Rosmerta

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In Gallo-Roman religion, Rosmerta was a goddess of fertility and abundance, her attributes being those of plenty such as the cornucopia. Rosmerta is attested by statues, and by inscriptions. In Gaul she was usually partnered with Mercury but is sometimes found alone.

Contents

Statues

In this relief from Autun, Rosmerta is seated and holds a cornucopia while to the right, Mercury sits and holds a patera.

A bas-relief from Eisenberg (Deyts p. 119) shows Mercury to the right and Rosmerta to the left. Rosmerta holds a purse in her right hand and a patera in her left. The inscription (AE 1905, #00058, see below) allows the figure beside Mercury to be confidently identified. In a pair of statues from Paris, one depicting Mercury and the other Rosmerta, she holds a cornucopia and a basket of fruits.

Rosmerta is shown by herself on a bronze statue from Fins d'Annency, where she sits on a rock holding a purse and, unusually, also bears the wings of Mercury on her head; and on a stone bas-relief from Escolives-Sainte-Camille (Deyts pp. 120–121) where she holds both a patera and a cornucopia.

Inscriptions

Jufer and Luginbühl list 27 inscriptions to Rosmerta (p. 60) from France, Germany and Luxembourg, corresponding mainly to the provinces of Gallia Belgica and Germania Superior. An additional two inscriptions are known, one from Dacia (AE 1998, #01100). The following inscriptions are typical: the first is from Metz (CIL 13, #04311 ) and the second is from Eisenberg:

In two inscriptions (CIL 13, #04683 and CIL 13, 04705, both from Gallia Belgica) Rosmerta is given the epithet sacrum (sacred). This more lengthy inscription (CIL 13, #04208; AE 1967, #00320; AE 1987 #00771) from Wasserbillig in Gallia Belgica associates Rosmerta with the founding of a hospital:

Etymology

The name is Gaulish, and is analysed as ro-smert-a. Smert means 'provider' or 'carer' and is also found in other Gaulish names such as Ad-smerio, Smertu-litani, Smerius, Σμερο, Smertae, Smertus, etc. (Delamarre p. 277). Ro- is a modifier meaning 'very' 'great' or 'most' as found in Ro-bili ('most-good'), Ro-cabalus ('great horse'), Ρο-βιος ('great life') (Delamarre pp. 261–2). The -a ending is the typical Gaulish feminine singular nominative. The meaning is thus 'the Great Provider' and this accords well with her attributes.

See also

References

  • Année Epigraphique volumes 1967, 1987, 1998
  • Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL), volume 13, Tres Galliae
  • Delamarre, X. (2003). Dictionaire de la Langue Gauloise. 2nd edition. Paris, Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-237-6
  • Deyts, S. (1992) Images des dieux de la gaule. Paris, Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-067-5
  • Jufer, N. and T. Luginbühl (2001) Répertoire des dieux gaulois. Paris, Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-200-7

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