Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

Page: 93

Picus is represented as a youth, with a woodpecker perched upon his head, which bird became henceforth regarded as possessed of the power of prophecy.


Picumnus and Pilumnus were two household divinities of the Romans, who were the special presiding deities of new-born infants.


Silvanus was a woodland divinity, who, like Faunus, greatly resembled the Greek Pan. He was the presiding deity of plantations and forests, and specially protected the boundaries of fields.

Silvanus is represented as a hale old man, carrying a cypress-tree, for, according to Roman mythology, the transformation of the youth Cyparissus into the tree which bears his name was attributed to him.

His sacrifices consisted of milk, meat, wine, grapes, wheat-ears, and pigs.


Terminus was the god who presided over all boundaries and landmarks.

He was originally represented by a simple block of stone, which in later times became surmounted by a [183]head of this divinity. Numa Pompilius, the great benefactor of his people, anxious to inculcate respect for the rights of property, specially enjoined the erection of these blocks of stone, as a durable monument to mark the line dividing one property from another. He also caused altars to be raised to Terminus, and instituted his festival (the Terminalia), which was celebrated on the 23rd of February.

Upon one occasion, when Tarquin wished to remove the altars of several deities, in order to build a new temple, it is said that Terminus and Juventas alone objected to being displaced. This obstinate refusal on their part was interpreted as a good omen, signifying that the city of Rome would never lose her boundaries, and would remain ever young and vigorous.


Consus was the god of secret counsel.

The Romans believed that when an idea developed itself spontaneously within the mind of an individual, it was Consus who had prompted the suggestion. This applied, however, more particularly to plans which resulted satisfactorily.

An altar was erected to this divinity on the Circus Maximus, which was kept always covered, except during his festival, the Consualia, which was celebrated on the 18th of August.


Libitina was the goddess who presided over funerals. This divinity was identified with Venus, possibly because the ancients considered that the power of love extended even to the realms of death.

Her temple in Rome, which was erected by Servius Tullius, contained all the requisites for funerals, and these could either be bought or hired there. A register of all deaths which occurred in the city of Rome was kept in [184]this temple, and in order to ascertain the rate of mortality, a piece of money was paid by command of Servius Tullius, on the demise of each person.


Laverna was the presiding goddess of thieves, and of all artifice and fraud. There was an altar erected to her near the Porta Lavernalis, which was called after her, and she possessed a sacred grove on the Via Salavia.


Comus was the presiding genius of banquets, festive scenes, revelry, and all joyous pleasures and reckless gaiety.