Alma mater (Latin: alma mater , lit. 'nourishing mother'; pl. [rarely used] almae matres) is an allegorical Latin phrase for a university, school, or college that one formerly attended. In US usage, it can also mean the school from which one graduated. The phrase is variously translated as "nourishing mother", "nursing mother", or "fostering mother", suggesting that a school provides intellectual nourishment to its students. Fine arts will often depict educational institutions using a robed woman.
As a literary device, an allegory is a metaphor in which a character, place or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences. Allegory has occurred widely throughout history in all forms of art, largely because it can readily illustrate or convey complex ideas and concepts in ways that are comprehensible or striking to its viewers, readers, or listeners.
A university is an institution of higher education and research which awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate or federal university, an institution offering vocational education or a secondary school.
Before its current usage, alma mater was an honorific title for various Latin mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele,and later in Catholicism for the Virgin Mary. It entered academic usage when the University of Bologna adopted the motto Alma Mater Studiorum ("nurturing mother of studies"), which describes its heritage as the oldest operating university in the Western world. It is related to alumnus , a term used for a university graduate that literally means a "nursling" or "one who is nourished".
An epithet is a byname, or a descriptive term, accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It can also be a descriptive title: for example, Pallas Athena, Alfred the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent or Władysław I the Elbow-high.
A mother goddess is a goddess who represents, or is a personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres". Her seven-day April festival of Cerealia included the popular Ludi Ceriales. She was also honoured in the May lustratio of the fields at the Ambarvalia festival, at harvest-time, and during Roman marriages and funeral rites.
Although alma (nourishing) was a common epithet for Ceres, Cybele, Venus, and other mother goddesses, it was not frequently used in conjunction with mater in classical Latin.In the Oxford Latin Dictionary , the phrase is attributed to Lucretius' De rerum natura , where it is used as an epithet to describe an earth goddess:
Cybele is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible forerunner in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations. She is Phrygia's only known goddess, and was probably its national deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BC.
Venus is a Roman goddess, whose functions encompassed love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory. In Roman mythology, she was the ancestor of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.
The Oxford Latin Dictionary is the standard English lexicon of Classical Latin, compiled from sources written before AD 200. Begun in 1933, it was published in fascicles between 1968 and 1982; a lightly revised second edition was released in 2012.
Denique caelesti sumus omnes semine oriundi
omnibus ille idem pater est, unde alma liquentis
umoris guttas mater cum terra recepit (2.991–93)
We are all sprung from that celestial seed,
all of us have same father, from whom earth,
the nourishing mother, receives drops of liquid moisture
After the fall of Rome, the term came into Christian liturgical usage in association with the Virgin Mary. "Alma Redemptoris Mater" is a well-known 11th century antiphon devoted to Mary.
Alma Redemptoris Mater is a Marian hymn, written in Latin hexameter, and one of four seasonal liturgical Marian antiphons sung at the end of the office of Compline.
An antiphon is a short chant in Christian ritual, sung as a refrain. The texts of antiphons are the Psalms. Their form was favored by St Ambrose and they feature prominently in Ambrosian chant, but they are used widely in Gregorian chant as well. They may be used during Mass, for the Introit, the Offertory or the Communion. They may also be used in the Liturgy of the Hours, typically for Lauds or Vespers.
The earliest documented use of the term to refer to a university in an English-speaking country is in 1600, when the University of Cambridge printer, John Legate, began using an emblem for the university's press.The device's first-known appearance is on the title-page of William Perkins' A Golden Chain, where the Latin phrase Alma Mater Cantabrigia ("nourishing mother Cambridge") is inscribed on a pedestal bearing a nude, lactating woman wearing a mural crown. In English etymological reference works, the first university-related usage is often cited in 1710, when an academic mother figure is mentioned in a remembrance of Henry More by Richard Ward.
The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history, influence and wealth of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Cambridge University Press (CUP) is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world. It also holds letters patent as the Queen's Printer.
