The Ancient Library

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On this page: Genius – Genius – Gennetae



Brunswick, 6| inches high, 2J inches thick, consisting of a single onyx. The lid, handle and base are of gold. Two parallel lines of gold divide the surface into three parts, the midmost of which has twel ve figures, repre­senting the festival of the Thesmophoria, in three groups ; while the highest and lowest are adorned with leaves, flowers, ears of corn, fruits, bulls' heads, and other objects connected with the worship of Demeter. Works of this kind are sometimes made of coloured glasses. The most celebrated instance of this sort is the Portland Vase now in the British Museum. Its height is about 10 inches. The material is a dark blue transparent glass, with beautiful re­liefs in white opaque enamel (fig. 9). [See

and to this Genius the marriage bed was sacred. A man's birthday was naturally the holiday of his attendant Genius, to whom he offered incense, wine, garlands, cakes, everything iu short but bloody sacri­fices, and in whose honour he gave himself up to pleasure and enjoyment. For the Genius wishes a man to have pleasure in the life he has given him. And so the Romans spoke of enjoying oneself as in­dulging one's Genius, and of renunciation as spiting him. Men swore by their Genius as by their higher self, and by the Genius of persons whom they loved and honoured. The philosophers originated the idea of a, man having two Genii, a good and a bad one; but in the popular belief the notion of the Genius was that of a good and beneficent being. Families, societies, cities and peo­ples had their Genius as well as individuals. The Genius of the Roman people (Genius Publlcus, or Popuii Romani) stood in the forum, represented in the form of a bearded man crowned with a diadem, a cornucopia in his right hand, and a sceptre in his left. An annual sacrifice was offered to him on the 9th October. Under the Empire the Genius of Augustus, the founder of the Empire, and of the reigning emperor, were publicly worshipped at the same time. Localities also, such as open spaces, streets, baths, and theatres, had their own Genii.


(British Museum.)

Catalogue of Engraved Gems in the British Museum, 1888, pp. 225-8; and (on the subject in general) Introduction, pp. 1-38.]

Genius (= creator, begetter). The Italian peoples regarded the Genius as a higher power which creates and maintains life, assists at the begetting and birth of every individual man, determines his character, tries to influence his destiny for good, ac­companies him through life as his tutelary spirit, and lives oil in the Lar&s after his death. (See lares.) As a creative prin­ciple, the Genius is attached strictly speak­ing, to the male sex only. In the case of women his place is taken by Juno, the personification of woman's life. Thus, in a house inhabited by a man and his wife, a Genius and a Juno are worshipped together. But in common parlance it was usual to speak of the Genius of a house,

* HARPOCRATE8, AND SNAKE AS GENIUS LOCI. (Pittia-e i'Krcolimo, i 207.)

These were usually represented under the form of snakes (see cut); and hence the common habit of keeping tame snakes.

Gennetae. This was the Athenian term for the members of the 360 ancient families (ffennce), thirty of which made up one of the twelve phrdtrlce of the four old Ionic

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