Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Minerva was a Roman goddess of crafts and wisdom. This article focuses on Minerva in early Rome and in cultic practice. For information on mythological accounts of Minerva, which were heavily influenced by Greek mythology, see Athena.
Titles and Roles
The name "Minerva" may come from the Indo-European root *men-, from which "mental" and "memory" are also derived. However, the non-Indo-European speaking Etruscans had a goddess Menrva, so the name may be of entirely unknown derivation.
Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter and Juno. She was considered to be the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music. As Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and doctors.
Adapting Greek myths about Athena, Romans said that Minerva was not born in the usual way, but rather sprang fully armed from the brain of her father; this image has captivated Western writers and artists through the ages.
Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works." Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did she take on a warlike character. Minerva is usually depicted wearing a coat of mail and a helmet, and carrying a spear.
The Romans celebrated her festival from March 19 to 23 during the Quinquatria, the artisans' holiday and a lesser version, the Quinquatrus was held on June 13. Minerva was worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno.
In 207 BC, a guild of poets and actors was formed to meet and make votive offerings at the temple of Minerva on the Aventine hill. Among others, its members included Livius Andronicus. The Aventine sanctuary of Minerva continued to be an important center of the arts for much of the middle Roman Republic.
Minerva in the Modern World
- In the early 20th century, Manuel Josť Estrada Cabrera, President of Guatemala, tried to promote a "Cult of Minerva" in his country; this left little legacy other than a few interesting Hellenic style "Temples" in parks around Guatemala.
- According to John Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy (1798), the third degree of the Bavarian Illuminati was called Minerval or Brother of Minerva, in honor of the goddess of learning. Later, this title was adopted for the first degree of Aleister Crowley's OTO rituals.
- In January 1972, a Republic of Minerva was established on two previously-unclaimed reefs in the South Pacific. In June of the same year, the territory was invaded by military forces from the Kingdom of Tonga, which continues to chase settlers off the disputed islands, at gunpoint. In 2003, the government-in-exile changed to a (non-hereditary) monarchy and renamed the "Principality of Minerva". An "Organization for Minerva Liberation" maintains a website at http://freeminerva.info/
- A European governmental organization named "Minerva" (Ministerial NEtwoRk for Valorising Activities in Digitisation) is concerned with the digitisation of cultural and scientific content.
- Minerva was one of the proposed names for the planet Uranus after it was discovered by William Herschel, but was not widely adopted.
- Minerva was the name of a Belgian auto-constructor based in Mortsel near Antwerp.It was the firm of a Dutch called Sylvain de Jong, born in Amsterdam, who settled in Belgium in 1883. First he made bicycles under the name Minerva, in 1900 he made his first motorbike and ended up making cars in 1904. His first attempts were already made in the late 19th century. He made luxury cars until worldwar II. After the war they tried to make Minerva healthy again. Minerva made in the fifties Land Rovers (with Minerva signs) for the Belgian army. Car production stopped in 1956. See also Minerva Cars.
- According to legend, the Queen of Spades depicts Minerva.
- Minerva is a computer operating system for the Sinclair QL computer. Developed by Laurence Reeves <http://www.bergbland.info/> to replace the original Sinclair QDOS (Quantum Dynamic Operating System, not to be confused with the Quick & Dirty Operating System, that later morphed into MS-DOS). The Minerva Operating System started to appear about 1986. The last version was 1.98.
- The official website of the government-in-exile of the Principality of Minerva
- Organization for Minerva Liberation
- Ministerial NEtwoRk for Valorising Activities in Digitisation
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