Matronae Epithets: Germanic

From Alex Garman’s The Cult of the Matronae in the Roman Rhineland:

Of the hundreds of Matronae inscriptions, over half of them have Germanic epithets. The following list contains the names and meanings of some of the epithets that are believed to be Germanic and whose translations are generally agreed upon by scholars:

Afliae: Powerful ones
Ahinehiae: River deities
Alagabiae: All giving
Alhiahenae: Elk deities or temple
Alusneihae: goddesses of ecstasy
Amfratninae/Amratninae: personal fortune
Annanept(i)ae: friendly sisters
Audrinehae/Authrinehae/Autriahenae: friendly powers of destiny
Aufaniae: goddesses of swampy place
Austriahenae: goddesses of the sheep [Shaw gives “eastern matrons” or “matrons belonging to an eastern group of people” instead]
Berguiahenae: goddesses of trees
Chuchenehae: goddesses of the hill
Etrahenae: goddesses of a region
Fachinehae/Fahineihae: Gladsome ones
Fernovinehae: goddesses of the stream
Gabiae: Giving ones
Gavadiae: Ones who watch over vows
Gavasiae: goddesses of midwives
Gesahenae: goddesses of a region
Gratichihenae: goddesses of grazing
Haitinae: goddesses of the heat
Hamavehae: goddesses of the Chamavi
Lanehiae: goddesses of the region
Leudinae: goddesses of healing
Mahalinehae: goddesses of the court
Ratheih(i)ae: wheel goddesses
Renahenae: goddesses of the Rhine river
Suebae: Goddesses of the Suebi
Teniavehae: Goddesses of a region
Textumeihae: Bringers of Joy
Treverae: Goddesses of the Treveri
Tummaestiae: helpers of the house
Turstuahenae: the mightiest
Vacallinehae: goddesses of the river Waal
Vanginehae: goddesses of the meadow
Vatvae: goddesses of prophecy


Alex G. Garman. The Cult of the Matronae in the Roman Rhineland: An Historical Evaluation of the Historical Evidence. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008. 72-73.

Philip A. Shaw. Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2001. 63.

10 responses to “Matronae Epithets: Germanic

  • aediculaantinoi

    Very interesting! Will you be saying more about the ritual at the Con of Pantheas?

    [Also: in your bibliographic info on the book, it should say Edwin Mellen Press…I know them well, they’re my publisher, too!]

    • Heathen Chinese

      Fixed the typo, thank you! There’s actually a long story behind the typo, I will send you an email about it.

      I am going to write about Pantheacon for The Wild Hunt, I don’t know yet how much I will directly/openly/explicitly say about the ritual itself, but they’re very prominent in my life right now, so they will definitely be “behind the scenes” of whatever I end up writing.

  • uloboridae

    Thanks for reminding me I have to get a review out for that book.

  • lornasmithers

    Thanks for these – all really interesting. There are over 50 altars to the Mothers in Britain and I’ve not really worked out which are Celtic and which are Germanic except where the mothers of certain places are addressed. Such a widespread cult.

    • Heathen Chinese

      I loved your piece about the baptismal font in Lund. 🙂 And I’m tripped out that it is under stained glass windows of Faith, Hope and Charity.

      A lot of the inscriptions in Britain (at least those at Hadrian’s Wall) were probably dedicated by Germanic-speaking soldiers serving in the legions, too, weren’t they? I read that one of them was to the Matres Transmarinae – “the mothers across the sea.” Quite a literal-minded epithet. 😉

      • lornasmithers

        Yes, there were alot of dedications by German soldiers – ‘To the German Mother Goddesses’ being the most obvious one. I’ve not thought much about the presence of German speaking people in the Roman army before and wonder if there might be links between this and the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons in the 4th century. It seems possible the Mothers the Fates, who were worshipped widely here may have a Germanic or Germanic influenced origin. Certainly worth looking into to 🙂

      • Heathen Chinese

        Wikipedia, citing Dark Age Naval Power: A Re-assessment of Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Seafaring Activity as a source, says that the Saxons were first mentioned (for sure) during the reign of Julian (called “the Apostate” by the Christians):

        The first undisputed mention of the Saxon name in its modern form is from AD 356, when Julian, later the Roman Emperor, mentioned them in a speech as allies of Magnentius, a rival emperor in Gaul. Zosimus also mentions a specific tribe of Saxons, called the Kouadoi, which have been interpreted as the Chauci. They entered the Rhineland and displaced the recently settled Salian Franks from Batavi, whereupon some of the Salians began to move into the Belgian territory of Toxandria, supported by Julian.

      • lornasmithers

        Thank you, that’s interesting and resonant for me as my Dad’s line of the family (Smithers) are Saxon. Some of the other research I’ve uncovered is that the people who became the Saxons inhabited and perhaps arose from Doggerland and did quite a lot of travelling into Britain and back before the water levels rose.

      • Heathen Chinese

        Wow, that’s really cool!

        I checked about the Angles, too, but while the references to them in Roman texts are more solid, they seem to have been living outside of the Empire.

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