Epona is an important goddess of the ancient Continental Celts, always linked to the horse; her name is implied by the expressions ‘Divine Horse’ and ‘Horse-goddess’.
She is com-memorated in more surviving inscriptions and statues than any other early goddess.
Although only known from Roman contexts, the name Epona is from the Celtic language Gaulish; it is derived from epos, horse or epa, mare (compare Latin equus, Greek hippo) together with the -on- frequently, but not exclusively, found in theonyms (for example Sirona, Matronae), and the usual Gaulish feminine singular -a. (Delmarre, 2003 pp.163-164).
Most often Epona is portrayed on horseback, usually clothed and riding side-saddle, accompanied by a bird, dog, and foal.
At thermal springs, such as Allerey and Saulonla-Chapelle, she appears nude and nymph-like.
A triple Epona was found at Hogondange in the Moselle valley, which may explain the occasional plural form of her name, Eponabus.
Sometimes Epona is portrayed riding a great horned goose.
Epona is particularly a goddess of fertility, as shown by her attributes of a patera, cornucopia, ears of grain and the presence of foals in some sculptures.
She and her horses might also have been leaders of the soul in the after-life ride, with parallels in Rhiannon of the Mabinogion.
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