Temple of Juturna

The festival of Juturna was celebrated on January 11, the same day that the festival of Carmentis began. (The former was one of the Nymphae; the latter, the Camenae.) The cult was not under the supervision of the two priests entrusted with keeping the Sibylline Books, the duoviri sacris faciundis, so it likely antedates 500 BC. The principal worshippers of her cult were those whose business was connected with water, but perhaps poets and literary men also attended her festival. After all, the nymphs who presided over springs were believed to inspire those who drank from them, and Virgil gave Juturna a considerable role in the last book of the Aeneid as the sister of Turnus, prince of Ardea. Sacrifices were offered to her both by the state and private persons. The sacrifices offered to nymphs consisted of goats, lambs, milk, and oil, but never of wine.

Originally the spirit of the river Numicus, Juturna was later identified as the spirit who presided over a spring in the southwest corner of the Forum. The site became known as the Lacus Iuturnae and comprised a formal pool and a shrine. Water from this pool was used in official sacrifices in Rome, and Juturna thus played an important role in the Roman religion. She was linked in legend with Castor and Pollux, whose temple lay beside her own. The Dioscuri were said to have watered their horses at her pool after bringing news of the victory at Lake Regillus in 494 BC.

In Roman mythology, Juturna was the sister of Turnus, the wife of Janus, and the mother of Fontus. She had an affair with Jupiter, but the secret was betrayed to Juno by the nymph Larunda. Jupiter rewarded Juturna by making her immortal and giving her dominion over several sacred wells. He punished Larunda by cutting out her tongue and ordering her into the lower world.

Temple of Juturna plan There was also a temple of Juturna in Rome, situated in the Campus Martius, but the exact relation between the temple and the shrine in the Forum is not known. The temple was built by Lutatius Catulus in comparatively later times. Perhaps it was dedicated on January 11 to coincide with the date of the festival of Juturna in the Forum. The ruins of the temple are seen on the upper left, and its plan on the lower right.

  • A website about the nymph Juturna provides a bit of additional information.
  • An article in Wikipedia about the nymph Larunda explains her connection to Juturna.
  • A collection of photographs shows various views of the Lacus Iuturnae in the Roman forum.
  • A series of photographs of the Lacus Iuturnae includes links to additional information.

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