Angerona

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In Roman mythology, Angerona or Angeronia was an old Roman goddess, whose name and functions are variously explained. She is sometimes identified with the goddess Feronia.

According to ancient authorities, she was a goddess who relieved men from pain and sorrow, or delivered the Romans and their flocks from angina (quinsy). Also she was a protecting goddess of Rome and the keeper of the sacred name of the city, which might not be pronounced lest it should be revealed to her enemies. It was even thought that Angerona itself was this name; a late antique source suggests it was Amor, i.e. Roma inverted. Sorania and Hirpa have also been put forward as candidates for the secret name. Modern scholars regard her as a goddess akin to Ops, Acca Larentia, and Dea Dia; or as the goddess of the new year and the returning sun (according to Mommsen, ab angerendo = ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀναφέρεσθαι. τὸν ἥλιον). Her festival, called Divalia or Angeronalia, was celebrated on the December 21. The priests offered sacrifice in the temple of Volupia, the goddess of pleasure, in which stood a statue of Angerona, with a finger on her mouth, which was bound and closed (Macrobius i. 10; Pliny, Nat. Hist. iii. 9; Varro, L. L. vi. 23). She was worshipped as Ancharia at Faesulae, where an altar belonging to her has been discovered. In art, she was depicted with a bandaged mouth and a finger pressed to her lips, demanding silence.

Other accounts state that Angerona was the goddess of silence, and that her worship was introduced at Rome to prevent the secret and sacred name of Rome being made known, or that Angerona was herself the protecting divinity of Rome, who by laying her finger on her mouth enjoined men not to divulge the secret name of Rome. (Plin. l. c.; Macrob. Sat. iii. 9.) A festival, Angeronalia, was celebrated at Rome in honour of Angerona, every year on the 12th of December, on which day the pontiffs offered sacrifices to her in the temple of Volupia, and in the curia Acculeia. (Varro, de Ling. Lat. vi. 23; Plin. and Macrob. ll. cc.)



For further reading

  • Hendrik Wagenvoort, "Diva Angerona," reprinted in Pietas: Selected Studies in Roman Religion (Brill, 1980), pp. 21–24 online.

References

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