Selene: The Moon Goddess in Greek Mythology


     Selene is, in Greek Mythology, the Goddess of the Moon. But unlike Artemis (who is of the new generation), Selene is the Old Goddess who represents the moon star. This deity was very dear among ancient peoples.

Selene in Greek Mythology:

     Selene, in Greek Mythology, is the Goddess of the Moon. She is the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and the sister of the sun god Helios and the dawn goddess Eos.

     Selene and Artemis were also associated with Hecate and all three were considered moon and lunar goddesses, but only Selene was considered the personification of the Moon itself.

     The masculine form of mene (men) was also the name of the Phrygian moon-god. The Greek Stoic philosopher Chrysippus interpreted Selene and Men as, respectively, the feminine and masculine aspects of the same god.

Participated in the fight against Typhon:

     According to Nonnus' later account, when the gigantic monster Typhon besieged the heavens, he attacked the Moon Goddess, Selene also hurling bulls at her, though she managed to stay on her course, and ran towards her hissing like a viper. Selene fought the giant, locking horns with Typhon; afterwards, she carried many scars on her orb, reminiscent of her battle.

Moon Chariot:

     Like her brother Helios, the God of the Sun, who drives his chariot of the sun across the sky every day, Selene, the Goddess of the Moon, is also said to drive a chariot across the skies.

     The air, before quenched, shines with the light of her golden crown, and its rays shine bright, whenever the bright Selene, having bathed her beautiful body in the waters of the Ocean, donned her gleaming robes, and joined her strong neck, bright staff, he drives his long-haired horses at full speed, in the afternoon in the middle of the month: then his great orbit is full, and then his rays shine brighter as it increases.

     The earliest known depiction of Selene driving a chariot adorns the interior of an early 5th century BC red-figure cup attributed to the Painter Brygos, showing Selene plunging her chariot, drawn by two winged horses, into the sea (Berlin Antikensammlung F 2293).

Cult of the Moon Goddess:

     Lunar figures are found in Cretan rings and gemstones (perhaps indicating a Minoan cult of the Moon Goddess), but in addition to the role played by the moon itself in magic, folklore, and poetry, and despite the later worship of the Phrygian moon-god Men, there are it was relatively little worship of Selene.

     Pausanias also described seeing two stone images in the market place of Elis, one of the sun and the other of the moon, from whose heads projected the rays of the sun and the horns of the crescent moon.

     Pandia (or Pandia Selene) may have personified the full moon, and an Athenian festival called Pandia, generally considered a festival for Zeus, was perhaps celebrated on the full moon and may have been associated with Selene.

     Selene was sometimes associated with childbirth, as it was believed that during the full moon women had the easiest jobs; The idea that Selene would also give women easy work paved the way for identification with Hera and with the Romans Juno and Lucina, three other goddesses of childbirth;

     The Roman philosopher Cicero connected Selene's Roman counterpart Luna's to the birth goddess Lucina, both deriving from "light" (thus bringing the unborn child to light). And, according to a scholium on Theocritus, Pindar wrote that women in love prayed to Selene for help, as Euripides apparently did Phaedra, Selene's great-niece, in his lost play Hippolytus Veiled.

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