In ancient Roman religion
Religion in ancient Rome encompassed the religious beliefs and cult practices regarded by the Romans as indigenous and central to their identity as a people, as well as the various and many cults imported from other peoples brought under Roman rule. Romans thus offered cult to innumerable deities...
is a goddess said in differing ancient sources to be the wife, sister, or daughter of Faunus. Varro
Varro was a Roman cognomen carried by:*Marcus Terentius Varro, sometimes known as Varro Reatinus, the scholar*Publius Terentius Varro or Varro Atacinus, the poet*Gaius Terentius Varro, the consul defeated at the battle of Cannae...
regarded her as the female counterpart of Faunus, and said that the fauni
all had prophetic powers. She is also called Fatua
or Fenta Fauna
Varro explained the role of Faunus and Fauna as prophetic deities:
Fauni are gods of the Latins
The Latins were a people of ancient Italy who included the inhabitants of the early City of Rome. From ca. 1000 BC, the Latins inhabited the small part of the peninsula known to the Romans as Old Latium , that is, the region between the river Tiber and the promontory of Monte Circeo The Latins (or...
, so that there is both a male Faunus and a female Fauna; there is a tradition that they used to speak of (fari) future events in wooded places using the verses they call 'Saturnians'
Saturnian meter or verse is an old Latin and Italic poetic form, of which the principles of versification have become obscure. Only 132 complete uncontroversial verses survive. 95 literary verses and partial fragments have been preserved as quotations in later grammatical writings, as well as 37...
, and thus they were called 'Fauni' from 'speaking' (fando).
Servius identifies Faunus with Fatulcus, and says his wife is Fatua or Fauna, deriving the names as Varro did from fari
, "to speak," "because they can foretell the future." The early Christian author Lactantius
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, and tutor to his son.-Biography:...
called her Fenta Fauna
and said that she was both the sister and wife of Faunus; according to Lactantius, Fatua sang the fata
, "fates," to women as Faunus did to men. Justin said that Fatua, the wife of Faunus, "being filled with divine spirit assiduously predicted future events as if in a madness (furor)
," and thus the verb for divinely inspired speech is fatuari
While several etymologists in antiquity derived the names Fauna
, "to speak," Macrobius said Fauna's name derived from faveo, favere
, "to favor, nurture," "because she nurtures all that is useful to living creatures." Dumézil regarded her as "the Favorable." According to Macrobius, the Books of the Pontiffs
The College of Pontiffs or Collegium Pontificum was a body of the ancient Roman state whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the polytheistic state religion. The college consisted of the Pontifex Maximus, the Vestal Virgins, the Rex Sacrorum, and the flamines...
treated Bona Dea
Bona Dea was a divinity in ancient Roman religion. She was associated with chastity and fertility in women, healing, and the protection of the Roman state and people...
, Fauna, Ops
In ancient Roman religion, Ops or Opis, was a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin.-Mythology:Her husband was Saturn, the bountiful monarch of the Golden Age. Just as Saturn was identified with the Greek deity Cronus, Opis was identified with Rhea, Cronus' wife...
, and Fatua as names for the same goddess, Maia
In Greek mythology, Maia is one of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes. The goddess known as Maia among the Romans may have originated independently, but attracted the myths of Greek Maia because the two figures shared the same name.-Birth:...
In his conceptual approach to Roman deity, Michael Lipka sees Faunus and Fauna as an example of a characteristically Roman tendency to form gender-complementary pairs within a sphere of functionality. The male-female figures never have equal prominence, and one partner (not always the female) seems to have been modeled on the other. An Oscan dedication naming Fatuveís
, genitive singular), found at Aeclanum
Aeclanum was an ancient town of Samnium, southern Italy, c. 25 km east-southeast of Beneventum, on the Via Appia ....
Irpinia is a region of the Apennine Mountains around Avellino, a town in Campania, South Italy about 40 km east of Naples...
, indicates that the concept is Italic. Fauna has also been dismissed as merely "an artificial construction of scholarly casuistics
In applied ethics, casuistry is case-based reasoning. Casuistry is used in juridical and ethical discussions of law and ethics, and often is a critique of principle- or rule-based reasoning...