Mater Matuta

Mistakenly identified with the Greek Ino or Leucothea, Mater Matuta was an ancient Italian goddess associated with the early morn, or dawn. Her festival, the Matralia (June 11), was celebrated by Roman matrons at her temple in the Forum Boarium. (Her most famous temple was located at Satricum.) With one exception, slaves were not admitted, and even she would be expelled after being slapped on the cheek. Additional arcane practices characterized the solemnities, but the underlying principle was concerned with the birth and care of children.

The matrons took the children of their sisters with them rather than their own offspring and prayed for their welfare. The statue of the goddess was then crowned with a garland by one of the matrons who had not yet lost a husband. The offerings to the goddess consisted of sacred cakes (testuacia) baked in old-fashioned earthenware pots.

  • Additional facts about the Matralia are provided by an entry in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
  • More information about Mater Matuta, whom the Romans eventually made equivalent to Aurora, and the rites of her festival is provided at this site.
  • Information about the temple of Mater Matuta is provided by an entry in Platner's A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

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