display | more...

In Roman legend she was the mother of Evander; she accompanied him from Arcadia when he was exiled and was forced to seek refuge in the west (see Evander). It is said that she was not called Carmenta in Arcadia. Writers give her original name variously as Nicostrate, Themis, Timandra or Telpousa. She is said to have been a Nymph, a daughter of the river Ladon. She was given the name of Carmenta at Rome because she possessed the gift of prophecy (derived from the word carmen, or 'the magic song'). From her knowledge of oracles and destinies she was able to select the most favourable site from the whole of Rome, on which to establish her son. When Heracles came to the Pallanteus on his return from the expedition against Geryon, she told the hero of the fate which lay ahead for him (see Cacus). She lived to be exceptionally old, dying at the age of one hundred and ten. Her son buried her at the foot of the Capitol, close to the Porta Carmentalis, so called in her memory.

According to other traditions Carmenta is said to have been Evander's wife and not his mother, and to explain why women were not allowed to attend the ceremonies of the cult of Heracles at the Ars Maxima it is said that Carmenta had refused an invitation from the hero to take part in the sacrifice which he was offering at the foundation of the altar, and that in his annoyance, the hero forbade women to be present at the ceremony thereafter. Some writers on ancient Rome regard Carmenta as a divinity of procreation. She was invoked using the two names Prorsa (head first) and Postversa (feet first) - the two possible positions in which a child can be born.


Table of Sources
- Paus. 8, 25, 2
- Virgil, Aen. 8, 333ff. with Serv. ad loc.; 130; 269
- Ovid, Fast. 1, 461ff.
- Livy 1, 7
- Dion. Hal. 1, 31
- Plut. Quaest. Rom. 56, 2786; 60, 278f; Romulus 21
- Solinus 1, 10; 13
- Hyg. Fab. 277
- See also Evander.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.