one of the three symbolic beings--their names are Pilumnus, Intercidona, and Deverra--whose influence was sought by the Romans, at the birth of a child, as a protection for the mother against the vexations of Sylvanus.
The night after the birth of a child, three men walked around the house : the first struck the threshold with an axe, the second knocked upon it with a pestle, and the third swept it with a broom.
These symbolic actions were believed to prevent Sylvanus from entering the house, and were looked upon as symbolic representations of civilized or agricultural life, since without an axe no tree can be felled, a pestle is necessary to pound the grain, and corn is swept together with a broom. (Augustin, de Civ. Dei,
6.9; Hartung, Die Relig. der Römer,
ii. p. 175.)