1

I've been trying to research the roles of the goddesses Adeona and Abeona in Roman mythology, but am having great difficulty finding primary sources, such as the texts of Roman myths and literature. The closest I can find is an extract from St. Augustine's "City of God", in which he is apparently referring to sections of Varro's Antiquities:

What need had women in childbirth to invoke Lucina, when, if Felicity should be present, they would have, not only a good delivery, but good children too? What need was there to commend the children to the goddess Ops when they were being born; to the god Vaticanus in their birth-cry; to the goddess Cunina when lying cradled; to the goddess Rumina when sucking; to the god Statilinus when standing; to the goddess Adeona when coming, to Abeona when going away; to the goddess Mens that they might have a good mind... (bk. IV, sec. 21)

If I understand correctly, Varro's original text is now lost, and Augustine's work may in some cases be the only remaining source of information on what it said. I certainly haven't been able to find any other primary sources (e.g. translations of Roman myths) as to the role of these two minor goddesses.

There are various unsourced claims on the Internet (and even in scholarly papers) which seem to be based on different interpretations of the passage above. Adeona is variously claimed to be:

  • The goddess of returning from somewhere.
  • The goddess of homecomings. (more specific than the above, as the return is specifically to one's home.)
  • The goddess of safe return
  • Someone who presides over bringing children home safely, and who watches them as they travel to/from school.

And Abeona has been:

  • The goddess of departures.
  • Someone who protected children during their first voyage away from their parents.
  • Someone concerned with children "going out" and "coming in" safely.

All of these are consistent with different readings of the Augustine text, in which different aspects of the things he describes them as doing are considered part of their core purpose.

What exactly is known about the roles of these two deities in the Roman pantheon? Have any of the relevant sections of Varro's Antiquities, or any other citable primary source, survived to this day?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.