Terra (mythology)

Terra (mythology)

Terra Mater or Tellus was a goddess personifying the Earth in Roman mythology. The names "Terra Mater" and "Tellus Mater" both mean "Mother Earth" in Latin; "Mater" is an honorific title also bestowed on other goddesses. Romans appealed to her over earthquakes, and along with the grain goddess Ceres, she was responsible for the productivity of farmland. She was also associated with marriage, motherhood, pregnant women, and pregnant animals. Terra's Greek counterpart is Gaia, and as such, she was said to be the mother of Fama, the goddess of fame and rumor.

Some linguists studying the Indo-European languages believe that the two words "Terra" and "Tellus" derive from the formulaic phrase "tersa tellus", meaning "dry land"Fact|date=August 2008. If this is true, "Tellus" might be the more ancient version of the name. According to the "Oxford Classical Dictionary", "Terra" refers to the element earth (one of the four basic elements of earth, air, water, and fire) and "Tellus" refers to the guardian deity of Earth and by extension the globe itself. [Hornblower, Simon and Spawforth, Antony, editors "The Oxford Classical Dictionary" Third Edition Oxford/New York: 1996 Oxford University Press--Article on Tellus Page 1480: "while Terra describes the element "earth" Tellus is the name of its protecting deity."] Actual classical Latin usage does not necessarily appear to respect this distinction. [ [http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8fsti10.txt Ovid, "Fastis"] , line 1 ff., 67 ff., 105 ff., 469 ff. etc.]

A festival for Tellus called the Fordicia or Hordicidia was held every year on April 15; it involved the sacrifice of pregnant cows and was managed by the pontifex maximus and the Vestal Virgins. The Virgins kept the ashes of the fetal calves until they were used for purification at Parilia. Two festivals were held in January to mark the end of the winter sowing season, the Sementivae, celebrated in the city, and the Paganalia, celebrated mostly in rural areas. The first part of the Sementivae was held from January 24 to 26 in honor of Tellus, the second part honored Ceres and was held a week later.

Tellus and Terra in science fiction

Many science fiction authors have used the term "Terra" to refer to Earth. Authors that have used "Tellus" include C. S. Lewis in his Space Trilogy, E. E. Smith in his Lensman series, and Robert A. Heinlein in several of the stories in his Future History sequence. The Greek "Gaia" is used by Isaac Asimov in the Foundation Series but does not refer to Earth.

ee also

* Dewi Shri
* Gaia hypothesis
* Gaia (mythology)


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