• Wed. Mar 29th, 2023

Celestial Goddess Selene: The Ancient Greek Goddess of the Moon


Nov 15, 2022

With silver wings and a golden diadem, the goddess Selene shone brightly all through the lands of historic Greece. Because the goddess of the moon , Selene captivated the hearts of historic poets, authors, and orators, turning into as a lot a logo of the fantastic night time because the proverbial mild within the darkness.

Three work displaying three deities of Greek mythology as personifications of the occasions of the day. From left to proper: Helios (or solar god Apollo) personifying Day, Eos (or Hesperos) embodying Daybreak, and Selene (or Diana, Luna) personifying Evening or the Moon. ( Public domain )

The Legendary Household of Selene, Goddess of the Moon

The daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, Selene was the unique and principal moon goddess in early historic Greek mythology . Additionally identified by the epithets Phoebe (to not be confused together with her aunt Phoebe) and Mene, goddess Selene was thought-about by the traditional Greeks to be the bodily personification of the moon, not merely the image or emblem of it.

Like each celestial goddess , there was a yin to Selene’s yang; On this case, there have been two yins. The moon goddess Selene had two siblings — the solar and the daybreak, also referred to as Helios and Eos respectively. Whereas Selene was identified for pulling the moon throughout the sky in her silver chariot drawn by two lovely, long-haired horses (generally oxen or bulls), Selene’s brother Helios drew the solar throughout the sky in his fiery chariot.

Her sister, Eos, in her personal means, melded the 2, mixing her brother’s and her sister’s duties within the lovely dawn of daybreak. The earliest depictions of the traditional Greek goddess Selene date again to the fifth century BC and illustrate her journey throughout the sky remodeling the golden day into the silvery night time.

Endymion and Selene, by Sebastiano Ricci (1713). (Public domain)

Endymion and Selene, by Sebastiano Ricci (1713). ( Public domain )

The Love Story of the Goddess Selene and Endymion

The preferred story for which Selene is thought is that of her relationship, if it may be referred to as such, with the human Endymion. The story of Selene and Endymion has unknown origins, although it’s believed to stem from Apollonius of Rhodes’ Argonautica, or The Voyage of the Argo .

Nonetheless, there are quite a few different references to Selene and Endymion’s love story in varied historic texts. These embrace the Homeric Hymns, Quintus of Smyrna’s The Fall of Troy and, most appropriately, the poems of the traditional feminine Greek poet named Sappho, who fairly loved retelling romances.

Endymion, because the tales go, was a mortal shepherd who lived on Mount Latmos in Greece. It’s mentioned that he was the grandson of Zeus, and that Zeus supplied Endymion the reward of selecting when he would die. Endymion famously responded that he would stay ageless and deathless, thus he was positioned beneath an everlasting sleep.

Now, regardless of the quite a few references to Endymion and Selene , it’s unknown for sure if Zeus was the explanation he slept for eternity. There have been authors who believed he slumbered for different causes: as an illustration, Cicero, the Roman orator, believed it was in order that Selene may lay him whereas he slept, which she did each night time.

Different variations of the story declare that the goddess Selene liked the mortal Endymion a lot, that she solid a spell so he would sleep endlessly in order that he would by no means die and stay unchanged for eternity.

Selene, Greek goddess of the moon, in a flying chariot drawn by two white horses. She and her brother Helius, the god of the sun, often frame mythical scenes, giving an indication of the passage of time. Because both the Sun and Moon affect the temperature of the air, pestilential diseases and death are attributed to them. (Wellcome Images / CC BY 4.0)

Selene, Greek goddess of the moon, in a flying chariot drawn by two white horses. She and her brother Helius, the god of the solar, usually body legendary scenes, giving a sign of the passage of time. As a result of each the Solar and Moon have an effect on the temperature of the air, pestilential ailments and demise are attributed to them. (Wellcome Photographs / CC BY 4.0 )

Numerous Accounts of the Goddess Selene in Greek Mythology

Like all historic Greek delusion, the story of Selene and Endymion handed orally for therefore many generations, that quite a few variations have cropped up all through historical past and never all may very well be correctly recorded. The parable through which Zeus is chargeable for Endymion’s sleep, nevertheless, is probably the most widespread model right this moment.

Selene, for her half, may additionally solely supposedly contact Endymion when he was asleep due to this spell. Because the goddess of the moon , this might have been a metaphor for regular human affairs, but it performed properly into the story of Zeus’ fault in Endymion’s situation.

Regardless, it’s mentioned that Selene liked Endymion endlessly and that she even handed the duty of ending the night time onto her brother for some time. But Helios, being inexperienced, made the nights too quick generally and introduced the daybreak too late others. Ultimately, Selene bore Endymion many youngsters. Some variations of the story recount that that they had just a few, whereas others declare that she bore as many as fifty daughters. The mortal magnificence Narcissus, the person cursed to like solely himself, is typically attributed to them.

The Different Loves of Greek Goddess Selene

Nonetheless, Endymion, regardless of the prevalence of his delusion, was not Selene’s one and solely love. In Greek mythology, there not often is such a factor. Selene was additionally reputed to have had affairs with many different Greek gods, not the least of whom was Zeus. In legend she was mentioned to have borne him a daughter named Pandia, and probably one other as effectively — this one a nymph named Nemea.

Selene additionally slept with the well-known satyr Pan in line with the Roman creator Virgil. Nonetheless, Pan was generally thought-about to be an epithet for Endymion due to Endymion’s function as shepherd. Selene was even mentioned to have even had 4 youngsters together with her brother Helios (not unusual within the Greek faith) generally known as the Horae, or the seasons.

Selene (also Diana) as Personification of the Night. 1765. (Public domain)

Selene (additionally Diana) as Personification of the Evening. 1765. ( Public domain )

As time handed and the Archaic Interval of Greece grew to become the Early Classical, Selene slowly got here to get replaced by the youthful Greek goddess Artemis, twin of Apollo. It was not lengthy earlier than Artemis took over the function of moon goddess, simply as Apollo finally took over the solar from Helios. Although Selene goddess of the moon was by no means forgotten, by the Classical Interval (fifth to 4th century BC) she was continuously interchanged with Artemis till she handed into the previous era of usurped Titans. Because the daybreak of change approached, so the girl of the moon and the night time waned.

High picture: Pan and Selene, by Hans von Aachen. Supply: Pan and Selene, by Hans von Aachen. Supply: Public domain

By Riley Winters

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