TELLUS

Another form for Terra, the name under which the earth was personified among the Romans, as Gaea was among the Greeks. She is often mentioned in contrast with Jupiter, the god of heaven, and connected with Dis and the Manes. When an oath was taken by Tellus, or the gods of the nether world, people stretched their hands downward, just as they turned them upwards in swearing by Jupiter. (Varro, de Re Rust. i. 1, 15 ; Macrob. Sat. iii. 9; Liv. viii. 9, x. 29.) During the war against the Picentians, an earthquake having been felt during the battle, the consul P. Seampronius Sophus caused a temple of Tellus to be built on the spot where the house of Spurius Cassius had stood, in the street leading to the Carinae. (Liv. ii. 41; Flor. i. 19. § 2; Val. Max. vi. 3. § 1; Dionys. viii. 79; Plin. H. N. xxxiv. 6, 14.) A festival was celebrated in honour of Tellus on the 15th of April, which was called Fordicidia or Hordicalia, from hordus or fordus, a bearing cow. (Ov. Fast. iv. 633; Arnob. vii. 22; Horat. Epist. ii. 1. 143.) In private life sacrifices were offered to Tellus at the time of sowing and at harvest-time, especially when a member of the family had died without due honours having been paid to him, for it was Tellus that had to receive the departed into her bosom. (Ov. Fast. iv. 629, &c.) At the festival of Tellus, and when sacrifices were offered to her, the priests also prayed to a male divinity of the earth, called Tellumo. (Varro, ap. August. de Civ. Dei, vii. 23.)