AskDefine | Define Minerva

Dictionary Definition

Minerva n : (Roman mythology) goddess of wisdom; counterpart of Greek Athena

User Contributed Dictionary



from PIE *men-es-wah2, extended from the PIE stem men-s- "mind" (Sanskrit manas, compare manas-vin- "full of mind or sense"), ultimately from the .


Proper noun

  1. The goddess of wisdom, especially strategic warfare, and the arts, especially crafts and in particular weaving; daughter of Jupiter and Juno


See also


Proper noun

  1. Minerva (mythology).

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Minerva, known also as Pallas Athena in Greek mythology, was the Roman name of Greek goddess Athena. She was considered to be the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music.
This article focuses on Minerva in early Rome and in cultic practice. For information on literary mythological accounts of Minerva, which were heavily influenced by Greek mythology, see Pallas Athena where she is one of three virgin goddesses along with Artemis and Hestia.

Etruscan Menrva

The name "Minerva" is likely imported from the Etruscans who called her Menrva. In Etruscan mythology, Menrva was the goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena and to Roman Minerva. Like Athena, Menrva was born from the head of her father, Tinia.
Her name has the "mn-" stem, linked with memory. See Greek "Mnemosyne" (gr. μνημοσύνη) and "mnestis" (gr. μνῆστις): memory, remembrance, recollection. The Romans could have confused her foreign name with their word mens meaning "mind" since one of her aspects as goddess pertained not only to war but also to the intellectual. Minerva is the Roman name for Athena the goddess of Wisdom and Virginity. She is also depicted as an owl.

Cult of Minerva in Rome

Menrva was part of a holy triad with Tinia and Uni, equivalent to the Roman Jupiter-Juno-Minerva triad. Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter.
As Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and doctors. As Minerva Achaea, she was worshipped at Luceria in Apulia where the donaria and the arms of Diomedes were preserved in her temple.
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. Her worship was also taken out to the empire — in Britain, for example, she was conflated with the wisdom goddess Sulis.
The Romans celebrated her festival from March 19 to March 23 during the day which is called, in the feminine plural, Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March, the nineteenth, the artisans' holiday. A lesser version, the Minusculae Quinquatria, was held on the Ides of June, June 13, by the flute-players, who were particularly useful to religion. 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 was worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno, at the Temple of Minerva Medica, and at the "Delubrum Minervae" a temple founded around 50 BC by Pompey on the site of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (near the present-day Piazza della Minerva and the Pantheon).

Minerva in modern usage

Universities and educational establishments

As patron goddess of wisdom, Minerva frequently features in statuary, an image on seals, and in other forms, at educational establishments, including:
  • Minerva is the symbol of the University of Porto.
  • A statue of Minerva is located in the center of La Sapienza University, the most important university of Rome.
  • Minerva is displayed in front of Columbia University's Low Memorial Library as "Alma Mater."
  • Minerva is the name of a female residence at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
  • Minerva is the name of the registration and student records software at McGill University
  • Minerva is the name of a computer science server used by students at the Harvard Extension School.
  • Minerva is displayed to the East of University of North Carolina at Greensboro's Elliot University Center as a statue.
  • The SUNY Potsdam campus in Potsdam, NY is home to multiple statues of Minerva and a cafe named after her.
  • Minerva is featured on the seals and logos of many institutions of higher learning:
    • University of Lincoln. Minerva's head is used as the logo of this UK University. There is a tradition within the Lincoln rugby union team and it is thought they are the Knights of Minerva, each match being won in her honour.
    • University at Albany, The State University of New York. Minerva is the patron diety of the University and secret cabals of upper classmen, professors, and administrators hunt down freshmen to sacrifice in the goddesses honor. Those freshmen who survive the brutal ritual, the exact nature of which is unknown, are inducted in to the society. Those who refuse to join are put through the sacrifice ritual once more. Those who survive and still refuse to join the cabal are expelled from the university on fake drug possession charges.
    • the University of Alabama
    • Union College, New York. Union College has also used Minerva as the name of their new academic and social "Third Space" program, the Minerva House System; and, also here, Minerva is the goddess of Theta Delta Chi.
    • UFRJ, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.
    • Ghent University, in Belgium
    • American Academy of Arts & Sciences, in Cambridge, Mass. The seal's principal figure is Minerva - a symbol appropriate for an organization created in the midst of the American Revolution and dedicated to the cultivation of every art and science to "advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people."
  • Minerva is also the name of the second oldest elite student-association in the Netherlands (Leiden University).
  • Minerva decorates the keystone over the main entrance to the Boston Public Library beneath the words, "Free to all." BPL was the original public-financed library in America and, with all other libraries, is the long-term memory of the human race.
  • Minerva is the Goddess of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Fraternity Brothers are known as Loyal Sons of Minerva.
  • Minerva is the patron of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the largest organization of Black women in the world.
  • Minerva is the name of a remote learning facility at Bath Spa University in England, UK.
  • Minerva is featured on the seal of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
  • Minerva is displayed as a statue in the entrance to Main Building at Wells College in Aurora, NY.
  • Minerva is the patroness of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Minerva is also a symbol of Kappa Kappa Gamma, a sorority.
  • Minerva is the name of the statue on the campus of Texas Woman's University that represents the school mascot, The Pioneer Woman


