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Uni was the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia. Uni was identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology.[1] She formed a triad with her husband Tinia and daughter Menrva.

Uni
Goddess of Love and Marriage
Uni et hercle.jpg
Drawing of a scene on an Etruscan mirror, in which Uni suckles the adult Hercle before he ascends to immortality
ConsortTinia
Greek equivalentHera
Roman equivalentJuno

Uni appears in the Etruscan text on the Pyrgi Tablets as the translation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte.

Livy states (Book V, Ab Urbe Condita) that Juno was an Etruscan goddess of the Veientes, who was adopted ceremonially into the Roman pantheon when Veii was sacked in 396 BC. This seems to refer to Uni. She also appears on the Liver of Piacenza.

In the Etruscan tradition, it is Uni who grants access to immortality to the demigod Hercle (Greek: Heracles, Latin: Hercules) by offering her breast milk to him.[2]

Uni was likely worshipped as a fertility deity and mother figure by the people of northern Etruria, Italy.[3]

In 2016 an ancient Etruscan stone slab dated to the 6th century BC, was found at the Etruscan archaeological site Poggio Colla, located near the town of Vicchio in the Mugello region of northern Tuscany. This inscription contains the name of the goddess:

"The mention of the goddess Uni is included as part of a sacred text that could be the longest Etruscan inscription of its kind ever discovered on stone, and one of the three longest sacred texts to date, according to lead researcher, P. Gregory Warden, from the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project and the Southern Methodist University in Texas".[3]

The archaeologists have tentatively linked Uni's mention to the existence of an underground cult at the sanctuary, based on the way the stele was placed in the foundations of the temple: "The centre of worship was an underground fissure that was ritually treated after the destruction of the temple," he said. "Underground cults of this type were often associated with female divinities."[3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ de Grummond, Etruscan Myth, Sacred History and Legend, page 78-84
  2. ^ Nancy Thomson de Grummond, Etruscan Myth, Sacred History, and Legend (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2006), pp. 83–84.
  3. ^ a b c Bec Crew, This 2,500-Year-Old Stone Just Revealed The Name of a Powerful Etruscan Goddess, Science Alert, 26 August 2016. Recovered from https://www.sciencealert.com/this-inscribed-stone-just-revealed-the-name-of-a-mystery-etruscan-goddess