaithful to her, to give him a cloak of Nessos, which would guarantee her eternal fidelity.
Many years later, Hercules actually looks around for other women.
What does Deianeira do?
She gives Hercules the mantle, who then (not) dies in wretched torment.

However, she herself thinks that Hercules died (or left) and then kills herself. The parallels to Dido are obvious.

Deianeira in despair. By Evelyn De Morgan[1], Public Domain, Link

Hercules isn´t really dead. By Francisco de Zurbarán – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, Link

As the only son of Jupiter/Zeus Hercules is admitted to the Olympus by the gods. There he reconciles himself with his stepmother Juno/Hera and marries another woman: Hebe, the goddess of the rosy cheeks = the youth. (So no more male haters.)

In fact and with historical certainty, Hercules as God even made it into Buddhism:

He stands with his club on the right behind Buddha.
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link</

Bona Dea – and the goddesses belonging to it – lived and live (?) especially in some female saints.

Saints with the attribute “snake” are among others: Goar, Phillipus the Apostle, Wilburgis, Amandus of Maastricht, Hilarius of Poitiers, Jakobos of the Mark.
These saints have the serpent “only” as a symbol animal, some of them have other symbols, but they have no narrative connection to the animal.

For some saints with the attribute snake there are longer or shorter stories in which the animal appears in a positive or negative light.

Notburga von Hochhausen receives healing herbs from a snake after she loses an arm due to her violent father.

Patrick of Ireland is said to have left the island when he arrived in Ireland. But the last snake in Ireland was lured into a crate by him, promising to release it “tomorrow”. The next day, when the serpent asked for her release, he said,”Tomorrow.”

Thekla of Ikonium refused to marry a “heathen” because she had become a Christian. Since she lived in pagan Rome and was very disadvantaged as a Christian, she was taken to a dungeon full of poisonous snakes, but a ray of lightning killed the reptiles. Thekla experiences some other nasty things, but she is protected by God and does not suffer.

Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Benedictine order, to whom the beautiful saying ora et labora is attributed, should have been poisoned by his own monks. But the poison escaped as a serpent from the cup in which it was found when Benedict made a sign of the cross above it.

The cornucopia does not seem to have made it into the Christian world of thought. However, the prophet Joel (Old Testament) and the Holy Kajetan of Tiene seem to have a cornucopia of filling as an attribute (but without any plot behind it).

Finally, I would like to mention the martyrdom of Christina von Bolsena, who is cared for by snakes after suffering endless pain.
Even today there are festivities in Italy that reenact the fate of Christina. A great article with lots of photos can be found at Bizzarrobazar.  I really do recommend to read it.

The goddess Bubona

Cow Cow and calf. By CgoodwinOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Today’s article could end after a few lines or fill entire libraries. About the goddess Bubona one knows almost nothing, but at least that her name derives from the Latin noun “bos” and that she was the goddess of protection for cattle and herds in the Roman Empire.
The meaning of “bos” contained in Bubona is already fixed with regard to the declension that seems crazy for Latin nouns.
While the common nouns of the 3d declension (or consonantal declension) usually have regular endings to the root,”bos” stubbornly adheres to its ancient Greek  βοῦς (bous)/ βῶς (bōs) and has already driven some Latinists to despair. In addition, the word has two genera, male and female.
„Bos“, in English “bovine” has various subgenera such as aurochs, yak, water buffalo – and from there the path is no longer far to a cow-animal with what is probably connected the most widely ramified mythical storyline at all:
the bull or “taurus”.

Bull. By Benno Adam, Public Domain, Link

Minotauros Minotauros in a modern interpretation. By Stefano.questioli at Italian Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, Link

Cow-animals were very important for the early humans. If you had one, you could say that you were set for life. They supplied not only food and clothing, but also fertiliser, medicine, heat and labour.
Cow dung is still used today to build simpler houses, there is a part of Ayurvedic medicine in which cow dung is used, and if dried properly, it can be used for heating a long time.

Armenien Wall of dung in Armenia. By Rita Willaert from 9890 Gavere, Belgium – Aragat – Armenia, CC BY 2.0, Link

dung Burning dung. By Petrol.91Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The bull in the original sense was called “taurus” by the Romans. In this word you can still see the etymological connection to Mino-taurus. The noun “taurus”, by the way, refers to the sexually matured male cow.