Public monuments

Footnotes and references

Secondary sources

See page 1090
Minerva in Old English (ca. 450-1100): Minerva
Minerva in Bengali: মিনার্ভা
Minerva in Breton: Minerva
Minerva in Bulgarian: Минерва
Minerva in Catalan: Minerva
Minerva in Czech: Minerva (mytologie)
Minerva in Danish: Minerva
Minerva in German: Minerva
Minerva in Modern Greek (1453-): Μινέρβα
Minerva in Spanish: Minerva
Minerva in Esperanto: Minerva
Minerva in French: Minerve (mythologie)
Minerva in Korean: 미네르바
Minerva in Hindi: मिनर्वा
Minerva in Croatian: Minerva
Minerva in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Minerva
Minerva in Icelandic: Mínerva
Minerva in Italian: Minerva
Minerva in Hebrew: מינרווה
Minerva in Cornish: Minerva
Minerva in Latin: Minerva
Minerva in Lithuanian: Minerva
Minerva in Hungarian: Minerva
Minerva in Macedonian: Минерва
Minerva in Dutch: Minerva (mythologie)
Minerva in Japanese: ミネルウァ
Minerva in Norwegian: Minerva
Minerva in Polish: Minerwa
Minerva in Portuguese: Minerva
Minerva in Romanian: Minerva
Minerva in Russian: Минерва
Minerva in Simple English: Minerva
Minerva in Slovak: Minerva
Minerva in Slovenian: Minerva (mitologija)
Minerva in Serbian: Минерва
Minerva in Finnish: Minerva
Minerva in Swedish: Minerva
Minerva in Chinese: 弥涅耳瓦

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Agdistis, Amor, Aphrodite, Apollo, Apollon, Ares, Artemis, Ate, Athena, Bacchus, Bellona, Ceres, Cora, Cronus, Cupid, Cybele, Demeter, Despoina, Diana, Dionysus, Dis, Enyo, Eros, Gaea, Gaia, Ge, Great Mother, Hades, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, Here, Hermes, Hestia, Hymen, Hyperion, Jove, Juno, Jupiter, Jupiter Fidius, Jupiter Fulgur, Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Jupiter Pluvius, Jupiter Tonans, Kore, Kronos, Magna Mater, Mars, Mercury, Mithras, Momus, Neptune, Nike, Odin, Olympians, Olympic gods, Ops, Orcus, Persephassa, Persephone, Phoebus, Phoebus Apollo, Pluto, Poseidon, Proserpina, Proserpine, Rhea, Saturn, Tellus, Tiu, Tyr, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Woden, Wotan, Zeus
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