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P. You need not tell me who that goddess is awhom I see adorned with so much finery and gracefulness, so dressed and beautified with flowers. It is Flora, the goddess and firesident of flowers. Is it not?
M. It is true, the Romans gave her the honour of a goddess; but in reality she was a famous strumpet, who, by her abominable trade, heaped up a great deal of money, and made the people of Rome her heir. Particularly she left a certain sum, the yearly interest of which was settled, that the games, called Florales, or Floralia, might be celebrated annually on her birth-day. But because this appeared scandalous, impious, and profane to the senate, as it really was, they covered their design, and worshipped Flora, under the title of goddess of flowers ; and pretended that they offered sacrifice to her, that the plants and trees might flourish.
Ovid follows the same fiction,and relates bthat Chloris, an infamous nymph, was married to Zefthyrus, from whom she received the power over all the flowers. But let us return to Flora and her games. Her image, as we find in Plutarch, was exposed in the temple of Castor and Pollux, dressed in a close coat, and holding in her right hand the flowers of beans and peas. ‘For while these sports were celebrated, the officers, or ediles,
Certe ego de vitulo cinerem, stipulamgue fabalem
*lactant, 1.1 c. 24, b Ovid, in Fastis. « Val. Max.l. 2. c. 5,
scattered beans, and other pulse, among the people. These games were proclaimed and begun by sound of trumpet, as we find mentioned in "Juvenal. Thei, the lewd women came forth in public, and shewed tricks naked. Strange! that such filthiness should be called Flores, and such games Floralia.
FERONIA, the bgoddess of the woods, is justly placed Jicar Flora, the goddess of flowers. She is called Feronia, from the care she takes in “producing and propagating trees. Their higher place is due to her, because fruits are more valuable than flowers, and trees than small and ignoble plants. It is said she had a grove sacred to her, under the mountain Soracte: this was set on fire, and the neighbours were resolved to remove the image Feronia thence, when on a sudden the grove became green again. "Strabo reports, that those who were inspired by this goddess, used to walk barefoot upon burning coals, without hurt. Though many believed, that by the goddess Feronia, that virtue only is meant by which fruit and flowers were produced.
PoMoMA is the goddess, the guardian, the firesident, not of the “affiles only, but of all the fruit and the froduct of trees and plants. As you see, she follows
Digmissina certé Florali matrona tubă. Sat, 6. A woman worthy sure Of Flora’s festal trumpet. b Virg. En. 7. c Feronia a ferendis arboribus dictes d Geogr, l. 5, * Pomona a pomis dicitur.
after Flora and Feronia in order; but in the greatness of her merit, she far surpasses them; and has a priest who only serves her, called Flumen Pomonalis. P. What toothless hag is that, which is so obsequious to Pomona 3 M. It is not an old woman, but a god. I do not wonder that you are deceived, since in this disguise he deceived Pomona herself. When she was very busy in looking after her gardens and orchards with great care, and was wholly employed in watering and securing the roots, and lopping the overgrown branches; *Vertumnus, a principal god among the Romans (called so because he had power to turn himself into what shape he pleased) fell in love with Pomona, and counterfeited the shape of an old grey-headed woman. He bcame leaning on a staff into the gardens, admired the fruit and beauty of them, and commending her care about them, he saluted her. He viewed the gardens, and from the observations he had made, he began to discourse of marriage, telling her that it would add to the happiness even of a god, to have her to wife. Observe, says he, the trees which creep up this wall : how do the apples and plums strive which shall excel the other in beauty and colour! whereas, if they had not “props or supports, which like husbands hold them up, they would perish and decay. All this did not move her, till Vertumnus schanged himself into a young man; and then she be
* Vertumnus à vertendo, quod in quas vellet figuras sese vertere poterat.
b Innitens baculo, positis ad tempora canis. Ovid. Met. 14. With grey-hair’d noddle leaning on a staff.
* At si staret, ait, caelebs sine palmite truncus,
gan also to feel the force and power of love, and submitted to his wishes.
Now observe that great company of neat, pretty handsome, beautiful, charming virgins, who are very near the gardens of Pomona. Some run about the woods, and hide themselves in the trunks of the aged oaks; some plunge themselves into the fountains, and some swim in the rivers. They are called by one common name, "Wymfi.hs, “because they always look young ; or "because they are handsome : yet all have their proper names besides, which they derive either from the places where they live, or the offices they perform; they are especially distributed in three classes, celestial, terrestrial, and marine.
The celestial Mymphs were those genii, those souls and intellects, ewho guided the spheres of the heavens, and dispensed the influences of the stars to the things of the earth.
In Juvenem reddit; et anilia demit Instrumenta sibi : talisque apparuit illi, Qualis ubi oppositas nilidissima solis imago Evicit nubes, nullāque obstante relua it : Wimque parat, sedivi non est opus, inquefigurd Capta Dei Mymphe est, et mutua vulnera sensit. Again himself he grew ; Th’ infirmities of heatless age depos'd : And such himself unto the nymph disclos'd, As when the sun, subduing with his roys The muffling cloud, his golden brow displays; He force prepares; of force there was no need, struck with his beauty, mutually they bleed. b Phurnut, c’Arö tä &s, viz; boysaoz quod semper juve" nes apparent. d A-3 +3 paytiy splendere, quod formz decore praefulgeant. “Ex. Plut. Macrob: Procl.
Of the terrestrial.Wymphs some preside overthewood; and were called Dryades, from a Greek word", which principally signifies an oak, but generally any tree who ever. These Dryades had their habitations in theolo Other Mymfi.hs were called "Hamadryades, for they wo born when the oak was first planted, and when it perio. es they die also. The ancients held strange opinio concerning oaks: they imagined that even the small: oak was sent from heaven. The "Druide, pries: the Gauls, esteemed nothing more divine and j than the excrescence which sticks to oaks. Other; those nymphs were called "Oreades or Orestiades, to cause they presided over the mountains. Otherso fier, because they had dominion over the groves of vallies. Others Limoniades, because they looked aid the meadows and fields. And others & Melie, from* ash, a tree sacred to them; and these were supposed" be the mothers of those children, who were accidently born under a tree, or exposed there.
Of the marine Nymphs, those hwhich preside overto seas, were called Mereides or Merinae, from the sea; ..Wereus, and the sea nymph Doris, their parents; whi JWereus and Doris were born of Tethis and Oceanusso whom they were called Oceanitides and Oceanie. Otho of those nymphs preside over the fountains, and wo called JWahides or Małades : others inhabit the o and were called Fluviales or *Potamides ; and otho preside over the lakes and ponds, and were calledulin nades.
All the gods had Wymphs attending them. Jupite speaks of his "in Ovid, "...Wehtune had many nymph
Half gods and rustic Fauns attend my will,