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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Anna Perenna

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in Roman mythology, was a goddess or nymph whom the Romans honored in a joyous feast, which was annually held on March 15. She is often confounded with Anna, sister of Dido. The story runs as follows: After the death of Dido, Jarbas, king of the Gsetuli, conquered Carthage, causing Anna to flee to Battus, king of Malta; and when her brother, Pygmalion, threatened her and Battus with war, she fled to Italy to AEneas; but here also danger threatened her from the jealousy of Lavinia. Warned by Dido in a dream, Anna threw herself into the river Numicius, and was afterwards honored as nymph of the river under the name of Anna Perenna. Some call Anna Perenna the goddess of the moon, others a nymph who brought up Jupiter. As Anna is the feminine of the Latin year, and Perenna signifies duration, she probably is an ancient Italian goddess of the ever-returning year. Her festival, occurring in the spring of the year, when the earth begins to yield fruits, possibly suggests the thought that the old saying of the distribution of bread by her to starving Roman soldiers belongs to the oldest representations of her being, and that the conception of her as a river nymph denotes the fertilizing virtue of water.

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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Anna Perenna'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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