Opis

Our third Women's Wednesday is dedicated to Opis, Saturn's wife, earth goddess and personification of abundance. The Latin word "ops", in fact, literally means "riches, plenty"; at the same time, "opis" signifies "work", especially in the sense of "working the soil". For this reason, Opis is often depicted as holding a Horn of Plenty.

According to legend, when Saturn was prophetized that his and Opis' children would one day have dethroned him, the god started eating them one by one. Opis, as a mother, tried to save at least her last child, Jupiter, by feeding Saturn a rock swaddled in cloths instead. As Jupiter grew, Opis later helped him free his brothers, Pluto and Neptune, from their father's stomach. Many temples and statues were later dedicated to the goddess in order to highlight her importance as the mother of gods; among these, one of the main temples was that in Pergamon, in modern-day Turkey. The statue of Opis there venerated, as narrated by Livius, was then moved to Rome by the Romans during the war with Carthage.


“Opis”, illumination from the manuscript “Des cleres et nobles femmes”, ms. Spencer Collection 033, f. 5v, ca. 1450, The New York Public Library.

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