William Perkins (1558–1602) was an influential English cleric and Cambridge theologian, receiving both a B.A. and M.A. from the university in 1581 and 1584 respectively, and also one of the foremost leaders of the Puritan movement in the Church of England during the Elizabethan era. Although not entirely accepting of the Church of England's ecclesiastical practices, Perkins conformed to many of the policies and procedures imposed by the Elizabethan Settlement. He did remain, however, sympathetic to the non-conformist puritans and even faced disciplinary action for his support.
Many historic European universities have adopted Alma Mater as part of the Latin translation of their official name. The University of Bologna Latin name, Alma Mater Studiorum (nourishing mother of studies), refers to its status as the oldest continuously operating university in the world. Other European universities, such as the Alma Mater Lipsiensis in Leipzig, Germany, or Alma Mater Jagiellonica, Poland, have similarly used the expression in conjunction with geographical or foundational characteristics. At least one, the Alma Mater Europaea in Salzburg, Austria, an international university founded by the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2010, uses the term as its official name.
The University of Bologna is a research university in Bologna, Italy. Founded in 1088 by an organised guild of students, it is the oldest university in the world, as well as one of the leading academic institutions in Italy and Europe. It is one of the most prestigious Italian universities, commonly ranking in the first places of national rankings.
Leipzig University, in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the world's oldest universities and the second-oldest university in Germany. The university was founded on December 2, 1409 by Frederick I, Elector of Saxony and his brother William II, Margrave of Meissen, and originally comprised the four scholastic faculties. Since its inception, the university has engaged in teaching and research for over 600 years without interruption.
The Jagiellonian University is a research university in Kraków, Poland.
In the United States, the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, has been called the "Alma Mater of the Nation" because of its ties to the country's founding.At Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, the main student government is known as the Alma Mater Society.
The ancient Roman world had many statues of the Alma Mater, some still extant (e.g., at the Palatine Hill in Rome).
Modern sculptures are found in prominent locations on several American university campuses. For example, in the United States: there is a well-known bronze statue of Alma Mater by Daniel Chester French situated on the steps of Columbia University's Low Library; the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign also has an Alma Mater statue by Lorado Taft. An altarpiece mural in Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library, painted in 1932 by Eugene Savage, depicts the Alma Mater as a bearer of light and truth, standing in the midst of the personified arts and sciences.
Outside the United States, there is an Alma Mater sculpture on the steps of the monumental entrance to the Universidad de La Habana, in Havana, Cuba. The statue was cast in 1919 by Mario Korbel, with Feliciana Villalón Wilson as the inspiration for Alma Mater, and it was installed in its current location in 1927, at the direction of architect Raul Otero.
In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito (Σιτώ), "she of the Grain", as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros, "Law-Bringer", as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.
Rhea or Rheia, in Greek mythology, is a member of the first generation of the Titans, daughter of Gaia and Ouranos. She is the sister and wife of Kronos and mother to the first generation of the Olympian gods, hence her being often referred as "the mother of the gods".
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Tellus Mater or Terra Mater is a goddess of the earth. Although Tellus and Terra are hardly distinguishable during the Imperial era, Tellus was the name of the original earth goddess in the religious practices of the Republic or earlier. The scholar Varro lists Tellus as one of the di selecti, the twenty principal gods of Rome, and one of the twelve agricultural deities. She is regularly associated with Ceres in rituals pertaining to the earth and agricultural fertility.
Lorado Zadok Taft was an American sculptor, writer and educator. Taft was born in Elmwood, Illinois, in 1860 and died in his home studio in Chicago in 1936. Taft was the father of US Representative Emily Taft Douglas, father-in-law to her husband, US Senator Paul Douglas, and a distant relative of US President William Howard Taft.
Alma mater is an allegorical Latin phrase for a university or college.
The Hilaria were ancient Roman religious festivals celebrated on the March equinox to honor Cybele.
