I always wondered if Italy had myths that were not similar to the Greeks. There are the Etruscan Myths, but that is not very well known. When searching, you are more likely to come across the mythology of Romans because they were such a large part in history. Greek and Roman myths are almost the exact same, and that is because the Roman’s adopted much of their religion. So I am excited when I find a Roman myth that is not considered Greco-Roman. The story of Pomona and Vertumnus is a sweet love story that reminds me of a fairy tale more than mythology. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may have seen Pomona’s name before as the name of the Professor of herbology. But let me begin by introducing our main characters.
Warning there is a picture that reveals boobs.
Pomona is the Goddess of Abundance and Fruitfulness. She is the one known for cultivation, and protection of fruit trees. She is actually a wood nymph and part of the Numen (guardian spirits or holy spirits). Pomona is attributed to orchards, knives meant to trim plants, fruit trees, groves, and gardens. She has no Greek counter part and is a perfectly Roman Goddess. Even though she is a Goddess associated with fruit, she is not associated with harvest (which is rare in most mythologies).
Vertumnus is the god of seasons. I would put a picture of him, but the most famous ‘portrait’ is one of him made completely of fruits, and it kind of gives me the creeps. Anyways, Vertumnus is also the God of Plant Growth and Change. He shares some attributes with Pomona in that he is also ascribed to gardens and fruit trees. He has the ability to change his form at will; and though he does not have a Greek equivalent, he does have an Etruscan equivalent.
Pomona was a well beloved goddess who had many suitors requesting her hand in marriage, yet she refused most every man that came to her. Vertimus was also very smitten by the beautiful wood nymph, and seeing her refuse all those men, he devised a clever plan to win her. Disguising himself as an old woman, Vertimus ventured into her garden. She praised the fruits and the trees and warned Pomona of living a life with out a husband (cause you cannot be fruitful with out both a male and female). He compared her to Helen of Troy and Penelope Queen of Ithaca and advice her to accept Vertumnus’s request for marriage because he loves fruits, gardens, and her. The old woman then goes on to say that he is so in love with Pomona that he is losing his ability to do his godly duties, and that she would be cruel to leave him that way comparing her to Anaxarete (whose own story features a young man who is tormented by his love to her). After recounting the story and driving in the advice, he takes off the disguise. The nymph fell in love him and accepted his proposal.
If you would like to read a more detailed version of the myth along with dialogue, then please check it out here: http://www.online-mythology.com/vertumnus_pomona/