Pomona, Goddess of Apples

Pomona was the ancient Roman goddess of orchards and fruit trees. Image by Stuart McCall/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Pomona was a Roman goddess who was the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit. She doesn’t appear to have had any Greek counterpart at all, and is uniquely Roman.

In Ovid's writings, Pomona is a virginal wood nymph who rejected several suitors before finally marrying Vertumnus - and the only reason she married him was because he disguised himself as an old woman, and then offered Pomona advice on who she should marry. Vertumnus turned out to be quite lusty, and so the two of them are responsible for the prolific nature of apple trees. Pomona doesn't appear very often in mythology, but she does have a festival that she shares with her husband, celebrated on August 13.

Despite her being a rather obscure deity, Pomona's likeness appears many times in classical art, including paintings by Rubens and Rembrandt, and a number of sculptures. She is typically represented as a lovely maiden with an armful of fruit and a pruning knife in one hand. In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Professor Sprout, the teacher of Herbology -- the study of magical plants -- is named Pomona.

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Wigington, Patti. "Pomona, Goddess of Apples." Learn Religions, Sep. 12, 2021, learnreligions.com/pomona-goddess-of-apples-2562306. Wigington, Patti. (2021, September 12). Pomona, Goddess of Apples. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/pomona-goddess-of-apples-2562306 Wigington, Patti. "Pomona, Goddess of Apples." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/pomona-goddess-of-apples-2562306 (accessed June 2, 2023).