1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Laverna

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LAVERNA, an old Italian divinity, originally one of the spirits of the underworld. A cup found in an Etruscan tomb bears the inscription “Lavernai Pocolom,” and in a fragment of Septimius Serenus Laverna is expressly mentioned in connexion with the di inferi. By an easy transition, she came to be regarded as the protectress of thieves, whose operations were associated with darkness. She had an altar on the Aventine hill, near the gate called after her Lavernalis, and a grove on the Via Salaria. Her aid was invoked by thieves to enable them to carry out their plans successfully without forfeiting their reputation for piety and honesty (Horace, Ep. i. 16, 60). Many explanations have been given of the name: (1) from latere (Schol. on Horace, who gives laternio as another form of lavernio or robber); (2) from lavare (Acron on Horace, according to whom thieves were called lavatores, perhaps referring to bath thieves); (3) from levare (cf. shop-lifters). Modern etymologists connect it with lu-crum, and explain it as meaning the goddess of gain.