Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome
Page: 92She was held in the highest estimation by the Romans, and a festival, called the Floralia, was celebrated in her honour from the 28th of April to the 1st of May. This festival was a season of universal merriment, in which flowers were used profusely in adorning houses, streets, &c., and were worn by young girls in their hair.
Flora, who typified the season of Spring, is generally represented as a lovely maiden, garlanded with flowers.
In opposition to Flora we find an antagonistic divinity, called Robigus, a worker of evil, who delighted in the destruction of the tender herbs by mildew, and whose wrath could only be averted by prayers and sacrifices, when he was invoked under the title of Averuncus, or the Avertor.
The festival of Robigus (the Robigalia) was celebrated on the 25th of April.
Pomona was the goddess of orchards and fruit-trees, who, according to Ovid, cares not for woods or streams, but loves her gardens and the boughs that bear the thriving fruit.
Pomona, who typifies Autumn, is represented as a lovely maiden, laden with branches of fruit-trees.
Vertumnus was the god of garden and field produce. He personifies the change of seasons, and that process of transformation in nature by means of which the leaf-buds become developed into blossoms, and the blossoms into fruit.
The change of seasons is symbolized in a myth which represents Vertumnus as metamorphosing himself into a variety of different forms in order to gain the affection of Pomona, who so loved her vocation that she abjured all thoughts of marriage. He first appears to her as a ploughman, typifying Spring; then as a reaper, to represent Summer; afterwards as a vine-gatherer, to indicate Autumn; and finally as a gray-haired old woman, symbolical of the snows of Winter; but it was not until he assumed his true form, that of a beautiful youth, that he succeeded in his suit.
Pales, a very ancient Italian divinity, is represented sometimes as a male, sometimes as a female power.
As a male divinity he is more particularly the god of shepherds and flocks.
As a female deity, Pales presides over husbandry and the fruitfulness of herds. Her festivals, the Palilia, were celebrated on the 21st of April, the day on which the city of Rome was founded. During this festival it was customary for shepherds to ignite a mass of straw, through which they rushed with their flocks, believing that this ordeal would purify them from sin.
The name Palatine, which originally signified a pastoral colony, is derived from this divinity. Her offerings were cakes and milk.
Picus, the son of Saturn and father of Faunus, was a woodland divinity, gifted with prophetic powers.
An ancient myth relates that Picus was a beautiful youth, united to a nymph called Canens. The sorceress Circe, infatuated by his beauty, endeavoured to secure his love, but he rejected her advances, and she, in revenge, changed him into a woodpecker, under which form he still retained his powers of prophecy.