Alma Mater is a bronze sculpture by Daniel Chester French which is located on the steps leading to the Low Memorial Library on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City. It is a personification of the traditional image of the University as an alma mater, or "nourishing mother". French designed the statue in 1901 and installed it in September, 1903. It was donated in memory of alumnus Robert Goelet of the Class of 1860 by his wife, Harriette W. Goelet. Alma Mater has become a symbol of the university.
The Temple of Cybele or Temple of Magna Mater was Rome's first and most important temple to the Magna Mater, who was known to the Greeks as Cybele. It was built to house a particular image or form of the goddess, a meteoric stone brought from Greek Asia Minor to Rome in 204 BC at the behest of an oracle and temporarily housed in the goddess of Victory's Palatine temple. The new temple was dedicated on 11 April 191 BC, and Magna Mater's first Megalesia festival was held on the temple's proscenium.
The Alma Mater is a bronze statue by sculptor Lorado Taft, a beloved symbol of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The 10,000-pound statue depicts a mother-figure wearing academic robes and flanked by two attendant figures representing "Learning" and "Labor", after the University's motto "Learning and Labor." Sited at the corner of Green and Wright Streets at the heart of the campus, the statue is an iconic figure for the university and a popular backdrop for student graduation photos. It is appreciated for its romantic, heraldic overtones and warmth of pose. The statue was removed from its site at the entrance to the university for restoration in 2012 and was returned to its site in the spring of 2014.
The sellisternium or solisternium was a ritual banquet for goddesses in the Ancient Roman religion. It was based on a variant of the Greek theoxenias, and was considered an appropriately "greek" form of rite for some Roman goddesses thought to have been originally Greek, or with clearly Greek counterparts. In the traditional Roman lectisternium, the images of attending deities, usually male, reclined on couches along with their male hosts or guests. In the sellisternium, the attending goddesses sat on chairs or benches, usually in the company of exclusively female hosts and guests. A sellisternium for the Magna Mater was part of her ludi Megalenses; a representation of her temple on the Augustan Ara Pietatis probably shows her sellisternum, which includes Attis, her castrated consort. After Rome's great fire of 64 AD, a sellisternium was held to propitiate Juno. The secular games had a sellisternium for Juno and Diana, and according to Macrobius, a seated banquet of the gods and goddesses alike was part of Hercules' cult at the Ara Maxima.
An alumnus or an alumna of a college, university, or other school is a former student who has either attended or graduated in some fashion from the institution. The word is Latin and simply means student. The plural is alumni for men and mixed groups and alumnae for women. The term is not synonymous with "graduate"; one can be an alumnus without graduating. An alumnus can also be and is more recently expanded to include a former employee of an organization and it may also apply to a former member, contributor, or inmate.
Alma is an English feminine given name, but has historically been used in the masculine form as well, sometimes in the form Almo. The origin of the name is debated, it was reserved as a title for classical goddesses as in the use "alma mater". It gained popularity after the Battle of Alma in the 19th century and appeared as a fashionable name for girls and a popular place name, but it has decreased in appearance in the 20th and 21st centuries. The name Alma also has several meanings in a variety of languages, and is generally translated to mean that the child "feeds one's soul" or "lifts the spirit".
The University of Havana or UH is a university located in the Vedado district of Havana, the capital of the Republic of Cuba. Founded on January 5, 1728, the university is the oldest in Cuba, and one of the first to be founded in the Americas. Originally a religious institution, today the University of Havana has 15 faculties (colleges) at its Havana campus and distance learning centers throughout Cuba.
Alma Mater Europaea is an international university based in the Austrian city of Salzburg, with campuses in several European cities. It was founded as an initiative by the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, a learned society of around 1500 prominent scientists, including 29 Nobel laureates.
The arms of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, are blazoned: Gules, on a cross ermine between four lions passant guardant Or, a Bible lying fesseways of the field, clasped and garnished of the third, the clasps in base. Or in layman's terms:
A school, college, or university which one has attended or from which one has graduated