The name "Minerva" is likely imported from the
Etruscans who called her Menrva. The Romans
would have easily confused her foreign name
with their word means meaning "mind" since one
of her aspects as goddess pertained not only to
war but also to the intellectual.
Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter and Metis.
She was considered to be the virgin goddess of
warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce,
crafts, and the inventor of music. As Minerva
Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and
Adapting Greek myths about Athena, Romans
said that Minerva was not born in the usual way,
but rather Jupiter had a horrible headache and
Vulcan opened up his head and out came Minerva
dressed in armor and holding a shield; this
image has captivated Western writers and artists
through the ages.
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. Minerva is usually depicted
wearing a coat of mail and a helmet, and
carrying a spear.
The Romans celebrated her festival from March
19 to 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. Minerva was worshipped on
the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad
along with Jupiter and Juno. In present-day
Rome, you can visit Piazza della Minerva near the
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.
In Plutarch's Lives: Pericles; Minerva appears to
Pericles in a dream and orders a course of
treatment for an injured citizen of Athens. The
treatment cured the man and a brass statue was
erected in honor of Minerva. Minerva was born
from the head of Jupiter.