Libitina was the ancient Roman goddess responsible for proper funerals. Romans believed that contact with a corpse was spiritually polluting, and that her rites, administered and paid for, purified a dead body. Libitina had a temple that stood within a sacred grove called the Lucus Libitinae. Her temple housed mortuary records, death registers and all requisite funerary supplies. Over time the word Libitina came to be used for the vocation of gravedigger or undertaker, as Libitinarii.

Some scholars associate Libitina with Proserpina, but there is evidence that she descended from an ancient Italian version of Venus. This early incarnation characterizes Venus as an earth goddess, specifically of fertility, vegetables and gardens. Later, this Venus becomes two distinct goddesses; one popularly connected with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, the second known as Venus Libitina, a goddess associated with the annihilation of life force. The morphing from early Venus to Venus Libitina and finally to the death-related goddess the Romans knew by the simple moniker Libitina is supported by more than etymology. Roman earth deities were almost always tied to the underworld in some fashion. For example, Dis, or Pluto, is known for the name of his kingdom, which refers to the secret riches of the earth.

At no time did Libitina play a prominent role in Roman mythology. She has no place in literature.

see Greek And Roman Mythology

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