Volume 3 -

Previous Vol 3 - Next

Tertullian - Ad Nationes - Book II

The Romans Provided Gods for Birth, Nay, Even Before Birth, to Death. Much Indelicacy in This System.

Chapter XI.--The Romans Provided Gods for Birth, Nay, Even Before Birth, to Death. Much Indelicacy in This System.

And you are not content to assert the divinity of such as were once known to you, whom you heard and handled, and whose portraits have been painted, and actions recounted, and memory retained amongst you; but men insist upon consecrating with a heavenly life [953] I know not what incorporeal, inanimate shadows, and the mere names of things--dividing man's entire existence amongst separate powers even from his conception in the womb: so that there is a god Consevius, [954] to preside over concubital generation; and Fluviona, [955] to preserve the (growth of the) infant in the womb; after these come Vitumnus and Sentinus, [956] through whom the babe begins to have life and its earliest sensation; then Diespiter, [957] by whose office the child accomplishes its birth. But when women begin their parturition, Candelifera also comes in aid, since childbearing requires the light of the candle; and other goddesses there are [958] who get their names from the parts they bear in the stages of travail. There were two Carmentas likewise, according to the general view: to one of them, called Postverta, belonged the function of assisting the birth of the introverted child; while the other, Prosa, [959] executed the like office for the rightly born. The god Farinus was so called from (his inspiring) the first utterance; while others believed in Locutius from his gift of speech. Cunina [960] is present as the protector of the child's deep slumber, and supplies to it refreshing rest. To lift them (when fallen) [961] there is Levana, and along with her Rumina. [962] It is a wonderful oversight that no gods were appointed for cleaning up the filth of children. Then, to preside over their first pap and earliest drink you have Potina and Edula; [963] to teach the child to stand erect is the work of Statina, [964] whilst Adeona helps him to come to dear Mamma, and Abeona to toddle off again; then there is Domiduca, [965] (to bring home the bride;) and the goddess Mens, to influence the mind to either good or evil. [966] They have likewise Volumnus and Voleta, [967] to control the will; Paventina, (the goddess) of fear; Venilia, of hope; [968] Volupia, of pleasure; [969] Præstitia, of beauty. [970] Then, again, they give his name to Peragenor, [971] from his teaching men to go through their work; to Consus, from his suggesting to them counsel. Juventa is their guide on assuming the manly gown, and "bearded Fortune" when they come to full manhood. [972] If I must touch on their nuptial duties, there is Afferenda whose appointed function is to see to the offering of the dower; but fie on you! you have your Mutunus [973] and Tutunus and Pertunda [974] and Subigus and the goddess Prema and likewise Perfica. [975] O spare yourselves, ye impudent gods! No one is present at the secret struggles of married life. Those very few persons who have a wish that way, go away and blush for very shame in the midst of their joy.