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Goddess of youth and rejuvenation
Personal information
ParentsJupiter and Juno
SiblingsMars, Vulcan, Bellona, Discordia, Lucina, Hercules
Greek equivalentHebe

Juventas, also known as Iuventus or Juventus (Greek equivalent: Hebe), was an ancient Roman goddess. She represented youth and rejuvenation.[1] She was mostly the goddess of young men "new to wearing the toga" (dea novorum togatorum) or, men who had just come of age.[2][3][4]

Many associations (collegia) were made for Juventas in the Italian municipalities. They are known because of inscriptions.[5]

Temple and early cult[change | change source]

Juventas owned a shrine in the cella of Minerva on the Capitoline, that most likely was made at about 218 BC. At this time, she was compared with the Greek Hebe. Dionysius[6] and Livy[7] thought that she and the god Terminus "refused" to do the ceremony of reversal (exauguratio) when Tarquin desired to rebuild the temple district on the Capitoline. Even though other gods were moved, these two were part of the new structure.[8] Dionysius also thought that the semi-legendary king Servius Tullius made a temple fund for Juventas, and each family had to contribute to it.[9][8] The thought that she was a part of ancient Roman religion depends mainly on these two aetiological legends, as she is not seen in the early history of Roman festivals.[10][8]

On the advice of the Sibylline books, which were read during anxieties about the Second Punic War, Juventas was part of sacrifices in 218 BC relating to a lectisternium, a public feast at which images of gods were displayed as if the gods were part of it.[11][12] Like other deities whose cult was ordained by the Sibylline books, Juventas was called ritu graeco, following "Greek" rite.[4] Also at the lectisternium of 218 BC, a supplication was performed at the Temple of Hercules. In Greek myth, the divinized Hercules had Hebe as his wife. The cultivation of both deities at the time of the Second Punic War seems intended to reinvigorate men of fighting age: Juventas "was regarded as a powerful divine force rendering a vital gift of strength at a critical moment."[4] This is also the first time the Genius Publicus ("Genius of the People") is written. After the disastrous Battle of Lake Trasimene in April 217 BC, Juventas, Hercules, and the Genius Publicus were excluded for a time from divine honors, as they were not thought to have been effective.[4] Marcus Livius Salinator vowed a temple to her during the Battle of the Metaurus, when he faced Hasdrubal in 207 BC—an indication that Juventas was still felt to have power.[4]

A procession (supplicia canum) in which Romans carried crucified dogs passed between the Temple of Juventas and that of Summanus. A late source dates the "punishment of the dogs" to August 3.[13]

Imperial era[change | change source]

On Imperial coins, Juventas and Spes ("Hope") are often associated with the reigning Caesar. A prayer to Juventas and Spes marked the anniversary of Augustus's coming of age.[14] Juventas was among the many Virtutes ("Virtues") to appear on the coinage of Antoninus Pius.[15]

References[change | change source]

  1. Fears (1981), p. 857.
  2. Tertullian, Ad nationes 2.11
  3. Augustine of Hippo, De civitate Dei 4.11
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Fears (1981), p. 858.
  5. Madigan (2013), p. 99.
  6. Dionysius of Halicarnassus 3.69.5.
  7. Livy 5.54.7.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Fears (1981), p. 848.
  9. Dionysius 4.15.5
  10. Fears (1981), p. 846.
  11. Livy 21.62.9 and 36.36.5
  12. Fears (1981), p. 835, 848 & 851–852; citing also Kurt Latte for the date
  13. Scullard (1981), p. 170.
  14. Fears (1981), pp. 862, 899.
  15. Fears (1981), p. 903.

Bibliography[change | change source]

  • Fears, J. Rufus (1981). "The Cult of Virtues and Roman Imperial Ideology". In Wolfgang Haase (ed.). Heidentum: Römische Götterkulte, Orientalische Kulte in der römischen Welt [Forts.] Vol. Band II.17.2 Teilband Religion. Berlin & New York: De Gruyter. pp. 827–948.
  • Madigan, Brian (2013). The Ceremonial Sculptures of the Roman Gods. Leiden & Boston: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-22723-1.
  • Scullard, H. H. (1981). Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-08-01-41402-2.

External links[change | change source]

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