PART 2 – Ch.XII.10
principal prehistoric divinities of
10. Rhea or the Great Mother venerated under the name of Dacia, Terra
Rhea or the Great Mother
officially appears, on the historical monuments of the Roman epoch, as an
ancient ethnic divinity of
In the beginning she had been worshipped there, and also in other Pelasgian lands, under the name of Rhea.
In the mountainous
parts of ancient
[1. Rea, village in the
There are three known villages called Reieni, all situated in mountainous regions: one in Mehedinti district, near Ponoare, another in Banat, SE of Caransebes, and the third in Biharia, near Crisul-negru, west of Tartaroia mountain].
But in later times
Rhea appears venerated at north of the
Following primitive Pelasgian ideas, Rhea or the Great Mother, considered as a national divinity, benevolent and protective, had various geographical epithets with the various Pelasgian tribes, after the cities, the lands and the mountains where her most renowned sanctuaries and simulacra were located.
She was worshipped
She also had the
epithet of Plachiana mater, after the Pelasgian city Placia near the
Under the name of
On one of the Roman inscriptions discovered at Deva, she is mentioned as a divinity with the name of TERRA DACIA, and her place of honor is immediately after Jupiter Optimus Maximus and before Genius Populi Romani (C.I.L.III nr. 1351).
We also know about
another important inscription from the time of M. Antoninus Pius, relevant to
the cult of the Great Mother under the name of “
On the day of 4
April, the tribune of the legion XIII Gemina, inaugurated at Apulum (Alba –
Julia) an altar or sanctuary dedicated to the national religion of
divinities was Jupiter Optimus Maximus,
then the commonly mentioned Dii et deae
immortales, and finally
That this divinity called “Dacia” and “Terra Dacia”, represented Rhea or Magna Mater in the public cult, can be ascertained also by the fact that the sanctuary at Alba, dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus and to the goddess Dacia, was consecrated on the 4th of April, which, according to the Julian Faste (C. I. L. I. p.390) corresponds to the first day of the great feast days of the Mother of gods, with prayers, processions and games which lasted for seven days.
In regard to the
iconic representation of the Great Mother called “
This coin is very important, as we see the divinity DACIA represented even during the time of Trajan in official form, with political honors and telluric attributes, enthroned on the Carpathians with the imperial scepter in hand as Terra Mater (Macrobius, Sat. I. 12; Preller-Jordan, R. M. I. 399), as a protective divinity of this country, and as “Mother” of its inhabitants, who, under the form of the two children (Dacia superior et inferior) bring her the first produce of their crops.
It is very probable
that during the last fierce war between the Romans and the Dacians, at the
assault of Sarmizegetusa, the divinity
Various consecrations of Roman public monuments in honor of this divinity, her figuring on the coins of the empire in an imposing attitude and with sovereign telluric attributes, appear as an official confirmation of a solemn occasion when this divinity had been invoked.
In the wars which they fought with enemy peoples, the Romans, following an ancient religious custom before the principal assault on their capitals and fortresses, invoked during a certain religious ceremony the protective divinities of the enemy fortress and people, with the following consecrated formula: “If there is a god, or a goddess, under whose guardianship the citadel and the people (the name of the respective locality is said) is, but especially you, who have received under your protection this city and this people, I pray to you, I worship you, and I ask forgiveness from you, so that you shall abandon this people and this city (again the topical name), you shall leave their places, their temples, their religious ceremonies and their city, and you shall leave them, you shall inspire fear in their souls, terror and oblivion, and after you’ve deserted them and left them without help, you shall come to Rome, to me and mine; I pray that our places, temples, and religious ceremonies will please you more, and that our city will be more grateful to you, so that we might know and understand that you are now my leaders, the leaders of the Roman people, and of my soldiers (Macrobius, Sat. III. 9), and if you shall do so, I swear that I shall raise temples for you and I shall decree games in your honor”.
After this prayer the victims were immolated, then the dictator or emperor recited a new formula, with which he cursed all the enemy cities and armies, ending with the following words “So I ask you Tellus Mater”, touching the ground with his hand, “and you Jupiter”, lifting his hands skywards.
As Macrobius tells us (Sat. III. 9), in the old Annals of Rome were mentioned a number of enemy cities and armies of the Gauls, Spaniards, Africans, Maurs and other nations, against whom these formulae of invoking and cursing had been used.
On this coin the
legend DACIA AVGVST is around the
central figure, and underneath is the legend
On the reverse of
another coin, minted in Dacia during the time of the emperor Filip the Arab,
the divinity DACIA, protector of the
province, is represented with her head covered with the national Dacian cap.
The goddess holds in her right hand the curved Dacian sword, as symbol of her
warring power. (The Great Mother was considered as a warring divinity also by
the Pelasgians of Cappadocia – Strabo,
XII. 2. 3 – and by the Trojans – Virgil,
Aen. X. 252). On the same side of the figure can be seen a military standard
thrust into the ground, with the number V of the Macedonian legion, and at
ground level a vulture with a ring (crown?) in its beak, looking towards the
face of the goddess, symbolizing probably a characteristic attribute of her as
supreme mountainous divinity, and as Mater ferarum. In her left hand she holds
another military standard with the number XIII of the Gemina legion, and on the
lower part of the coin there is a walking lion, the classical and indispensable
attribute of the Mother of gods. Underneath is the year II of the Dacian era,
which corresponds to the year 1001 of
The divinity “
(After Boliac, Buciumul, 1863, p.184)
This coin is even more
significant, because it shows the national divinity of
The cult of the
Great Mother under the name of “
We do not find in
Roman epigraphy and in any other religious cult of the Roman provinces, for
Finally, we must still add that on the back side of a coin, probably from the time of Domitian, the divinity was represented as a sad woman, sitting near a trophy, and having the inscription of DAKIA (Eckhel, Doctrina numorum veterum, II. p.4).
As Saturn was
called Dokius Caeli filius in
ancient legends, similarly his sister and wife Rhea appears worshipped in the
public cult of the Province under the name of
She was one of the
most important topical divinities of