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Diana

Diana

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the woodlands, of wild animals, and of hunting. She also acted as a fertility goddess, who helped women conceive and give birth to children. As Rome's contact with Greece grew in ancient times, Diana became increasingly identified with the Greek goddess Artemis. In time, Diana and Artemis became essentially identical. Most literary references to the goddess use her Roman name, Diana.


Diana's Various Roles

The Romans viewed Diana as a many-sided goddess associated with forests and hunting. Artists usually portrayed her as a virgin hunter, often with a bow and quiver, accompanied by maidens, hunting dogs, or deer.

As goddess of childbirth, nursing, and healingalso called LucinaDiana held an honored place among women. As goddess of light, she represented the moon. However, Diana was also identified with Hecate, the Greek goddess of darkness and witchcraft, and served as goddess of the kingdom of the dead.

Diana's nature was as varied as her many associations. As goddess of forests and hunting, she was considered to be pure and virginal. Yet she could also be arrogant and vengeful. As goddess of the moon, she had a changeable, unpredictable nature. As goddess of the dark world of the dead, she was unforgiving and bloodthirsty.

Because of her connections with creatures of the wild, with the hunt, and with the moon, Diana earned the title of "the triple goddess." Sculptors sometimes created statues of her with three heads: those of a horse, a dog, and a boar. Such statues were displayed at places where three roads met.


Diana's High Priest . The most celebrated place of worship for Diana was a sacred grove beside Lake Nemi, at Aricia near Rome. Associated with Diana at this shrine was the Roman hero Virbius. According to myth, he was Diana's first high priest at Aricia. All the priests who followed had to obtain the position by winning a fight to the death with the current high priest. The new high priest would keep his position until he in turn was conquered in combat. To win the right to fight the high priest, a challenger had to break off a large branch of a sacred oak tree in the grove at Lake Nemi.

Goddess of Ephesus

The ancient Greek city of Ephesus was another center for the worship of Diana. The goddess had a magnificent temple there that took 220 years to construct and was regarded as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Within the temple was a famous ebony statue of Diana. The upper body of the statue was entirely covered with breasts, symbolizing Diana's role as goddess of fertility.

It was said that the high priest had to be a runaway slave. In Rome, Diana was regarded as protector of the lower classes, particularly of slaves. In fact, the day of Diana's annual festival in Rome and Aricia was a holiday for slaves.


The Cult of Diana. The worship of Diana was widespread in the ancient world. Indeed, early Christians considered the pagan goddess their main rival. Diana's cult continued to attract followers for centuries, despite Christian opposition.

pagan term used by early Christians to describe non-Christians and non-Christian beliefs

cult group bound together by devotion to a particular person, belief, or god

In the Middle Ages, Diana was denounced as "queen of the witches" or "goddess of the heathen." Religious leaders viewed her as a leader of witches and even referred to her as the devil. Nevertheless, the cult of Diana still had some followers in England as late as the 1700s.

See also Artemis; Hecate; Roman Mythology.

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

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"Diana." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Diana." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/diana

"Diana." Myths and Legends of the World. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/diana

Diana

Diana an early Italian goddess associated with hunting, virginity, and, in later literature, with the moon (the Greek equivalent was Artemis). A statue of the goddess was particularly venerated at Ephesus; her Temple there was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

In the Bible (Acts 19:28) great is Diana of the Ephesians was the cry of a crowd at Ephesus protesting against the preaching of the apostles Paul and Barnabas; according to the account given in Acts, the people had been worked up by a silversmith named Demetrius, who traded in silver models of Diana's shrine and was concerned for his livelihood.

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"Diana." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Diana." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/diana

"Diana." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/diana

Diana (in Roman religion)

Diana (dīăn´ə), in Roman religion, goddess of the moon, forests, animals, and women in childbirth. She was probably originally a forest goddess and a special patroness of women. She was identified with the Greek Artemis, and at her temple on the Aventine at Rome she was honored as the virgin goddess. Her most famous cult, however, was at Aricia, near Lake Nemi; there she was worshiped as an earth goddess and was associated with fertility rites and with the Great Mother Goddess.

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"Diana (in Roman religion)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Diana (in Roman religion)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/diana-roman-religion

"Diana (in Roman religion)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/diana-roman-religion

Diana

Diana In Roman religion, the virgin huntress and patroness of domestic animals. She was identified with Artemis. A fertility deity, she was invoked to aid conception and childbirth.

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"Diana." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/diana