Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Diana, the Roman goddess of the moon and the patroness of virginity and hunting. She was also revered as the protector of children. As an emblem of chastity she was especially venerated by young maidens, they sacrificed their hair to her before marrying. Her name was first known as Diviana meaning "to shine".Diana was the daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Her twin brother was Apollo and as he was god of the sun, his sister was the goddess of the moon. The Greek counterpart of this ancient Roman deity was Artemis.
Who was Diana?
Diana was the Roman goddess of the moon and hunting. She was worshipped at a festival on August 13 called Nemoralia, the Festival of Torches during which worshippers of Diana would form a procession of torches and candles around the dark waters of the sacred Lacus Nemorensis, or forest-buried lake, near Aricia, referred to as Diana's Mirror. Aricia is a town in the Province of Rome in the Alban Hills of the Lazio (Latium) region. The lights of their candles and torches joined the light of the moon reflecting upon the surface of the water. During the Festival of Nemoralia it was forbidden to hunt and kill animals. Diana was often depicted in art with the crescent of the moon above her forehead as can be seen in the picture.
Picture of the hunting Goddess Diana and the crescent of the moon above her forehead
Facts about Diana
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Diana:
Roman Name: Diana
Role & Function: The function of this goddess is described as being the goddess of the moon and hunting
Status: Major Goddess and one of the 'Dei Consentes', the Council of Gods.
Symbols: The cypress tree, deer, the bow and arrow, hounds, and the moon
Alternative Names: Diviana
Greek Counterpart: The Greek name for this goddess was Artemis
Name of Husband: Unmarried
Name of Father: Jupiter
Name of Mother: Latona
Names of Children: None
Facts about Diana in Roman History and ancient Mythology
Discover interesting information and facts about the Roman goddess of the moon and hunting.
She was the virgin daughter of Jupiter and Latona and her twin brother was Apollo, god of the sun
Her symbol of the cypress tree traditionally represented mourning and grief and relates to Diana because, like her brother Apollo, although associated with healing she could also bring terrible diseases.
Her symbol of the deer relates to the myth about the Ceryneian hind that was briefly kidnapped by Heracles (Hercules) as part of his 12 labors.
As goddess of the moon the ancients believed that every evening she mounted her moon chariot, and drove her pure white horses across the heavens
Her hunting dogs were given to her by Pan, the god of forest who gave her seven female dogs and six males.
She was extremely possessive and selfish. Diana would wreck revenge on anyone who did not obey her wishes and valued her chastity so greatly that she took terrible measures against anyone who even slightly threatened her
She was noted as a tall goddess and was depicted wearing a short hunting dress called a buskin
The statues of the goddess were generally erected at a point where three roads met, for which reason she is identified with Trivia and Hecate
A temple was dedicated to her on the Aventine hill in Rome by Servius Tullius, who is said to have first introduced the worship of the goddess into Rome.
The festival of Nemoralia was eventually adopted by Roman Catholics as the Feast of the Assumption
Diana (Greek Counterpart was Artemis)
The Romans habitually assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Greeks and other nations. When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC many of the Greek gods and goddesses were adopted by the Romans. The Romans simply changed the Greek gods names to Latin equivalents. The Greek counterpart of Diana was Artemis. The Roman religion significantly differed from the Greeks in that it was officially endorsed by the state and exerted influence over the government of Rome. Politicians took the offices of influential priests, called pontiffs, to gain control of the popular worship, Roman gods and goddesses like Diana were worshipped at every public event, including the gladiatorial games, where blood sacrifices were made to the gods. In ancient Rome, the pantheon of 12 major gods, including Diana, were called the 'Dei Consentes' meaning the Council of Gods.