Definitions

Vacuna

Vacuna

In Roman mythology, Vacuna was an ancient Sabine goddess, identified by Ancient Roman sources and later scholars with numerous other goddesses, including Ceres, Diana, Nike, Minerva, Bellona, Venus and Victoria. She was mainly worshiped at a sanctuary in Tibur near Horace's villa, in sacred woods at Reate, and at Rome.

The protection she was asked to provide remains obscure. Pomponius Porphyrion calls her incerta specie (of an uncertain kind) in his commentaries on Horace. Renaissance authors and Leonhard Schmitz state that she was a divinity to whom the country people offered sacrifices when the la­bours of the field were over, that is, when they were at leisure, vacui.

The etymology of her name is linked to lack and privation, and Horace appears to call upon her in favour of a friend to whom one of his epistles is addressed. From this, it has been conjectured that she was prayed to in favour of absent people, family members or friends.

Period sources

Literary sources:

Epigraphical sources:

  • Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, IX, 4636, 4751, 4752.

References

  • Edmond Courbaud, Horace : sa vie et sa pensée à l’époque des Épîtres, Paris, 1914, ch. 2, § 7, note 16. Online on espace-horace
  • A. W. van Buren, « Vacuna », The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 6, 1916 (1916), pp. 202-204.
  • Elizabeth Cornelia Evans, « Horace's Sabine Goddess Vacuna », Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 65, 1934 (1934).

Footnotes

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