MINERVA (i.e., menes-va, endowed with mind) was the Roman goddess who presided over all handicrafts, inventions, arts, and sciences. She was probably an Etruscan deity, but her character was modified on Roman soil through her identification with the Greek Pallas Athena (see ATHENA). No legend of her birth is recorded ; the Roman deities were abstractions, not distinct persons with an individual history. Her chief worship in Rome was in the temple built by Tarquin on the Capitol, where she was worshipped side by side with Jupiter and Juno. This foundation may be assigned to Etruscan influence. She had also an old temple on the Aventine, which was a regular meeting-place for dramatic poets and actors. The dedication day of the temple and birthday of the goddess was March 19, and this day was the great festival of Minerva, called quinquatrus because it fell on the fifth day after the Ides. The number five was sacred to the goddess. All the schools had holidays at this time, and the pupils on reassembling brought a fee (minerval) to the teachers. In every house also the quinquatrus was a holiday, for Minerva was patron of the women's weaving and spinning and the workmen's craft. At a later time the festival was extended over five clays, and games were celebrated. This feature is evidently due to the Grcizing conception of Minerva as the goddess of war. To this same Grweizing tendency we must attribute the lectisterniunt to Minerva and Neptune conjointly after the battle of the Trasimeno Lake. The 23d had always been the day of the tubilustrium, or purification of the trumpets, so that the ceremony came to be on the last day of Minerva's festival. Trumpets were used in many religious ceremonies ; and it is very doubtful whether the tubilustrium was really connected with Minerva. There was another temple of Minerva on the Callian Hill, and a festival called the lesser quinquatrus was celebrated there on June 13-15, chiefly by the flute-players.
Minerva of the Cailian temple was called Capta; June 19 was the foundation day of this temple and the birthday of the goddess. The palladium, an archaic image of Pallas, was brought from Troy to Lavinium, and thence to Rome by the family of the Nautii ; it was yreserved in the temple of Vesta as a pledge of the safety of the city. There are some traces of an identification of Minerva with the Italian goddess Ncrio, wife of Mars; it is probable that March 19 was originally a feast of Mars.
Besides Preller, Reim. Myth., and Hartung, Relig. d. Rilmer, &e., see Jordan, Ephem. Epigraph., 1. 238; Mommseu, C. 1. L., I. 388; L'sener, Rhein. Mus., xxx. 222.