However, the beef – or the bull – did not really gain importance in the Roman era. It is even more likely to be assumed that the religious significance of cattle and other farm animals has diminished since classical antiquity (i. e. with the Greeks and Romans) unless one had a professional relationship with them. For example, as a shepherd who for a long time still worshipped the goddess Bubona.

Hirte und Nymphe Sleeping nymph and shepherd. With Amor. By Angelica KauffmanVictoria and Albert Museum, Public Domain, Link

During classical antiquity, a special literary genre emerged, the so-called “Bucolic” or “bucolic poetry”, to whose main representatives the Greek Theokrit (3rd century B. C.) was the most important. On the one hand, it deals with the idyllic way that shepherds live, whilst on the other hand it makes fun of them because they were not really familiar with mythology – in contrast to the citizens of Polis, where the stories were performed. It caused laughter among the educated citizens of Athens when two shepherds told each other twisted stories of cyclopses and human women, for example.
As a city dweller, one was something better and had moved away from these “profane” things like cattle.
At the same time, the Roman upper class developed an ever finer and more generous desire to eat.

Here is a short insight into a satire of Horace (Satire 2,8 – 1st century B. C.), a Roman humorist who sharply targets the eating habits of the Romans.

Although the guests have long gorged themselves up, the host always serves them more and more delicious delicacies. Among other things:
a Lucanian boar caught in a mildly blowing southwind, birds, mussels and fish, a ragout of echinoderms and turbot, a moray eel in the midst of floating crabs, a disassembled crane, the liver of a fig-fattened goose, blackbirds with tanned skin… and so on and so on and so forth.
The guests then decide to flee together, because the meal becomes a torture, but first loot the wine cellar to avenge themselves.

One of my favourite phrases in Latin: Nos nise damnose bibimus, moriemur inulti. If we don’t get drunk unrestrained, we’ll die unavenged.

So when you are concerned with the goddess Bubona, you cannot avoid questioning your own eating habits or the view of farm animals. In an early age, the cattle was considered to be very sacred to mankind and it is obvious to assume that this also applied to the people who owned many animals (cattle, sheep, goats).

By the way, n the 17th/18th century there was a kind of renaissance of the “Bucolic”, which can be seen in the countless paintings with shepherd and animal motifs of that time.

Van de Velde (17. Jahrhundert) By van de Velde, Adriaen (1636 – 1672) – Possibly afterDetails of artist on Google Art ProjectmwEaSahFiFkfNw at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, Link

From the early cultures of history we know bull and cattle pictures, especially of the Minoans in Crete, who used them to decorate their palace.

Stier Minoan Bull, 1200 B.C. By Olaf TauschOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Wall painting in the palace with typical Minoan bull’s jump. Approx. 1500 BC. By JebulonOwn work, CC0, Link

Stierkopf Famous Minoan bull-head 1500 B.C. By JebulonRéférences/references:ici/hereOwn work, CC0, Link

Minoer The most important symbol of the Minoans – next to the double axe: bull horns. By JebulonOwn work, CC0, Link

But you can go even further back in history and discover:

Altamira Bison in the cave of Altamira (Spain), approx. 15000 BC. By RameessosEigenes Werk, Gemeinfrei, Link

Cow animals were then regarded worldwide as sacred, at least where they existed. Until the 16th century, when the country was colonized by Europeans, there were no cattle in Australia and America.

Cattle Which has changed a little, though. By Peer VOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

A good example of the religious and cultural importance of these animals is India. There the cow appears in the ancient writings of the Vedas (around 1000 B. C.) as the embodiment of the “Mother Earth” Prithivi Mata. A cow named Kamadhenu fulfilled wishes. The blue god Krishna grew up among cowherds, cows then also play an important role in his further life and the companion animal of the god Shiva is the bull.
The animals are still considered sacred there today, but are hunted illegally and transported to slaughterhouses.

Kuh Cow and cow-container containing food for the animals (or garbage). By Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia – Holy Cow Container, India, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

A comparison of Indian and European cow myths would be interesting, one of the best-known Euoprean myths is certainly the story of Minotauros.

