Very little is known about the goddess Exomna, who is honoured in a single dedication from Alem, situated north of s-Hertogenbosch (the Netherlands), in the territory of the Germanic Batavi: Deae Exomnae Annius Vitalis v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito), ‘To the goddess Exomna, Annius Vitalis paid his vow willingly and deservedly’.1561 The praenomen* of the dedicator Annius may be Celtic,1562 while his nomen*, Vitalis, is Latin. Even though the inscription was discovered in the land of a Germanic sept*, her name is undoubtedly Celtic. This can be explained by the proximity between Celtic and Germanic peoples in this area. Exomna is composed of the privative particle ex(s) ‘without’ and of the word obnos > omnos, ‘fear’, cf. the Old Irish adjective essamain, ‘without fear’; hence Exomna, ‘the One who is Without Fear’ or ‘the Bold One’.1563 According to Spickermann, the epithet Exsobinius (*Exs-obn-io-), given to Mars Lenus in Virton (Belgium), is the masculine version of Exomna, with a –bn- variant: Leno Marti Exsobin(i) Novic(ius) et Expectatus vslm, ‘To Mars Lenus Exsobinius Novicius and Expectatus paid their vow willingly and deservedly’.1564
Her name denoting fearlessness, it can be suggested that Exomana was a war-like goddess related to battle and combat, who embodied the bravery of warriors and made them take fresh heart when they became discouraged. She might have represented the valour of Celtic warriors, who braved death and gave their life for the safety of their own people. War was a question of honour, dignity and pride: the Celtic warrior fought to the death rather than be humiliated and disgraced.1565
AE 1965, 328 ; RDG, p. 81 ; Bogaers, 1962-1963, pp. 39-86. The Batavi were a Germanic tribe inhabiting the present-day Betuwe district, around Lugdunum Batavorum (Leiden), at the mouth of the Rhine River.
Delamarre, 2007, p.23.
Delamarre, 2003, p. 170 ; Delamarre, 2007, p. 221 ; Spickermann, 2005, p. 140.
CIL XIII, 3970 ; Spickermann, 2005, p. 140 ; Delamarre, 2007, p. 100.
Brunaux, 2000, pp. 211-213.