Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Bellona

BELLONA, in Roman Mythology, the goddess of war, corresponding to the Greek Enyo, and called now the sister or daughter of Mars, now his charioteer or his nurse. Her worship appears to have been promoted in Rome chiefly by the family of the Claudii, whose Sabine origin, together with their use of the name of “Nero,” has suggested an identification of Bellona with the Sabine war goddess Nerio. Her temple at Rome, founded by Appius Claudius Cæcus, 296 B.C., stood in the Campus Martius, near the Flaminian Circus, and outside the gates of the city. It was there that the senate met to discuss the claims of a general to a triumph, and to receive ambassadors from foreign states. In front of it was the columna bellica where the ceremony of declaring war was performed. From this native Italian goddess is to be distinguishad the Asiatic Bellona, whose worship was introduced into Rome from Comana, in Cappadocia, apparently by Sulla, to whom she had appeared, urging him to march to Rome and bathe in the blood of his enemies. For her a new temple was built, and a college of priests (Bellonarii) instituted to conduct her fanatical rites, the prominent feature of which was to lacerate themselves and sprinkle the blood on the spectators. To make the scene more grim they wore black dresses from head to foot.