Selene

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Selene
The statue of Selene
The statue of Selene
The goddess of the Moon
AbodeMoon
ConsortEndymion
ParentsHyperion and Theia
SiblingsHelios and Eos
ChildrenPandia
Roman equivalentLuna
 
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Selene
The statue of Selene
The statue of Selene
The goddess of the Moon
AbodeMoon
ConsortEndymion
ParentsHyperion and Theia
SiblingsHelios and Eos
ChildrenPandia
Roman equivalentLuna

In Greek mythology, Selene (Greek Σελήνη [selɛ̌ːnɛː] 'moon';) was an archaic lunar deity and the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia.[1] Her equivalent in ancient Roman religion and myth is Luna, Latin for "moon".

Contents

Myths

Detail of a sarcophagus depicting Endymion and Selene, shown with her characteristic attributes of lunate crown and velificatio[2]

Genealogy

In the traditional pre-Olympian divine genealogy, Helios, the sun, is Selene's brother: after Helios finishes his journey across the sky, Selene, freshly washed in the waters of Earth-circling Oceanus,[3] begins her own journey as night falls upon the earth, which becomes lit from the radiance of her immortal head and golden crown.[3] When she is increasing after mid-month, it is a "sure token and a sign to mortal men." Her sister, Eos, is goddess of the dawn. Eos also carried off a human lover, Cephalus,[4] which mirrors a myth of Selene and Endymion.

As a result of Selene being conflated with Artemis, later writers sometimes referred to Selene as a daughter of Zeus, like Artemis, or of Pallas the Titan. In the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, with its characteristically insistent patrilineality, she is "bright Selene, daughter of the lord Pallas, Megamedes' son."

Lovers

Apollonius of Rhodes (4.57ff) refers to Selene, "daughter of Titan", who "madly" loved a mortal, the handsome hunter or shepherd—or, in the version Pausanias knew, a king— of Elis, named Endymion, from Asia Minor. In other Greek references to the myth, he was so handsome that Selene asked Zeus to grant him eternal sleep so that he would stay forever young and thus would never leave her: her asking permission of Zeus reveals itself as an Olympian transformation of an older myth: Cicero (Tusculanae Disputationes) recognized that the moon goddess had acted autonomously. Alternatively, Endymion made the decision to live forever in sleep. Every night, Selene slipped down behind Mount Latmus near Miletus to visit him.[5]

Selene had fifty daughters, the Menae, by Endymion, including Naxos, the nymph of Naxos Island. The sanctuary of Endymion at Heracleia under Latmus on the southern slope of Latmus still exists as a horseshoe-shaped chamber with an entrance hall and pillared forecourt.

According to Virgil[6] she also had a brief tryst with Pan, who seduced her by wrapping himself in a sheepskin[7] and gave her the yoke of white oxen that drew the chariot in which she is represented in sculptured reliefs, with her windblown veil above her head like the arching canopy of sky. In the Homeric hymn, her chariot is drawn by long-maned horses.

Luna

The Roman goddess, Luna, had a temple on the Aventine Hill. It was built in the sixth century BC, but was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome during Nero's reign. There was also a temple dedicated to Luna Noctiluca ("Luna that shines by night") on the Palatine Hill. There were festivals in honor of Luna on March 31, August 24 and August 29.[8][9]

In popular culture

Notes

  1. ^ Bibliotheke of Pseudo-Apollodorus, 1.2.2; Hesiod gives a list of the offspring of Hyperion and Theia in Theogony, lines 371ff. In the Homeric Hymn to Helios, Theia is given the name Euryphaessa, the "far-shining" one, an epithet that would apply to Selene herself.
  2. ^ Stefania Sorrenti, "Les représentations figurées de Jupiter Dolichénien à Rome," in La terra sigillata tardo-italica decorata del Museo nazionale romano, «L'Erma» di Bretschneider, 1999), p. 370.
  3. ^ a b Homeric Hymn.
  4. ^ Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek Religion (p. 176).
  5. ^ Apollonius, loc. cit.; Pausanias v.1.5.
  6. ^ Virgil, Georgics, iii.391.
  7. ^ Kerenyi, Karl (1951) The Gods of the Greeks (pp. 19, 197). 1951.
  8. ^ Grimal, Pierre (1986). The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (p. 262). Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-20102-5.
  9. ^ Hammond, N.G.L. & Scullard, H.H. (Eds.) (1970). The Oxford Classical Dictionary (p. 625). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869117-3.

External links