I will not have time for a longer set of reflections today, unfortunately; however, I am most certainly going to mark this occasion with a short post on the goddess of the day, Bona Dea. You can read more things I’ve written about her previously here and here (the latter of which includes a poem I wrote for her).
I don’t think I have a new poem for her in me at the moment; but, I can give some snippets of text from ancient authors on her–because that’s what everyone wants, right?
For the moment the Good Goddess is my theme.
There’s a natural height that gives its name to a place:
They call it The Rock: it’s the bulk of the Aventine.
Remus waited there in vain, when you, the birds
Of the Palatine, granted first omens to his brother.
There the Senate founded a temple, hostile
To the sight of men, on the gently sloping ridge.
It was dedicated by an heiress of the ancient Clausi,
Who’d never given her virgin body to a man:
Livia restored it, so she could imitate her husband
And follow his lead in everything.
—Ovid, Fasti V.148-158
If you’re hair’s appalling, set a guard at your threshold,
or always have it done at Bona Dea’s fertile temple.
What good’s a guard, with so many theatres in the city,
when she’s free to gaze at horses paired together,
when she sits occupied with the Egyptian heifer’s sistrum,
and goes where male companions cannot go,
when male eyes are banned from Bona Dea’s temple,
except those she orders to enter?
—Ovid, Ars Amatoria III
But as Pompilius was the institutor of foolish superstitions among the Romans, so also, before Pompilius, Faunus was in Latium, who both established impious rites to his grandfather Saturnus, and honoured his father Picus with a place among the gods, and consecrated his sister Fatua Fauna, who was also his wife; who, as Gabius Bassus relates, was called Fatua because she had been in the habit of foretelling their fates to women, as Faunus did to men. And Varro writes that she was a woman of such great modesty, that, as long as she lived, no male except her husband saw her or heard her name. On this account women sacrifice to her in secret, and call her the Good Goddess. And Sextus Claudius, in that book which he wrote in Greek, relates that it was the wife of Faunus who, because, contrary to the practice and honour of kings, she had drunk a jar of wine, and had become intoxicated, was beaten to death by her husband with myrtle rods. But afterwards, when he was sorry for what he had done, and was unable to endure his regret for her, he paid her divine honours. For this reason they say that a covered jar of wine is placed at her sacred rites. Therefore Faunus also left to posterity no slight error, which all that are intelligent see through.
—Lactantius, Divinae Institutiones 1.22
Ave Bona Dea Fauna!