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Annona is the Roman Goddess of the corn supply (the European term for grain, in this case wheat, not the new world maize). She is the personification of the produce grown in the year: Her name, annona, was the name of the wheat allotment given to the people of Rome by the government to stave off famine. Originally annona could be any food grown or made over the year, for example fruit or wine as well as grain, but in time it came to mean provisions in general, especially wheat.

In the late years of the Republic, supplies of wheat were stockpiled in storehouses, to be used if famine threatened the populace, when it would then be made available at a discounted price. Under the corn law of Gaius Gracchus in 123 BCE, the government was obligated to supply six and a half bushels of corn to each Roman householder at a reduced price. By 58 BCE, Publius Clodius—the guy who crashed the women-only rituals of Bona Dea, who bent the rules to get elected tribune, who exiled Cicero and Cato, and who hired thugs to physically assault his opponents—made the wheat allotment free to the public. It seems to be one of the first things he did as tribune, probably to ingratiate himself with the general populice. The satirist Juvenal, writing a century later, coined the famous phrase panem et circenses or "bread and circuses", referring to the government's method of keeping the plebeians happy and building popular support: it was a rather transparent way of bribing the people with food and entertainment to keep them careless of the corruption of the government. Whether this strategy worked for Clodius with regard to the masses is not known; however, his nasty tactics led him to be killed five years later by a rival politician's mob.

Cynical motives aside, the annona was a popular program and ensured that the people of Rome were fed. The number of people receiving the annona ranged over time from 100,000 to 300,000 people, depending on the eligibility laws of the day. It was in effect until the end of the Roman Empire, though in the 3rd century CE it was given out as bread rather than wheat.

Wheat was luckily never really in short supply in Rome. In the early days, most of the wheat grown for Rome came from Sicily, Umbria and Etruria, though in later days it was imported from Africa and Egypt. Annona the Goddess came to be a personification of these wheat imports and as such was often depicted on coins, many times with the name of the current Emperor next to Her image in large letters, to take credit for the plentiful times. She was shown, much like Abundantia, the personification of abundance, with ships' elements—the prow, rudder or anchor—to suggest the far-off lands in which the grain was grown. Sometimes She holds ears of wheat, or a modius (bushel-basket) filled with grain, or the cornucopia, the horn of plenty. Once in a while She is shown with poppy seed-pods, an old attribute of Demeter, the Greek Grain Goddess (identified with the Roman Ceres) that alludes both to Demeter's Underworld connections (as Earth-Goddess and mother of Kore), and to the poppy's habit of growing amongst the wheat as a weed. Annona also can be shown holding tiny statues in Her hand, either Ceres or Spes, the Roman Goddess of Hope, or Aequitas, who personifies just dealings, and holds a balance to symbolize the fair and even distribution of the wheat.