Niva

The Origin of Snow

There was a goddess who was known by few of the Romans and none of the Greeks. She came to be known as the goddess of snow, Niva. She was not known to the Greeks is a very simple one. The climate in Greece was warm all year long. The weather didn't get cold enough for Niva to visit. The few Romans who did know of her were the ones that lived in the north at the foot of the mountains. We only know about this young goddess through a text recently found by a teenage girl from New York who visited the mountains of Rome on her Summer vacation.
Niva was the daughter of Venus and Vulcan before Vulcan disowned her. Vulcan was the god of fire and he was the only one of the gods that was described as ugly. Niva was not ugly. She was beautiful, like her mother. Venus was the goddess of love and beauty. Niva's beauty was not the same as Venus', but by no means was it less. Niva's beauty was delicate like a flower as compared to the exotic beauty that belonged to Venus.

Niva loved to take her time and encouraged others to stop rushing things that were not important. Staying calm and levelheaded was important to her. The phrase "stop and smell the roses" was invented by her and she lived it every day. It surprised many that she was so even tempered because her father was the god of fire and her mother was a very jealous goddess.
This young goddess was a comfort to all of the other gods and goddess. She was able to soothe them. She could bring them down off of the summit of their anger to the calm shores of relaxation. Jupiter, the king of the gods, was no exception. Often when he was angered by disobeying mortals or gods who refused to obey his orders, Juno, his wife and queen of the gods, would call for Niva and after an hour she would have mollified him enough that he forgave whoever angered him. Humanity owed Niva a debt of gratitude because before Juno knew to call Niva, Jupiter would let his anger out by sending fierce thunderstorms to earth. All of the gods looked kindly on Niva. Even if they disagreed with her, the clash of opinions would never rise to a level above a spirited debate. All of the gods felt this way, except Niva's own parents.

Niva's mother looked on Niva with distaste because people compared their beauty. Since Venus was a jealous goddess, she didn't like to have competition for the tittle "the fairest," even if it was her own daughter. When a slighted goddess threw the golden apple in the midst of the gods at a party, Juno and Minerva knew the golden apple belonged to Niva but they also knew Venus would never give it her so they competed with her for it. Niva did not want to anger her mother and make their relationship worse, so she asked Juno and Minerva not to say it belonged to her. It made Niva happy just to be thought the most beautiful by Juno, and the goddess of wisdom, Minerva.

Niva's relationship with her father was wonderful when she was little. As a child she would sit on his lap and they would dream together of the day she would follow in his footsteps. Vulcan was the fire and the smith god. He built many things for the various immortals throughout the world. When Niva was old enough, she tried to work at the forge with her father. For every point Niva gained for being willing to help her father, she lost two because she simply wasn't able to. She was a delicate goddess and heat made her uneasy and caused her to feel fatigue. The more time she spent in the heat did not cause her to grow used to it. On the contrary, she would get sicker and sicker until she left for a cooler place.

Vulcan was disappointed after the first time he brought Niva to work with him, but he brought her again and again hoping she would get better. It became painfully obvious that Niva simply couldn't do it because she didn't have the physical strength to do it. It didn't help that her pale complexion couldn't stand up against the heat of the forge. Eventually, Vulcan grew so disgusted with his daughter he couldn't look at her. How could a daughter of his not be able to work into the forge? It was obvious to him she couldn't do it because she didn't try.

Life at home went from bad to worse for Niva. Before Vulcan proclaimed her useless, she only had her mother's jealousy to contend with. Before Niva's uselessness at the forge was revealed Niva and Vulcan would comfort each other when Venus went into rages over mortals comparing other mortals with the goddess of love and beauty. Now Vulcan confined himself to his forge when Venus flew into a rage, leaving Niva to deal with it herself. Niva's talent that allowed her to soothe people disappeared when it came to her mother because often Niva was the object of her rancor.
Between her mother's hatred and her father's disappointment, Niva couldn't take it any more and decided her home was not a good place for her. She concluded the best choice was to run away. Now she had to decide where to go. She disliked heat and decided that the mountains were the best place to go. Mount Olympus was not a choice because Jupiter was a fair god and he would not play favorites. He would have made her go home.

Off to the mountains she went. After a week of traveling as a mortal, Mercury found her. He brought her a message. Vulcan was so enraged when he found out she had sun away he disowned her on the spot and persuaded Jupiter to declare no god or goddess was to take her in. When she heard the message Mercury brought her she wept. Even though she had known it would happen, it is one thing to know something and another thing for you to see it happen. She was inconsolable and cried so much she faded away.

During winter, the season in which she ran away, Niva comes back in the form of snow. She coats the world in beauty and forces us to slow down and admire it so that we will not get angry over the little things. Each snowflake is different. This is her reminder to us that we are all different and must accept each other without jealousy or disappointment. Niva comes back year after year, avoiding the hot places her father loves, reminding us to look for the good in life and to stop and smell the roses. Do you listen?