Cuba is a Roman Goddess of Children Who watches over children
in their beds, blessing them as they sleep. Her name derives from the Latin
verb cuba, which has the primary sense of "lying down", and
is usually taken to mean "to rest or sleep" or "to be in bed";
it is related to the word cubiculum, "bedroom" or "bed".
As Her sister Goddess Cunina is specifically concerned
with infants in cradles, it would seem that Cuba is in charge of protecting
young children who have graduated to using a bed and who are no longer infants.
She is associated with other protective Goddesses of childhood
such as Educa, who blesses children's food, and Potina,
who blesses their drink; and She is said to be the sister to both Cunina and
Rumina, the Goddess of Breastfeeding. The fact that
there are several minor Goddesses dedicated to specific issues of childhood
is not a sign of the triviality or absurdity of ancient pagan thinking (as St.
Augustine would have it) but rather an indication of what a precarious time
childhood in the ancient world could be, before the days of vaccinations and
antibiotics when more than one in four children did not live through their first
year. Another meaning of cuba is "to be [lying down because one
is] sick" or even "to be [lying down because one is] dead", and
it is likely that Cuba was also prayed to to help sick children get well (which
does usually involve a lot of rest) and to avoid death.
Perhaps then Cuba is not just a guardian angel-type Who protects
children as they sleep, but a healer Goddess Who helps sick children get better
through the powers of bed-rest and sleep.
Cuba is sometimes linked with Juno, either
as an aspect of that Goddess or as one of Her associates; Juno, as the Roman
Mother-Goddess, was especially concerned with childbirth and healthy children.