|A relief of Epona, from Roman Macedonia.|
Epona's Celtic/Gaulish origins are understandable. Ancestors of the Gauls of Northern France and of the Celts came from nomadic tribes who spread from the East throughout Europe. Horses, for them, were of prime value in facilitating travel. Later, in ancient Rome, the horse in war - one of Rome's favourite pastimes - became priceless. Even later, and for centuries on, horses became a natural dynamo of agriculture. So, a means of transportation, a symbol of wealth and power, a part of religion, and a necessity in war and in agriculture - no wonder horses were eligible for their own goddess!
The Greeks, never shy of inventing a good story, had a tale about the birth of Epona. A Greek writer, Agesilaos, came up with this: Epona was the daughter of a man named Phoulonios Stellos, who, not interested in women, mated with a mare. That mare gave birth to a human-shaped daughter, Epona.
Though I've never had much to do with horses myself, I do enjoy looking at 'em - I have a small collection of horse sculptures. Maybe a little of the ancient horse worship is in my genes. My two maternal great-grandfathers worked with horses as both grooms and carters, a discovery made while researching my family's history.
So...Hail to Epona then!
Here are a couple of my horses, and a painting by my husband: