1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bellona

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BELLONA (originally Duellona), in Roman mythology, the goddess of war (bellum, i.e. duellum), corresponding to the Greek Enyo. By later mythologists she is called sometimes the sister, daughter or wife of Mars, sometimes his charioteer or nurse. Her worship appears to have been promoted in Rome chiefly by the family of the Claudii, whose Sabine origin, together with their use of the name of “Nero,” has suggested an identification of Bellona with the Sabine war goddess Nerio, herself identified, like Bellona, with Virtus. Her temple at Rome, dedicated by Appius Claudius Caecus (296 B.C.) during a battle with the Samnites and Etruscans (Ovid, Fasti vi. 201), stood in the Campus Martius, near the Flaminian Circus, and outside the gates of the city. It was there that the senate met to discuss a general’s claim to a triumph, and to receive ambassadors from foreign states. In front of it was the columna bellica, where the ceremony of declaring war by the fetialis was performed. From this native Italian goddess is to be distinguished the Asiatic Bellona, whose worship was introduced into Rome from Comana, in Cappadocia, apparently by Sulla, to whom she had appeared, urging him to march to Rome and bathe in the blood of his enemies (Plutarch, Sulla, 9). For her a new temple was built, and a college of priests (Bellonarii) instituted to conduct her fanatical rites, the prominent feature of which was to lacerate themselves and sprinkle the blood on the spectators (Tibullus i. 6. 45-50). To make the scene more grim they wore black dresses (Tertullian, De Pallio) from head to foot. The festival of Bellona, which originally took place on the 3rd of June, was altered to the 24th of March, after the confusion of the Roman Bellona with her Asiatic namesake.

See Tiesler, De Bellonae Cultu (1842).