Sunday, December 13, 2015


In Greek mythology, Selene (/sɨˈliːni/; Greek Σελήνη [selɛ̌ːnɛː] 'moon';) is the goddess of the moon. She is the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and sister of the sun-god Helios, and Eos, goddess of the dawn. She drives her moon chariot across the heavens. Several lovers are attributed to her in various myths, including Zeus, Pan, and the mortal Endymion. In classical times, Selene was often identified with Artemis, much as her brother, Helios, was identified with Apollo. Both Selene and Artemis were also associated with Hecate, and all three were regarded as lunar goddesses, although only Selene was regarded as the personification of the moon itself. Her Roman equivalent is Luna.

The etymology of Selene is uncertain, but if the name is of Greek origin, it is likely connected to the word selas (σέλας), meaning "light".

Just as Helios, from his identification with Apollo, is called Phoebus ("bright"), Selene, from her identification with Artemis, is also commonly referred to by the epithet Phoebe (feminine form). The original Phoebe of Greek mythology is Selene's aunt, the Titaness mother of Leto and Asteria, and grandmother of Apollo, Artemis, and Hecate. Also from Artemis, Selene was sometimes called "Cynthia".

Selene was also called Mene. The word men (feminine mene), meant the moon, and the lunar month. It was also the name of the Phrygian moon-god Men.

The usual account of Selene's origin is given by Hesiod. In the Theogony, the sun-god Hyperion espoused his sister Theia, who gave birth to "great Helios and clear Selene and Eos who shines upon all that are on earth and upon the deathless Gods who live in the wide heaven." The Homeric Hymn to Helios follows this tradition: "Hyperion wedded glorious Euryphaëssa, his own sister, who bare him lovely children, rosy-armed Eos and rich-tressed Selene and tireless Helios." Here Euryphaëssa ("wide-shining") is probably an epithet of Theia.

Other accounts make Selene the daughter of the Titan Pallas or of Helios

Like her brother Helios, the Sun god, who drives his chariot across the sky each day, Selene is also said to drive across the heavens. The Hymn to Selene, provides a description:

The air, unlit before, glows with the light of her golden crown, and her rays beam clear, whensoever bright Selene having bathed her lovely body in the waters of Ocean, and donned her far-gleaming raiment, and yoked her strong-necked, shining team, drives on her long-maned horses at full speed, at eventime in the mid-month: then her great orbit is full and then her beams shine brightest as she increases. So she is a sure token and a sign to mortal men.

The earliest known depiction of Selene driving a chariot is inside an early 5th century BC red-figure cup attributed to the Brygos Painter, showing Selene plunging her chariot, drawn by two winged horses, into the sea. Though the moon chariot is often described as being silver, for Pindar it was golden. And while the sun chariot has four horses, Selene's usually has two, described as "snow-white" by Ovid, or was drawn by oxen or bulls.

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