- John Scheid
ExtractThe debate over the original nature of this goddess, who does not belong to Rome's oldest pantheon but is attested fairly early at *Lavinium, has been partly resolved (Schilling 1954). It is now accepted that the neuter †venus, ‘charm’, cannot be separated from the terms venia, venerari, venenum (‘gracefulness’, ‘to exercise a persuasive charm’, ‘poison’, against Radke, Götter 311 ff.)). How this neuter was transformed into a feminine, a process attested for the Osco-Umbrian goddess Herentas (cf. oscans; umbrians), is ill-understood in the absence of evidence. Schilling thinks that it took place at the federal sanctuary of Lavinium, a city with old and well-attested links with the Greek world and the legend of *Troy. Whatever the case, from the 3rd cent. bce, Venus was the patron of all persuasive seductions, between gods and mortals, and between men and women (Venus Verticordia). Because of her links with the extraordinary power of *wine, Venus is presented in the rites and myth of the *Vinalia as a powerful mediatrix between *Jupiter and the Romans.
- Roman Myth and Religion