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Deferunda is one of four Roman Goddesses known from an invocation performed by the Arval Brethren when it was necessary to remove a problematic fig tree from the grove of Dea Dia (apparently it had self-seeded and was growing on a roof). The four Goddesses--Deferunda, Coinquenda, Commolenda and Adolenda--are concerned with the proper ritual removal of the tree.

The Arval Priests were a brotherhood of twelve priests who were responsible for overseeing the rites of the Dea Dia, an early Roman grain and fertility Goddess. Dea Dia is said to be another name for Acca Larentia, the Goddess whose twelve sons (including Her adopted son, Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome) were believed to have made up the first Arval priesthood. They were the oldest religious brotherhood of Rome, and were known to be quite ancient; their name derives from the Latin arvum, "a plowed field", and they made offerings to the Lares (ancient guardian spirits) to ensure a plentiful harvest. Their connection with the Lares is also seen in the fact that Acca Larentia was believed to be the mother of the Lares as well as the mother of the original Arvals.

It is not known if these Goddesses were invented for the occasion, or if they were part of a tradition when dealing with such situations. Many cultures have certain rituals that must be performed before removing a living tree--from asking the tree's permission to making offerings to propitiate its spirit--and the Romans were certainly ones to follow proper religious procedure (one might call them superstitious), especially when sacred ground such as the grove of a Goddess was concerned.

Deferunda's name, sometimes glossed as "Carter", is from the Latin verb deferunda, meaning "to carry" or "to transfer"; it can mean "to entrust" or "to refer for decision" as well, and in this case it likely refers to the unavoidable need to remove the tree, the implication being that the proper permission is being asked, or a ritual announcement is being made. Coinquenda's name, which is not a Quenya word, comes from the Latin verb coinquenda "to prune", or "to cut down". She is sometimes said to be a Goddess of Trees, who watches over and protects them, especially those in sacred groves. Commolenda, "the Smasher" derives her name from commolenda, "to grind down", possibly referring to the removal of the resulting cut branches, logs and stump. Lastly, Adolenda's name, sometimes simply defined as "the Burner", does come from adolenda, "to burn", but with the richer sense of making a sacrifice or offering to the Gods; and in fact the same word is also used with the meaning "to worship". Adolenda's name especially underscores the sacred nature of this process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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