Pasiphaë A woman named Pasiphaë and a beautiful bull. By Gustave MoreauOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Pasiphaë Pasiphaë climbs into a dummy cow. By Giulio ROmano –, Public Domain, Link

kleiner Minotauros Pasiphaë – mother of the Minotauros. By Settecamini Painter – User:Bibi Saint-Pol, Own work, 2010-02-06, Public Domain, Link

Minos, the legendary king of Crete and mythical founder of the Minoans, asked the sea god Neptune to help him establish his kingdom.
Neptune then sent him a beautiful white bull, which Minos was supposed to sacrifice. Minos liked the bull so much that he didn’t want to sacrifice it and chose another animal.
Neptune noticed this of course and cursed Mino’s wife Pasiphaë to fall in love with the unoffered bull.
What happened then can be seen from the pictures above.
The famous architect Daedalus, who later also built the labyrinth for the Minotauros, was at that time on the island of Crete and helped Pasiphaë to develop the above depicted “dummy cow” -construction, into which she climbs in the middle picture.

But not only Pasiphaë developed, let’s say, a peculiar sex life. She had cast a peculiar spell on her husband, King Minos, so that when he was with another woman, he would ejaculate scorpions, snakes and centipedes – and kill his loved ones most of the time.

Minos Why do you think Michelangelo painted Minos like that?
By see filename or category – scan: De Vecchi, Cappella Sistina, 1999, Public Domain, Link

The donkey ears are said to signify stupidity, whereby Minos is declared judge of the dead after his own death by Pluto/Hades. The reason for this is the fact that he was a son of Jupiter/Zeus. Hades/Pluto is the brother of Jupiter/Zeus and King Minos, thus something like his nephew. All in the family.

But before all this happened, the child of Pasiphae and the bull, the Minotauros, was locked in a large labyrinth built by the scholar Daedalus (Daedalus and Ikarus).The half man half bull monster is fed with virgins every year and when there are almost no more on Crete, the beautiful king’s daughter Ariadne (the half-sister of the Minotauros) would have been the next victim, but at this very moment the hero Theseus passes by and everything is turning for the better. (Firstly.)
He heads into the labyrinth with Ariadne’s ball of wool, kills the Minotauros and marries Ariadne. But then he has to leave her, for he is to become the mythical founder of Athens.
Apart from the fact that there are unmistakable parallels to Aeneas and Dido Ariadnes fate has not been so bad. She was then found and loved by the cheerful wine god Bacchus/Dionysus.

Theseus Theseus Mosaik. By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Theseus Mosaic, discovered in the floor of a Roman villa at the Loigerfelder near Salzburg (Austria) in 1815, 4th century AD, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

A mythical story that changes from sacrifice of a bull to human sacrifice for the (evil) bull and then the dead of the evil animal.
Why that was the case can only be assumed. Gerd Hellmoodhas written an interesting, profound psychological interpretation of the story (told by Dürremat) in German. My approach therefore would be culturally anthropological.
Considering that the upper classes of the Romans and Greeks were probably starting to consume beef frequently, the myth could also be a subsequent or parallel “explanation” as to why it was okay to deviate from the original, probably only religiously legitimated meat consumption.

However, some of the “holy beef” has been preserved. Cultic bull sacrifices were still a big part of the Mithras cult , Jesus was born in a stable “between ox and donkey”, the symbol for the evangelist Luke is a bull and it took a while until cattle developed into a general consumer good.

Burger. By Fritz SaalfeldOwn work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

MC MC Donalds branches worldwide. There’s only chicken in India. By Ukelay33 and others, see file history – Self-published work by Ukelay33, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Anzahl Filialen Number of branches per million inhabitants. By Karfreitag64Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Last but not least, this can be seen in the existence of the goddess Bubona during the Roman Empire. For even though the goddess does not come along with great significance, she was nevertheless the goddess of protection for cattle and oxen for centuries.

And there are other figures like Cyrene, that can probably be linked to the goddess Bubona.

Cyrene Cyrene. By Edward Calvert (1799-1883) –, Public Domain, Link

Cyrene was a nymph whose ancestors included the Okeanos and the sea goddess Tetys. She was not so much interested in the work of women (weaving and sewing), but rather loved to protect her father Hypseus’s herds with sword and shield against savage animals. The sun god Apollo was so impressed by this, that he fell in love with Cyrene, married her and had two children (Aristaeus and Idmon) with her.
The descendants of Cyrene then became hunters, reached high positions (kings, accompanying the Argonauts, founding cities), but it is striking that both Idmon and Aktaion, the son of Aristaeus, died in hunting accidents.
Idmon was wounded by a giant boar and died. The story of Aktaion, Kyrene’s grandson, is a little more drastic.

