Mater Matuta

▪ Roman goddess
      in Roman religion, goddess of the ripening of grain (although the Latin poet Lucretius made her a goddess of dawn). Her worship in Italy was widespread and of ancient origin. Her temple at Rome, located in the Forum Boarium, was discovered under the Church of St. Omobono in 1937. The oldest sanctuary there was built in the 7th century BC. A small temple, first built earlier in the 6th century, was rededicated about 530 BC; this temple was associated with Servius Tullius. The Roman historian Livy, writing in the early 1st century AD, tells that following the capture of Veii in 396 BC, Marcus Furius Camillus (Camillus, Marcus Furius) rebuilt the temple. Livy also reports that the temple was burned down in 213 and rebuilt the next year. The archaeological record tends to support the literary sources.

      The festival of the Mater Matuta (the Matralia) was held on June 11 and was marked by several unusual customs—among them that only free women in their first marriage might take part and that their prayers were not for their own children but for those of their sisters. The goddess was later identified with the Greek Leucothea, who in turn was identified with Ino, protectress of mariners. Thus Mater Matuta obtained an association with the sea that did not originally belong to her.

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Universalium. 2010.

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