1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mater Matuta
|←Materialism||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 17
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MATER MATURA (connected with Lat. mane, matutinus, "morning"), an old Italian goddess of dawn. The idea of light being closely connected with childbirth, whereby the infant is brought into the light of the world, she came to be regarded as a double of Juno, and was identified by the Greeks with Eilithyia. Matuta had a temple in Rome in the Forum Boarium, where the festival of Matralia was celebrated on the 11th of June. Only married women were admitted, and none who had been married more than once were allowed to crown her image with garlands. Under hellenizing influences, she became a goddess of sea and harbours, the Ino-Leucothea of the Greeks. In this connexion it is noticeable that, as Ino tended her nephew Dionysus, so at the Matralia the participants prayed for the welfare of their nephews and nieces before that of their own children. The transformation was completed in 174 B.C., when Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, after the conquest of Sardinia, placed in the temple of Matuta a map commemorative of the campaign, containing a plan of the island and the various engagements. The progress of navigation and the association of divinities of the sky with maritime affairs probably also assisted to bring about the change, although the memory of her earlier function as a goddess of childbirth survived till imperial times.
Ovid, Fasti, vi. 475; Livy xli. 28; Plutarch, Quaestiones romanae, 16, 17.