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p101 Carmentis

Article on p101 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.


Carmentis: a shrine of Carmentis (or Carmenta), originally a fountain nymph, to whom were afterwards attributed functions of prophecy and assistance in child-birth. The shrine was at the foot of the Capitoline hill, near the Porta Carmentalis (q.v.), which was named from the shrine, and probably within the limits of the forum Holitorium (Solin. I.13: pars etiam infima Capitolini montis habitaculum Carmentae fuit, ubi Carmentis nunc fanum est, a qua Carmentali portae nomen datum; Serv. Aen. VIII.337: (ara Carmentis) est iuxta portam quae primo a Carmente Carmentalis dicta est; Dionys. I.32: βωμοὺς ἐθεασάμην ἱδρυμένους Καρμέντῃ μὲν ὑπὸ τῷ καλουμένῳ Καπιτωλίῳ παρὰ ταῖς Καρμεντίσι πύλαις). Once it is referred to as sacellum (Ov. Fast. I.629; cf. Liv. V.47, ad Carmentis, and Plut. q. R. 56, ἱερόν); twice as fanum (Gell. XVIII.7.2; Solin. I.13); as βωμοί once (Dionys, loc. cit.); and finally as arae in Varro (ap. Gell. XVI.16.4: huius periculi (i.e. the danger of being born feet first) deprecandi gratia arae statutae sunt Romae duabus Carmentibus quarum altera Postverta cognominatast, Prorsa altera, a recti perversique partus et potestate et nomine). Ovid (Fast. I.633‑636) and Servius (Aen. VIII.336) explain these two Carmentes Postverta and Prorsa (under the form Porrima) as sisters or companions of the Arcadian goddess, Evander's mother, who derived their names from the knowledge of the past and power to foretell the future, and it may be that besides the original altar of Carmenta other altars were erected in process of time to Postverta and Prorsa representing either other aspects of Carmenta herself or her companions. In this way the use of varying terms to designate their shrine might be explained. For Carmenta and this question of terminology, see Gilb. I.258‑259, 264‑265; WR 219‑220; Rosch. I.851‑854; RE III.1594‑1596, and literature cited; BC 1913, 154‑184; CIL I2 p307 (11, 15 Jan.).

Page updated: 21 Aug 12