Minerva and the Muses, by Hans Rottenhammer (1603).

Minerva was a Roman goddess of crafts and wisdom. This article focuses on Minerva in early Rome and in cultic practice. For information on mythological accounts of Minerva, which were heavily influenced by Greek mythology, see Athena.

Titles and roles

The name "Minerva" may come from the Indo-European root *men-, from which "mental" and "mind" are also derived. However, the non-Indo-European speaking Etruscans had a goddess Menrva, so the name may be of entirely unknown derivation.

Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter and Metis. She was considered to be the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music. As Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and doctors.

Adapting Greek myths about Athena, Romans said that Minerva was not born in the usual way, but rather sprang fully armed from the brain of her father; this image has captivated Western writers and artists through the ages.


Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works." Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did she take on a warlike character. Minerva is usually depicted wearing a coat of mail and a helmet, and carrying a spear.

The Romans celebrated her festival from March 19 to 23 during the day which is called, in the feminine plural, Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March, the nineteenth, the artisans' holiday. A lesser version, the Minusculae Quinquatria, was held on the Ides of June, June 13, by the flute-players, who were particularly useful to religion. Minerva was worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno.

In 207 BC, a guild of poets and actors was formed to meet and make votive offerings at the temple of Minerva on the Aventine hill. Among others, its members included Livius Andronicus. The Aventine sanctuary of Minerva continued to be an important center of the arts for much of the middle Roman Republic.

In Plutarch's Lives: Pericles; Minerva appears to Pericles in a dream and orders a course of treatment for an injured citizen of Athens. The treatment cured the man and a brass statue was erected in honor of Minerva

Minerva in the modern world

  • Minerva is the logo of the world famous German "Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science" (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)
  • Minerva is featured on the seal of California because the state entered the union "fully formed."
  • Minerva is featured on the seal of the University of Alabama.
  • In the early 20th century, Manuel José Estrada Cabrera, President of Guatemala, tried to promote a "Cult of Minerva" in his country; this left little legacy other than a few interesting Hellenic style "Temples" in parks around Guatemala.
  • According to John Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy (1798), the third degree of the Bavarian Illuminati was called Minerval or Brother of Minerva, in honor of the goddess of learning. Later, this title was adopted for the first degree of Aleister Crowley's OTO rituals.
  • According to legend, the Queen of Spades playing card depicts Minerva.
  • Minerva is also the name of a song by the band Deftones and also by the artist Ani DiFranco.
  • Minerva McGonagall is the name of a character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
  • Minerva Mink is a character in the Steven Speilberg cartoon: Animaniacs, once considered too sexy for the show.
  • There is an international relations blog named The Duck of Minerva
  • There is a battleship named Minerva in the Japanese 2004 animation Gundam Seed Destiny.
  • Robert Zubrin's novel The Holy Land features aliens who worship Minerva.
  • There is a popular Half-Life 2 modification and storyline called Minerva, located here.
  • Minerva Reef is located in the South Pacific, southwest of the islands of Tonga, of which it is a part. It is above sea level only at low tide. In the 1970s, there was an attempt by several adventurers to declare the independence of Minerva from Tonga by planting a flag on the reef. The king of Tonga quickly dispatched a naval vessel to remove the flag and reassert Tongan authority.

Roman mythology series

Major deities

Apollo | Ceres | Diana | Juno | Jupiter | Mars | Mercury | Minerva | Venus | Vulcan

Divus Augustus | Divus Julius | Fortuna | Lares | Pluto | Quirinus | Sol | Vesta

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