Nam si vos omnibus imperitare vultis, sequitur ut omnes servitutem accipiant?
(Tacitus, Annales XII, xxxvii)

21 Dec 2009


21 DEC: XII Kal Ian NP: SATURNALIA Feriae; DIVALIA ANGERONAE: public sacrifice offered in Acculeian Curia

Religio Romana Roman Calendar

Angerona is a Roman Goddess with an iconography so odd that not even the ancients knew quite what She was about. She was represented holding Her finger to Her bound mouth in a gesture (apparently) requesting quiet. Some ancients believed that She was thus a Goddess of Silence, or that She represented the secret magical name of Rome which was not to be spoken aloud. Or that She was the Goddess of fear and anguish, and could prevent or drive away these feelings. One legend credits Angerona with driving away a disease called angina, which had plagued both men and animals until sacrifices were made to Her.

Her name may be akin to the Latin angustia and angor, two related words that express ideas of narrowness and difficulty. Angustia signifies a constricted place or time, or an entanglement (our word "anguish" comes from it) and was used to refer to the sun's situation at the winter solstice, when the light and warmth of the sun are at their weakest. Angor means choking, suffocation, or anguish (the above-mentioned disease "angina", which in modern times is the name of a heart disease featuring tightness in the chest, is derived from this, as well as "anger"). As Angerona had Her festival (called the Angeronalia or Divalia) on the 21st of December, some modern scholars believe She is the goddess of the winter solstice, who helps the sun get through this dark, difficult period. In this interpretation Her silence indicates concentration or meditation, and Her inner voice that conjures a powerful spell to help the sun regain its strength. Other authors, however, point out that before the calendar was reformed by Julius Caesar, the solstice did not occur on the 21st.

Alternatively, Her name may derive from an Etruscan root, ancaru, defined as "Goddess of Death".

Her statue was found in the Sacellum Volupiae, or the Shrine of Voluptas, the Goddess of Pleasure*, located near the Forum by the Porta Romana, one of the most ancient gates of Rome, which was probably located on the west side of the Palatine Hill. At the Angeronalia, the priests made sacrifices to Her either at the Sacellum Volupiae, or in the building called the Curia Acculeia. The Curia Acculeia was either another name for the Sacellum Volupiae, or else an adjacent meeting-house, as evidentally it was nearby.

Also called: Diva Angerona. Angeronia, the Goddess of the Will and Lucky Moments, is said to be a lesser variant of Her.

Obscure Goddess Directory


* Ay, in the very temple of delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

—Keats, ‘Ode on Melancholy’

Image by Pat Jones, ImagineII

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