1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Acca Larentia

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

ACCA LARENTIA (not Laurentia), in Roman legend, the wife of the shepherd Faustulus, who saved the lives of the twins Romulus and Remus after they had been thrown into the Tiber. She had twelve sons, and on the death of one of them Romulus took his place, and with the remaining eleven founded the college of the Arval brothers (Fratres Arvales). The tradition that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a wolf has been explained by the suggestion that Larentia was called lupa ("courtesan", literally "she-wolf") on account of her immoral character (Livy i. 4; Ovid, Fasti, iii. 55). According to another account, Larentia was a beautiful girl, whom Hercules won in a game of dice (Macrobius i. 10; Plutarch, Romulus, 4, 5, Quaest. Rom. 35; Aulus Gellius vi. 7). The god advised her to marry the first man she met in the street, who proved to be a wealthy Etruscan named Tarutius. She inherited all his property and bequeathed it to the Roman people, who out of gratitude instituted in her honour a yearly festival called Larentalia (Dec. 23). According to some, Acca Larentia was the mother of the Lares, and, like Ceres, Tellus, Flora and others, symbolized the fertility of the earth—in particular the city lands and their crops.

See Mommsen, "Die echte und die falsche Larentia," in Römische Forschungen, ii. 1879; E. Pais, Ancient Legends of Roman History (Eng. trans. 1906) whose views on the subject are criticized by W. W. Fowler in W. H. D. Rouse's The Year's Work in Classical Studies (1907); C. Pascal, Studii di antichita e Mitologià (1896).