Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pomona, a goddess


Pomona by Nicholas Fouche C.1700

Pomona is a Roman goddess of fruiting trees and orchards. She did not care for forests, she loved her cultivated countryside. She wields a pruning knife in her right hand for she is an expert in pruning and grafting. Despite the fact that she preferred to be alone to care and nurture her trees, this amazon-like beauty was besieged by suitors, in particular a god called Vertumnus. Vertumnus had the ability to take different human guises and made numerous attempts to woo Pomona but she turned him away each time. It wasn't until Vertumnus appeared before her in his proper person (apparently quite a good looking fellow) that Pomona gave in to his charms. Vertumnus is a god of gardens and orchards and so it appears they were a match made in heaven.


The name Pomona comes from the Latin word pomum, "fruit," specifically orchard fruit. ("Pomme" is the French word for apple.) She was said to be a wood nymph and a part of the Numia, guardian spirits who watch over people, places, or homes. While Pomona watches over and protects fruit trees and cares for their cultivation she is not actually associated with the harvest of fruit itself, but with the flourishing of the fruit trees. This is why the pruning knife was her sacred tool. In artistic depictions she is generally shown with a platter of fruit or a cornucopia.



 William Morris, (whose tapestry of Pomona is shown above) left us this lovely poem:


 Pomona
 
I am the Ancient Apple Queen,
As once I was so am I now.
For ever more a hope unseen,
Betwix the blossom and the bow.

Ah, where’s the river’s hidden Gold!
And where’s the windy grave of Troy!
Yet come I as I came of old,
From out the heart of summer’s joy.



Pomona and Vertumnus in the guise of an old woman, by Francesco Melzi 1570-20








If you are interested in reading a lovely interpretation of the Pomona myth check out Thalia's site. Her story is quite charming and fun to read.

5 comments:

  1. Patty, I saw this in the queue waiting to be read but then it disappeared when you posted on the VBA. I had to go back and find it because I love your posts and all their research and history plus art and poetry. Keep it up. Carolyn

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  2. That was indeed a charming story. And so was yours.

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  3. I have a feeling if I wander my garden topless the end result won't be quite as cheery as the images depicted here! :o) What a cool lady!

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  4. Dear Patty, This is such a wonderful post!! Thank you for reminding me about Pomona . . . I never knew of her love story. The illustrations you share are beautiful! Enjoyed this so much! Have a great weekend. Carol

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  5. Thanks for your comment today. Pomona came to me in a dream once. That was the way the ancients communicated with the gods. They would sleep at the temple when seeking contact. She came while I was alone in an empty garden & gave me a twig. I couldn't see the use of it. But she told me to push it into the ground. A large tree laden with fruit quickly grew up.

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