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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Vertumnus - God of Seasons

  • Alternate Spelling: Vertimnus, Vortumnus
  • Origins: Roman, possibly Etruscan
  • Presides Over: seasons, change, plant growth, gardens, trees
  • Powers: shapeshifting, metamorphosis
  • Favored People: Orchards (apples in particular), gardeners, farmers, growers, botonists
  • Feast day: August 13
  • Appropriate offerings: First fruits or vegetables from the garden or orchard, garlands of budding flowers, any fruits or vegetables in season
In Roman mythology, Vertumnus was the god of seasons, change and plant growth, as well as gardens and fruit trees. Like the seasons and the fruit trees, Vertumnus was a shapeshifter, male spirit of the shifting seasons and consort of Pomona.

Vertumnus, is said to have been an Etruscan divinity whose worship was introduced at Rome by an ancient Vulsinian colony occupying at first the Caelian hill, and afterwards the vicus Tuscus. The name Vortumnus appears to derive from Etruscan Voltumna. It was likely then further contaminated in popular etymology by a pre-existing Latin word vertēre meaning "to change", hence the alternative form, Vertumnus "the god who changes or metamorphoses himself." For this reason the Romans connected Vertumnus with all occurrences to which the verb vertēre applies, such as the change of seasons, purchase and sale, the return of rivers to their proper beds.

In reality the god was connected only with the transformation of plants, and their progress from being in blossom to that of bearing fruit. Hence the story, that when Vertumnus was in love with Pomona, he assumed all possible forms, until at last he gained his end by metamorphosing himself into a blooming youth. Gardeners accordingly offered to him the first produce of their gardens and garlands of budding flowers. But, the whole people celebrated a festival to Vertumnus on the 13th of August, under the name of the Vortumnalia (Vertumnalia).

Vertumnus' cult arrived in Rome around 300 BC, and a temple to him was constructed on the Aventine Hill by 264 BC, the date of the fall of Volsinii (Etruscan Velzna) to the Romans. A statue of him stood in the vicus Jugarius near the altar of Ops. It was decorated according to the changing seasons.

Collected from various sources including Wikipedia
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