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Herecura


Statue of Herecura, from Stuttgart - Bad Cannstatt. Städtisches Lapidarium, Stuttgart (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
Statue of Herecura, from Stuttgart - Bad Cannstatt
(Lapidarium, Stuttgart)
Herecura: ancient goddess, venerated along the northern shores of the Adriatic Sea and in Germania Superior.

The goddess Herecura or Herequra appears to have been comparable to the deity that is known as Persephone (in Greek): she was at the same time a goddess of death and fertility. Herecura's cult originated in the country north of the Adriatic Sea, where she and the death god (variously named Dis Pater and Sucellus) were jointly venerated in Aquileia. Later, Roman soldiers took her cult across the Alps to Germania Superior and Raetia.

The goddess is represented as a seated woman holding a basket with apples on her lap. This closely matches the iconography of the goddess Nehalennia, which creates some problems. The cult of Nehalennia in Germania Inferior dates back to the second century BCE (or earlier). Her first worshippers belonged to a conservative, pre-Celtic, Indo-European culture that was later germanized and romanized. The cult of Herecura, on the other hand, appears to be Illyrian. There's no relation between the two goddesses.

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Still, they not only share the same imagery, but also their dual nature as personifications of death and fertility. This is not uncommon: as we have already noticed, Persephone has to the same character. The explanation is probably that the soil is a source of wealth and at the same time man's final destination.

In Antiquity, like today, there were people who found it hard to pronounce the /H/. It is not surprising, therefore, that Herecura was also spelled like Arricura or even Aericura, which is a pun on aes and cura, "care of money". It is interesting to note that the goddess was also venerated as Aericurus, a male name, in Corbridge, Northumberland.

© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2005
Revision: 31 March 2006
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