2) Bormana (‘the Bubbling One’)

The goddess Bormana is known from two inscriptions discovered in Aix-en-Diois (Die), where she is partnered with Bormanus, and in Saint-Vulbaz (Ain), where she is honoured on her own. Bormana is obviously the feminine form of Bormanus, which is a variant of Bormo/Borvo. Other divine couples bearing the same name are known, such as Visucius and Visucia. Bormana can be therefore understood as a doublet of the healing god. In view of her name, which derives from Gaulish borvo or bormo, ‘hot spring’ and means ‘the Bubbler’ or ‘the Boiler’,Bormana is the literal personification of hot springs.2078

The inscription found in Saint-Vulbaz, anciently Saint-Bourbaz, situated near Belley (Ain), is engraved on two fragments of an altar, which are respectively housed in the rural museum of the village and embedded in the wall of a mill at nearby Convers.2079 The exact place of discovery of this stone is unknown. It was unearthed somewhere near the source of the stream La Bormane, the name of which is reminiscent of the cult of Bormana. The name of the goddess also survived in the ancient name of the locality Saint-Bourbaz, which derives from a Gaulish *borṷā possibly designating a ‘muddy spring’.2080 The inscription reads: Bormonae Aug(ustae) sacr(um) Caprii A[t]ratinus, […] S]abinian[us] d(e) s(uo) d(onaverunt), ‘Sacred to Augustus and to Bormana, Caprius Atratinus […] (and) Caprius Sabinianus offered (this monument) at their own expense’.2081 The inscription is offered by two dedicators who bear Latin names and are Roman citizens, for they bear the duo nomina. The waters of Saint-Vulbaz are profuse, clear and fresh but are not known to have thermal virtues.2082 The Gallo-Roman remains discovered in the area tend to prove that the waters were known and used in Gallo-Roman times. These include a genius holding a cornucopia*, statues of Diana, Minerva and Asklepius - the Greco-Roman god of medicine - and many coins dating from the beginning of the Empire to Julien l’Apostat (1st c. BC-4th c. AD),.2083

The second inscription, engraved on a small altar, was discovered at the beginning of the 19th c. at a place known as ‘L’Oche’, in the cemetery of Aix-en-Diois (Drôme), sixty metres from a place known as ‘Fontanelles’, where a mineral spring gushes forth.2084 Remains of a Gallo-Roman thermal establishment were unearthed in the area. Aix-en-Diois is besidesa village which is famous for its saline waters. The inscription is the following: Borman[o] et Borman[ae]. P(ublius) Saprin[ius] Eusebes votum solvit libens merito, ‘To Bormanus and to Bormana, Publius Saprinius Eusebes paid his vow willingly and deservedly’.2085 The dedicator, who bears the tria nomina of Roman citizens, thanks the divine couple for answering a vow he had previously made. It is now housed in the Musée Municipal de Die. It is clear that Bormanus and Bormana were revered in relation to the saline waters of Aix-en-Diois, which were believed to relieve pilgrims from their pains.


Delamarre, 2003, pp. 82-83, 425 ; Lambert, 1995, pp. 29, 37, 192 ; Olmsted, 1994, pp. 354-355, 388 ; Lacroix, 2007, p. 149.


Lhote-Ribot, 2004, vol. 2, p. 138.


The French word bourbe, ‘mud’ is derived from this word. Delamarre, 2003, p. 83 ; Thévenot, 1968, p. 103 ; Rémy & Buisson, 1992, p. 241 ; Lacroix, 2007, p. 149.


CIL XIII, 2452 ; RE, vol. 2, p. 284 & vol. 3, pp. 383-384 ; Vallentin, 1879-1880, pp. 6-7 ; Troisgros, 1975, pp. 25-26 ; CAG, 01, L’Ain, 1990, p. 95.


Bonnard, 1908, p. 190, note 2 ; Bourgeois, 1991, p. 30.


Rodet, 1908, pp. 24-25.


Lhote-Birot, 2004, vol. 1, p. 97


CIL XII, 1561 ; Vallentin, 1879-1880, p. 48 ; RE, vol. 3, p. 382 & vol. 2, p. 284 ; Troisgros, 1975, p. 26 ; CAG, XI, Drôme, 1957, p. 71, n°78.