SELENE

ΣΕΛΗΝΗ

Selene and Endymion (detail), by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), French Baroque painter

Selene and Endymion (detail), by Nicolas Poussin
(1594-1665), French Baroque painter

Also called Mene, or Latin Luna, was the goddess of the moon, or the moon personified into a divine being. She is called a daughter of Hyperion and Theia, and accordingly a sister of Helios and Eos (Hes. Theog. 371, &c.; Apollod. i. 2. § 2; Schol. ad Pind. Isthm. v. 1, ad Apollon. Rhod. iv. 55); but others speak of her as a daughter of Hyperion by Euryphaessa (Hom. Hymn. 31. 5), or of Pallas (Hom. Hymn. in Merc. 99, &c.), or of Zeus and Latona (Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 175), or lastly of Helios (Eurip. l.c.; comp. Hygin. Praef. p. 10, ed. Muncker). She is also called Phoebe, as the sister of Phoebus, the god of the sun. By Endymion, whom she loved, and whom she sent to sleep in order to kiss him, she became the mother of fifty daughters (Apollod. i. 7. § 5; Cic. Tusc. i. 38; Catull. 66. 5; Paus. v. 1. § 2); by Zeus she became the mother of Pandeia, Ersa, and Nemea (Hom. Hymn. 32. 14 ; Plut. Sympos. iii. in fin.; Schol. ad Pind. Nem. Hypoth. p. 425, ed. Böckh). Pan also is said to have had connexion with her in the shape of a white ram (Virg. Georg. iii. 391). Selene is described as a very beautiful goddess, with long wings and a golden diadem (Hom. Hymn. 32. 1, 7), and Aeschylus (Sept. 390) calls her the eye of night. She rode, like her brother Helios, across the heavens in a chariot drawn by two white horses, cows, or mules (Ov. Fast. iv. 374, iii. 110, Rem. Am. 258 ; Auson. Ep. v. 3; Claudian, Rapt. Proserp. iii. 403; Nonn. Dionys. vii. 244). She was represented on the pedestal of the throne of Zeus at Olympia, riding on a horse or a mule (Paus. v. 11. § 3); and at Elis there was a statue of her with two horns (Paus. vi. 24. § 5). In later times Selene was identified with Artemis, and the worship of the two became amalgamated (Callim. Hymn. in Dian. 114, 141 ; Soph. Oed. Tyr. 207 ; Plut. Sympos. l.c.; Catull. 34. 16; Serv. ad Aen. iv. 511, vi. 118). In works of art, however, the two divinities are usually distinguished; the face of Selene being more full and round, her figure less tall, and always clothed in a long robe; her veil forms an arch above her head, and above it there is the crescent. At Rome Luna had a temple on the Aventine. (Liv. xl. 2; Ov. Fast. iii. 884.)

Diana and Endymion, by Jérôme-Martin Langlois (1779-1838), French Neoclassical painter

Diana (Selene) and Endymion, by Jérôme-Martin Langlois (1779-1838), French Neoclassical painter