Not amused The moon goddess Diana is not pleased when Aktaion she (accidentally?) observes while bathing.

Aktaion That’s why she turns him into a deer. By HaStOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Aktaeon Aktaion is then hunted as a deer by his own companions and mauled by his dogs. Public Domain, Link

Similar to the story of the Minotauros, “wild animals” become dangerous for humans in this myth – perhaps it goes too far, but possibly patriarchal or matriarchal thoughts also play a role here. The story of Aktaion (approx. 1200 B. C.) is considerably younger than that of the Minotauros (approx. 1700 BC)

A few speculative, concluding thoughts:
Like the Minotauros, Aktaion is also a “half” human being, because he is still aware of his state of transformation.
Aktaion is created by the moon goddess Diana, the Minotauros is in the responsibility of Neptune, King Minos` and Daedalus.
Both hybrids are killed.

I suspect that both stories may represent the detachment from the “animal” as something “holy”. Because humans (Minotauros, Aktaion) who are over-identified with animals are being killed.
If we consider the initiators – once it was men, once a woman – then all that remains to be said is that both genders were somehow involved in this development.

Lady Gaga Lady Gaga’s meat concert. By John Robert Charlton[1], CC BY 2.0, Link

The last king


Wanderer above the Sea

By Caspar David Friedrich – The photographic reproduction was done by Cybershot800i. (Diff), Public Domain, Link


Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled over a beautiful and great empire. But he was annoyed because there were around him six other kingdoms, dominated by great and beautiful kings, who did everything else than he did. Moreover, he found that there were far too many subjects in all, and since the subjects moved into a different empire from some areas, whether to work or because they liked the smell of the air, this king decided: only his own subjects should go well, only his subjects were worth living a beautiful life and they should be ruled by him as the only king in the whole territory of the seven kingdoms.

The king sent out his messengers, and they proclaimed the message on every square in every city. But since there were also people from the other realms, or because a paper was lost, or because the wind simply carried the words with it, the kings of the other realms also heard that a king intended to become the greatest and only ruler of the entire territory.
Annoyed, they talked with their consultants.
“We won’t put up with that!”, said ones.
“If we do nothing, we will lose!”, said others.
One came and said, “He who does not fight can still negotiate.”
But then everyone said, “He who does not fight has already lost.”

And so they quickly agreed, especially since every king could count on the support of his population, which suddenly began to surpass each other in the design of arms. The smithies burned, glowing iron hissed in cold waters, the hammers hammered incessantly, and smoke rose into the skies.

The wise counselor, however, began to form a network of advisors working in various kingdoms. And he managed to persuade the advisers of the kings to negotiate as long as they were not yet fighting. Thus, for several years, the advisers held the kings back, while the knights and warlords armed and at the same time sold the weapons among themselves.

“We need this war machine, for others have that”, said the one.
“If we do nothing, we will lose!”, said others.
One came and said, “We must be first, otherwise we will be last.”
And all said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”

This happened in the royal house of the king, who once ruled over a beautiful and great empire whose sky was now covered with smoke-black clouds.
And scarcely had he dismissed the machinery of death from her cage, she sprang over the seven realms, and ate all that was alive. The flowers, the bees, the bushes – and the people.
And when she had grinded everything, she was still hungry and returned to the king, knowing that there were some leftovers.
In one night, she devoured all the subjects of the seventh kingdom, the last counselors, and the entire royal family.
She only spared the king, for she bowed to his desire, which had given her such a rich feast.

Since then the king has ruled alone.


Salve and a warm and hearty welcome to this lovely crazy place!

Did you know, that in Sumerian mythology, the “me” is one of the decrees of the gods that made civilization possible?

As you can see I really do love old things and thoughts like mythology, philosophy, and history, especially when it comes to the question of religion and/or gods. I´ve studied classics and felt always drawn to history much older than the ancient Romans or Greek. Right now, I write about topics I am interested in and mix them all up.

In December 2017 I will publish the remake of an old fairy tale and one of the first love stories of all times “Amor and Psyche”. First it will appear in German, but then I am going to translate it into English (probably summer 2018).

And if you prefer to read in German you can do that on my first blog named “Lehmofen”.