Etruscan deity of the dead and the underworld. Later assimilated into Roman mythology and related to Pluto. Married to Mania, a goddess of the underworld as well. If Mantus was a well-known figure in the ancient world, then very little information has survived to tell us anything about him. In fact, it seems there is more information about his wife Mania than there is about Mantus.
Considering that Mantus and Mania are always paired together, then in artwork and statues the two would appear together as well. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any pictures to tell me what either one looks like.
Mythology and Worship
According to one source, Mania was known to the Greeks as “Daughter of Night” and was the source of moonsickness (insanity). The same source suggested that children were sacrificed to her, but I have some doubts about the truth of Greeks sacrificing children to any god–and if they did do so, it was not a common practice. Since it’s unlikely the Greeks practiced this, it’s possible that it could have been an Etruscan tradition. The Greeks related Mania to the “evil” nymph Lara, who was the mother of the Manes (the souls of the dead), and was so talkative that Zeus cut out her tongue. This is something of a far cry from her role in Etruscan myth, in which she was a goddess of the underworld and consort of Mantus, and possibly nothing more. One source called the pair “guardians” of the underworld. After the ancient period of history passed, Mania, at least, survived in literature and folklore in the Tuscany area as a figure who brought nightmares.
Light and Dark Sides
Considering the relatively scant information available about this duo, pinning down their Light and Dark sides is somewhat difficult. Mania would seem to be a figure who causes madness and nightmares and accepts the sacrifices of children. While both are listed as guardians of the underworld, only Mania seems to have the bad reputation of being a Dark deity. Mantus, unfortunately, seems to fade in comparison to his wife. On the positive side, it seems that Mantus is a guardian, so he protects the underworld and the spirits therein. As for Mania, she also begins as a guardian of the underworld in the Etruscan myths, but is turned into something darker when she is assimilated into Greek culture. Likely the part about her accepting the souls of slain children is an Etruscan tradition, and possibly is meant to mean that she accepts the souls of those children into her care, which is a positive attribute. The Greeks turned her into a mother, the mother of the souls of the underworld (the Manes), which is a positive attribute as well. However, in the later literature she is said to be the cause of madness and nightmares, which is more of a negative trait than positive.