They pay honours also to another Larentia, for the following reason. The keeper of the temple of Hercules, being at a loss for something to do, as it seems, proposed to the god a game of dice, with the understanding that if he won it himself, he should get some valuable present from the god; but if he lost, he would furnish the god with a bounteous repast and a lovely woman to keep him company for the night.
On these terms the dice were thrown, first for the god, then for himself, when it appeared that he had lost. Wishing to keep faith, and thinking it right to abide by the contract, he prepared a banquet for the god, and engaging Larentia, who was then in the bloom of her beauty, but not yet famous,1
he feasted her in the temple, where he had spread a couch, and after the supper locked her in, assured of course that the god would take possession of her.
And verily it is said that the god did visit the woman, and bade her go early in the morning to the forum, salute the first man who met her, and make him her friend. She was met, accordingly, by one of the citizens who was well on in years and possessed of considerable property, but childless, and unmarried all his life, by name Tarrutius.
This man took Larentia to his bed and loved her well, and at his death left her heir to many and fair possessions, most of which she bequeathed to the people. And it is said that when she was now famous and regarded as the beloved of a god, she disappeared at the spot where the former Larentia also lies buried.
This spot is now called Velabrum, because when the river overflowed, as it often did, they used to cross it at about this point in ferry-boats
, to go to the forum, and their word for ferry is
‘velatura.’ But some say that it is socalled because from that point on, the street leading to the Hippodrome2
from the forum is covered over with sails
by the givers of a public spectacle, and the Roman word for sail is
‘velum.’ It is for these reasons that honours are paid to this second Larentia amongst the Romans.