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date: 31 January 2023



  • John Scheid


Genius, lit. ‘that which is just born’. The genius, for a long time understood as the deification of the power of generation (Wissowa, RK 175; Latte, RR 103; H. Le Bonniec, Rev. Ét. Lat.1976, 110 ff.), was defined by Dumézil (see bibliog.) following the criticisms of W. Otto (see bibliog.) as ‘the entirety of the traits united in a begotten being’. It is a deified concept, its seat in the forehead (Serv. on Aen. 3. 607), and is not far from the notion of the self. The genius forms the ‘double’ of the male, and is both born and dies with him. (Hor.Epist. 2. 2. 183 ff.). At an unknown date the same idea was developed for the ‘double’ of a woman (the iuno). This divine being, distinct from its human ‘double’, was the object of a cult. Although in common parlance every male, slave or free, seems to have a genius, in family-cult only one genius was honoured in each *household, that of the *paterfamilias, particularly on the occasion of marriage (FestusGloss.


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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