Diana of the Romans (myth)

   Diana, in Roman mythology, the god­dess of the moon, of the open air of the country, mountains, and forests. Since her attributes were similar to those of the Greek Artemis, the two were in later times identified. Originally, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus, and twin sister of Apollo. Apollo was the god of day, of light, of music, and of song. He was called Phoe­bus, the shining one, and, because of her close association with him, his sister was called Phoebe. Apollo came to be identi­fied with Helios, god of the sun; so Ar­temis was identified with Selene, goddess of the moon. Thus the three distinct char­acters, Diana of the Romans, and Artemis and Selene of the Greeks, were gradually-confounded, although in some re­spects stories concerning them were con­tradictory. For instance, Diana—at her own desire, for she had many suitors— remained a virgin, while Selene became the mother of fifty daughters. Finally, in the times of the later mythology, Diana, either on account of her character or her name, became the favorite; and the stories of Artemis or Selene or any goddess asso­ciated with the moon, as Luna and Hecate, gathered about her figure, which is most often seen in representations of art.

   Diana is to be identified with the witch­ing influence of mellow moonlight. At her own request Zeus permitted her to re­main unmarried, and caused thirty cities to celebrate her worship. Diana was devoted to the chase. Accompanied by her nymphs, she delighted in a forest life and in hunt­ing. Agamemnon having unwittingly killed a stag sacred to Diana, she sent a plague upon the camp of the Greeks before Troy. She was appeased only by the sacrifice of the chieftain's daughter, whom she snatched from the altar, however, and bore away, leaving a hind in her place. She became infatuated also with the giant, Orion, whose death was brought about by Apollo through a ruse. She punished Actaeon, the hunter, for surprising her while bathing in a foun­tain, by changing him into a stag, so that he was torn to pieces by his own hounds.

   In art, Diana is represented commonly as a light-footed maiden of the chase, carry­ing a bow and a quiver full of arrows. One of the most renowned temples of her worship was at Ephesus.