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MINERVA, the goddess whom fable describes to have come forth fully armed and of mature age from the brain of Jupiter - in other words, an emanation from the intellect of Jove himself. —She was the tutelary divinity of the Athenians, and was called in Greek Athené. Her head is the type of the medals of Athens; and, under the name of Pallas, she was worshipped in that city and throughout Greece, as the protectress of heroes. —By the Romans she was regarded as the first in rank after Jupiter and Juno, and, with the statues of those deities, was placed in the principal temple of the capitol at Rome. As the goddess of reason, wisdom, and prudence, she was considered to preside over literature and the sciences. The invention of weaving and embroidery, together with the honour of having first taught mankind the use of the olive, was ascribed to her. —On consular coins Minerva but seldom appears. Morell has given her image or attributes on coins the Clovia, Cordia, Cornelia, and Vibia families. During the period of the empire, she occupies somewhat more frequently a place on Roman medals, particularly those of Domitian (see Domitianus), Commodus, Albinus, Severus, Caracalla, Geta, as far as Gallienus and Postumus.
—On these generally she is figured in a walking attitude, clothed in a long tunic, with sometimes the aegis on her breast, a helmet on her head, holding in her right hand by turns- as the deity both of war and of peace-a spear, the thunderbolt, an image of Victory, a branch of olive, and in her left hand a buckler. —On one silver coin of the Vibia family she stands as Minerva the Vanquisher, with victory and spear; on another her bust is represented, and on a third she stands in a quadriga.- Amongst the rare medallions in brass, struck under Antoninus Pius, without legend, the image of this goddess is three times introduced—viz., 1. Where she is placed on the right hand of Jupiter, whilst Juno is on his left, and all three are seated, full faced, on curule chairs. 2. Minerva leaning against a tree, around which a serpent is entwined, and looking at Prometheus, who is in the act of forming a man. 3. Minerva standing before Vulcan, who is forging a thunderbolt: on another coin a helmet. 4. Vulcan standing before a statue of Minerva placed on a cippus. —On a coin of Clodius Albinus the surname of Pacifera is assigned to this goddess.-See Olea Ramus, the olive branch.
Minerva was the object of especial adoration with that vain, profligate, and murderous tyrant Domitian; on coins of each metal struck under this Emperor, we see a well executed figure of the goddess, holding in one hand her buckler, and in the other the fulmen or thunderbolt, which she is going to launch, intended, says Oiselius, "as the symbol of Domitian's authority," with the circumscription IMP. XIX. COS. XVI. CENS. P. P. (emperor for the nineteenth time, consul for the sixteenth, censor, father of the country.) —On a first brass of this emperor, without legend on its reverse, but bearing the authorisation of the Senate, he stands between Minerva and Victory, the latter of whom is placing a laurel crown on his head.