Spes - Encyclopedia




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SPES, in Roman mythology, the personification of Hope. Originally a nature goddess (like Venus the garden goddess, with whom she was sometimes identified), she represented at first the hope of fruitful gardens and fields, then of abundant offspring, and lastly of prosperity to come and good fortune in general, being hence invoked on birthdays and at weddings. Of her numerous temples at Rome, the most ancient was appropriately in the forum olitorium (vegetable market), built during the first Punic war, and since that time twice burnt down and restored. The day of its dedication (August i) corresponded with the birthday of Claudius, which explains the frequent occurrence of Spes on the coins of that emperor. Spes is represented as a beautiful maiden in a long light robe, lifting up her skirt with her left hand, and carrying in her right a bud already closed or about to open. Sometimes she wears a garland of flowers on her head, ears of corn and poppy-heads in her hand, symbolical of a prosperous harvest. Like Fortune, with whom she is often coupled in inscriptions on Roman tombstones, she was also represented with the cornu copiae (horn of plenty).

See G. Wissowa, Religion and Kultus der Romer (1902), according to whom Spes was originally not a garden goddess, but simply the divinity to whom one prayed for the fulfilment of one's desires.

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