CLOACINA

Or Cluacina, a surname of Venus, under which she is mentioned at Rome in very early times. (Liv. iii. 48.) The explanation given by Lactantius (de Fals. Relig. i. 20), that the name was derived from the great sewer (Cloaca maxima), where the image of the goddess was said to have been found in the time of king Tatius, is merely one of the unfortunate etymological speculations which we frequently meet with in the ancients. There is no doubt that Pliny (H. N. xv. 36) is right in saying that the name is derived from the ancient verb cloare or cluere, to wash, clean, or purify. This meaning is also alluded to in the tradition about the origin and worship of Venus Cloacina, for it is said that, when Tatius and Romulus were arrayed against each other on account of the rape of the Sabine women, and when the women prevented the two belligerents from bloodshed, both armies purified themselves with sacred myrtle-branches on the spot which was afterwards occupied by the temple of Venus Cloacina. The supposition of some modern writers, that Cloacina has reference to the purity of love, is nothing but an attempt to intrude a modern notion upon the ancients, to whom it was quite foreign. (Hartung, Die Relig. d. Röm. ii. p. 249.)