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Sirona


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[divine star (?)]. Gaulish goddess of healing springs whose cult has been recorded at sites from Hungary to Brittany. As her statues appear both alone and with Apollo Grannus, she must have existed as a fertility and healing goddess from pre-Roman times but survived the fusion of Gaulish with Latin cults. The Treveri people of the Moselle valley, along the borders of modern France, Belgium, and Germany, took a special interest in Sirona's veneration. In their territory was built the rich healing shrine excavated at Hochscheid, between Mainz and Trier, which provides us with many artefacts of her worship. Seated next to Apollo in a maternal pose, Sirona has a dog resting in her lap. On her head is a diadem, implying high status; she carries three eggs, an unmistakable fertility symbol, and a snake twines around her arm, its head towards the eggs. At nearby Sainte-Fontaine near Freyming, also in the Moselle valley, the Sirona figure bears edible grains and fruits, while at Mainz she holds grapes. At Mâlain in the Côte d'Or mountains of north-eastern France, Sirona again has the snake coiled on her right arm. Other shrines have been excavated at Niedaltdorf, Bitburg, and Wiesbaden in Germany, and Metz, Luxeuil, and Corseul (Brittany) in France. Sirona appears to be identical with the goddess known elsewhere as Divona and Dirona. Her cult was displaced by Borvo in much of the Celtic world. See F. Jenkins, ‘The Role of the Dog in Romano-Gaulish Religion’, Collection Latomus, 16 (1957), 60–76. See also APOLLO.

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