4/22/2008

Goddess of the week - Bellona

Name: Bellona
Location: Rome
Sphere of influence: War
Famous statues/portraits: None

Bellona is of the oldest Roman gods. Her name is derived from the Latin bellum ('war') and that was what she was all about. She has sometimes been identified with the Greek goddess Enyo, but they are two different persons who developed without influence from each other. Bellona is too old to be nothing but a copy from Greece.

In the battlefield she accompanied the god Mars, sometimes portrayed as his wife, sometimes as his sister and sometimes even as his daughter. The goddess could be of Etruscan origin and her connection to Mars seems to date back to this time. She was portrayed with a helmet on her head and in the hand she held a torch and a spear.

Her temple at Rome stood in the Campus Martius, outside the city's gates near the Circus Flaminius and the temple of Apollo. There the senate met to discuss going to war at this place - and thrust a spear to declare the start of the war.

Her festival was held on June 3.

This portrait of Bellona was painted by Rembrandt in 1633 and is currently at display at
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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