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Date(s) - 01/05/2021
All Day


The first of May was the dedication day of the temple of Bona Dea on the slope of the Aventine. Bona Dea is an earth-goddess and Cornelius Labeo identified her with Maia and Terra, as well as with other deities as Fauna, Ops and Fatua.

Her cult was celebrated by women only: men were rigorously excluded.

We know of the ritual of this festival, thanks to Macrobius. Wine taken into her temple had to be called milk and carried in a vessel called a honey-pot; this suggests an early agricultural function to Bona Dea. The head of the goddess had to be covered with vine-leaves. Many kinds of healing herbs were kept in her temple, as were snakes, which were closely associated with the arts of medicine. Myrtle was not allowed in the temple, according to a myth because Faunus had beaten his daughter Fauna (Bona Dea) with a myrtle-rod. The sacrifice offered to Bona Dea was a sow.

We are also told by Festus that the victim was called Damium. There is a Greek deity named Damia, akin to Demeter.

In general Bona Dea as an earth-goddess promotes the fertility of women.

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