Will at the Crossroad

Hecate

Hecate tri-body
Unknown artist
Roman marble replica of Hellenistic period original

This image portrays the god Hecate (Greek word for “will”) in Athenian mythology or Trivia (Latin for “three streets”) in Roman mythology. She is usually depicted in a set of three people holding a torch and a key, and is associated with witchcraft, crossroads, and graveyards in both Greek and Roman mythology. She is more commonly identified as the goddess of the moon, but with her association to witchcraft and reputation of being a confident to Proserpina the Queen of the Underworld her abode is classified as being the Underworld. She was said to have had powers on all three levels, the sky, the sea, and the earth making her a well-known god. She was considered a household god due to her power to see in three directions at once including the past, present, and future. Often food would be left at crossroads to honor her as she walked past in the form of a will-o-wisp like body. A form of her three heads is often hung around the entrance to a house for her powers of foresight to be gifted upon those in the households.

As a Roman Underworld goddess she was considered the Queen of Ghosts and came from the Titan family. She plays a role in the tale of Proserpina and Pluto by aiding Ceres in finding her daughter. Earlier in mythological chronology she aids Jove in his fight against the titans, which is why she is allowed to keep her powers and goddess status rather than suffering for eternity in Tartarus. A peculiar fact about Hecate is the fact that she was not taboo and that she was in fact worshiped commonly and popularly. Her association with the domain of the Underworld is not the deep and dark place of souls, but rather the wandering maiden of crossroads.

This particular statue is found in the Vatican Museum and depicts the three faced Hecate and is a copy of a Hellenistic period statue from Greece. The three faces or bodies are common in depictions of Hecate as she is associated with crossroads, in particularly intersections in a y-shape, due to her ability to see in three directions at once.  Since this is a Roman there is the possibility that she was holding something in her hands at one point; probably a torch or some kind of key.

Hecate is known as Trivia in Roman with “tri” meaning “three” and “via” in reference to “road”. An iconic goddess often associated with her cousin Artemis or Diane in Roman as “all roads” are said to “lead to Rome.” In Roman culture her presence was said to have been announced only by dogs barking. This association leads all the way back to Egyptian equivalents.

The Running Maiden from Eleusis and the Early Classical Image of Hekate by Charles M. Edwards in the American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 90, No. 3 (Jul., 1986)

http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myths/greek_goddess_Hecate.htm

Kravitz, David (1975). “TRIVIA”. Who’s Who in Greek and Roman Mythology. New York: Clarkson N. Potter

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