Vertumnus

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In Roman mythology, Vertumnus — also Vortumnus or Vertimnus — is the god of seasons, change[1] and plant growth, as well as gardens and fruit trees. He could change his form at will; using this power, according to Ovid's Metamorphoses (xiv), he tricked Pomona into talking to him by disguising himself as an old woman and gaining entry to her orchard, then using a narrative warning of the dangers of rejecting a suitor (the embedded tale of Iphis and Anaxarete) to seduce her. The tale of Vertumnus and Pomona was the only purely Latin tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses.[2]

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Roman cult and possible Etruscan origin

Varro was convinced that Vortumnus was Etruscan, and a major god.[3] Vertumnus' cult arrived in Rome around 300 BC, and a temple to him was constructed on the Aventine Hill by 264 BC, the date of the fall of Volsinii (Etruscan Velzna) to the Romans. Propertius also asserts that the god was Etruscan, and came from Volsinii.

The name Vortumnus appears to derive from Etruscan Voltumna. It was likely then further contaminated in popular etymology[4] by a pre-existing Latin word vertēre meaning "to change", hence the alternative form, Vertumnus.[citation needed]

Sextus Propertius refers to a bronze statue of Vortumnus[5] that replaced an ancient wooden statue that was placed in a simple shrine called the signum Vortumni, located at the Vicus Tuscus near the Forum Romanum[6] and decorated according to the changing seasons. The base of the statue was discovered in 1549, perhaps still in situ, but has since been lost. Its inscription referred to a restoration to the statue made in the early 4th century AD: VORTUMNUS TEMPORIBUS DIOCLETIANI ET MAXIMIANI[7][8].

Vortumnus' festival was called the Vertumnalia and was held 13 August.[9]

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