25 Dec Birthday of Gods

All born of a virgin, announced by a star and attended by three wise men. Happy Birthday to the godesses and gods.

Here is my favorite godess, Bibesia.

bibesia

Bibesia is the Roman Goddess of Drink and Beverages, who, with Edesia, Goddess of Food, presided at feasts. Her name is derived from the Latin bibi, “to drink, toast, or visit”, and the same root is found in our word imbibe (literally, “to drink in”), as well as beverage itself (which comes to English through French). She was considered the numen (the personified divine spirit) of the drink or wine served at table, and was perhaps believed to make sure both that the wine was of good quality and that it flowed freely. Libations were offered to both Bibesia and Edesia at banquets and feasts. She is one of many Roman Deities of a specific and limited function that early Christian writers loved to mock and compare unfavorably to their Jehovah, who, in their belief, was far superior to the Pagan Gods as He could do the work of all the Pagan Gods combined.

The main meal of the Roman day was the cena, which, depending on the time period, could be in the early afternoon or later in the evening. In most households this was a fairly ordinary meal, but in the wealthier houses of the Empire, great banquets featuring many elaborate courses could be given. The first course was called the gustatio (“tasting” or “enjoying”) or frigida mensa (“the cold course”), and was made up of appetizer-type foods: eggs, mushrooms, vegetables in sauce, or shellfish, which were served with mulsum, a mixture of wine and honey. The main course, the cena proper, generally consisted of three dishes (though there are records of as many as seven); usually several types of meat dishes were offered. After the cena was finished and cleared away, sacrifices were made to the Gods, by placing cakes or other offerings in the fire on the hearth. Generally these offerings were made to the Lares, guardian spirits who watched over the household, but perhaps it was at this time that libations were made to Bibesia and Edesia as well. The last course was the mensae secundae (literally “second course”) or the bellaria (“sweets” or “dainties”), the dessert course, where pastries and fruits such as grapes or apples were served. The Romans used the phrase “eggs to apples” to describe a complete feast, just as we say “soup to nuts”.

In Cuculio, or The Forgery, a comedy by the Roman playwright Plautus (of the 3rd-2nd century BCE), “Bibesia” and “Peredia” are the names of invented countries (mixed in with real ones such as Lydia and Arabia for good measure); Bibesia in this context is said to mean “Thirsty-Land”, while Peredia is naturally enough “Hungry-Land”.

 

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