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CORNU CO´PIAE or as one word, CORNUCO´PIAE, later CORNUCOPIA (Amm. Marc. 22.9.1; 25.2.3), the horn of fruitfulness and abundance, used as the symbol of plenty. (Plaut. Pseud. 2.3, 5; Gel. 14.6, 2; Hor. Carm. 1, 17, 13-16; Carm. Saec. 60; Ep. 1.12, 29; Ov. Met. 9.88) In mythology there are two different tales explaining the origin of this horn. One traces it to the horn of the goat Amaltheia, which suckled Zeus. The horn was broken off and filled with fruits and flowers, and was afterwards placed by Zeus together with the goat among the stars. (For references, see Dict. of Biogr., art. AMALTHEIA.) Another legend relates that it was the horn of the river--god Achelous, which was wrenched off by Hercules, and which became forth--with a horn of plenty (Dict. of Biogr., art. ACHELOUS). Later mythologists combined the two tales, and tried to explain how the horn of Amaltheia became the horn of Achelous (Apollod. 2.7.5). The origin of this symbol may perhaps be traced in the use of the horns of oxen or goats as drinking--cups; hence the ῥυτόν, or drinking-horn, which is frequently confounded

Fortuna holding cornucopia. (Bronze in the British Museum.)

with the horn of abundance. (Athen. xi. pp. 468 d, 497 c.)

The cornucopia constantly appears in works of art, especially of the Roman period, as the [p. 1.545]symbol of abundance. It is associated with various divinities, as in the preceding statue of the goddess Fortuna. It appears on the Greek coins of the Ptolemies, kings of Egypt. The accompanying specimen is a coin of Arsinoë, daughter of Ptolemy I., the reverse of which contains a double cornucopia filled with various fruits. (Cf. Athen. 11. 497 c.) On

Coin of Arsinoë, with cornucopia.

the coins of the Roman emperors the cornucopia occurs still more frequently. (Böttiger, Amalthea; Daremberg and Saglio, s.v. Roscher, Lexik. d. Gr. u. Röm. Myth. p. 927.)


hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.7.5
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 9.88
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 14.2
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 14.6
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 25.2.3
    • Horace, Carmen Saeculare, 1
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