CAMENAE

Or Camoenae, Roman divinities whose name is connected with carmen (an oracle or prophecy), whence we also find the forms Casmenae, Carmenae, and Carmentis. The Camenae were accordingly prophetic nymphs, and they belonged to the religion of ancient Italy, although later traditions represent them as having been introduced into Italy from Arcadia. Two of the Camenae were Antevorta and Postvorta. [ANTEVORTA.] The third was Carmenta or Carmentis, a prophetic and healing divinity, who had a temple at the foot of the Capitoline hill, and altars near the porta Carmentalis. Respecting the festival celebrated in her honour, see Dict. of Ant. s. v. Carmentalia. The traditions which assigned a Greek origin to her worship at Rome, state that her original name was Nicostrate, and that she was called Carmentis from her prophetic powers. (Serv. ad Aen. viii. 51, 336; Dionys. i. 15, 32.) According to these traditions she was the mother of Evander, the Arcadian, by Mercury (Hermes), and after having endeavoured to persuade her son to kill Hermes, she fled with him to Italy, where she gave oracles to the people and to Hercules. She was put to death by her son at the age of 110 years, and then obtained divine honours. (Dionys. i. 31, &c.) Hyginus (Fab. 277) further relates, that she changed the fifteen characters of the Greek alphabet, which Evander introduced into Latium, into Roman ones. The fourth and most celebrated Camena was Aegeria or Egeria. [AEGERIA.] It must be remarked here, that the Roman poets, even as early as the time of Livius Andronicus, apply the name of Camenae to the Muses.