A Roman divinity presiding over and protecting the hinges of doors (cardo, "door hinge"). What Ovid1 relates of Carna belongs to Cardea: the poet seems, in fact, in that passage to confound three distinct divinities — Carna, Cardea, and Crane, the last of whom he declares to be merely an ancient form of Carna.

Cardea was beloved by Janus, and after yielding to his embraces, the god rewarded her by giving her the protection of the hinges of doors, and the power of preventing evil daemons from entering houses. She especially protected little children in their cradles against formidable night-birds, which witches used to metamorphose themselves into, and thus to attack children by night time, tearing them from their cradles and sucking the blood out of them. Cardea exercised this power by means of white thorn and other magic substances, and is said to have done so first in the case of Procas, prince of Alba.

Ovid says of Cardea, apparently quoting a religious formula, "Her power is to open what is shut; to shut what is open."



  1. Ovid. Fasti vi, 101 ff.


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
  • Tertullian. On the military garland, 13.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.