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Picumnus

An old Italian god of agriculture, credited with the invention of the use of manure. He was said to be the husband of Pomona. His brother Pilumnus was honoured by bakers as the inventor of the pestle (pilum) for crushing corn; and the two together were protecting deities to women in child-bed and to new-born infants. Hence, in the country, festal couches were set for them in the atrium when children were safely brought to birth. According to another ancient view, there were three divinities protecting mother and child, who prevented the mischievous intrusion of Silvanus into the house. These powers (representing the triumph of civilization over the wild forest life) were impersonated by three men, who went round the house in the night, and knocked on the threshold of the front and back doors, first with a hatchet and then with a pestle, and lastly swept them with a broom (Serv. ad Verg. Aen. ix. 9; Orig. iv. 11).

The names of these deities were Intercidona, god of the hewing of timbers, Pilumnus, of the crushing of corn into meal by the pestle, and Deverra, of the sweeping together of grain (Varro, quoted by St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, vi. 9). Picumnus, as appears in the name, is identical with Picus (q.v.).

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