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Fauna, Faula

or Fatua. A goddess of the Latins. According to the old Roman legends, by which all the Italian deities were originally mortals, she was the daughter of Picus, and the sister and wife of Faunus. One account makes her to have never left her bower, or let herself be seen of men; and to have been deified for this reason, becoming identical with the Bona Dea, and no man being allowed to enter her temple (Macrob. i. 12). According to another tradition, she was not only remarkable for her modesty, but also for her extensive and varied knowledge. Having, however, on one occasion, made free with the contents of a jar of wine, she was beaten to death by her husband with myrtle-twigs. Repenting, however, soon after of the deed, he bestowed on her divine honours. Hence, in the celebration of her sacred rites, myrtle-boughs were carefully excluded; nor was any wine allowed to be brought, under that name, into her temple; but it was called “honey,” and the vessel containing it also was termed mellarium, “honey-jar” (cf. Macrob. i. 12). Fauna is said to have given oracles from her temple after death, which circumstance, according to some, affords an etymology for the name Fatua or Fatuella, which was often borne by her (from fari, “to declare”). There can be little doubt that Fauna is identical not only with the Bona Dea, but with Terra, Tellus, and Ops—in other words, with the Earth personified (Macrob. l. c.). See Faunus.

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