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date: 09 December 2022



  • Herbert Jennings Rose
  •  and John Scheid


An ancient Italo-Roman goddess of growth (her name derives from † ker- ‘growth’), commonly identified in antiquity with *Demeter. Her name (*OscanKerri-, see the ‘Curse of Vibia’, Conway, Ital. Dial. 130, 1) suggests that of Cerus (‘in carmine Saliari Cerus manus intellegitur creator bonus’, Festus (Paul) Gloss. Lat., 248–9), but in cult she is found associated not with him but with *Tellus. This is shown by the juxtaposition of their festivals (*Fordicidia, to Tellus, 15 April; Cerialia, 19 April) and the fact that the feriae sementiuae (‘sowing festivals’) are celebrated in January in honour of both (Ov. Fast. 1. 657 ff., on which see Bayet, Croyances et rites (1971), 177 ff.). The occurrence of the Cerialia on the calendars and the existence of a flamen Cerialis testify to the antiquity of Ceres’ cult at Rome, but her whole early history is extremely obscure, particularly her relations, if any, with non-Italian (Greek) deities; see, for some ingenious conjectures, F.


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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