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Levana (from Latin levare, "to lift"[1]) is an ancient Roman goddess involved in rituals pertaining to childbirth. Augustine says that dea Levana is invoked when the child is lifted de terra, from the earth or ground,[2] her function may be paralleled by the Greek Artemis Orthia, if interpreted as the Artemis who lifts or raises children.[3]

It is sometimes supposed that Levana was invoked in a ceremony by which the father lifted the child to acknowledge it as his own, but the existence of such a ceremony is based on tenuous evidence and contradicted by Roman law pertaining to legitimacy of birth.[4] More likely, Levana was the goddess who oversaw the lifting of the child by the midwife immediately after birth. Kneeling or squatting was a more common position for childbirth in antiquity,[5] and the newborn probably came to rest on the ground before the umbilical cord was cut.[6]

Modern use[edit]

Thomas De Quincey's prose poem Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow begins with a discussion of the role of Levana in Roman religion.

Levana is the name of an infant and child safety product manufacturer; the brand was established in 2007 and concentrates on electrical means of protection.[7]

In the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Levana is the name of the current queen of Luna (a human colony on the moon).


  1. ^ W.M. Lindsay, The Latin Language: An Historical Account of Latin Sounds, Stems, and Flexions (Cambridge University Press, 1894, reprinted 2010), p. 326.
  2. ^ Augustine, De Civitate Dei 4.11; perhaps also referenced by Tertullian, Ad nationes 2.11, but the text is problematic.
  3. ^ Claude Calame, Choruses of Young Women in Ancient Greece: Their Morphology, Religious Role, and Social Functions, translated by Derek Collins and Janice Orion (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), p. 167.
  4. ^ Brent D. Shaw, "Raising and Killing Children: Two Roman Myths," Mnemosyne 54.1 (2001), pp. 54–55.
  5. ^ Pierre Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Blackwell, 1986, 1996, originally published 1951 in French), pp. 311–312; Charles J. Adamec, "Genu, genus," Classical Philology 15 (1920), p. 199]; J.G. Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece (London, 1913), vol. 4, p. 436; Marcel Le Glay, "Remarques sur la notion de Salus dans la religion romaine," La soteriologia dei culti orientali nell' imperio romano: Études préliminaires au religions orientales dans l'empire romain, Colloquio internazionale Roma, 1979 (Brill, 1982), p. 442.
  6. ^ Christian Laes, Children in the Roman Empire: Outsiders Within (Cambridge University Press, 2011, originally published 2006 in Dutch), p. 60; Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998), p. 20.
  7. ^ Levana Child Safety Products

External links[edit]