There are many pictures I could have chosen to introduce the goddess, Diana, but this one has the virtue of having three pictures of her in one scene. She is the small statue on top of the pillar flanked by two animals which by the way they are sitting appear to be dogs, which would be appropriate to Diana, but they also look as though they have antlers, which would make them stags, also appropriate. Diana is also at the top holding a stag by the horns, and at the top right corner looking on. This is a page I've planned to do for some time, both because of my interest in Greek/Roman religion, and because the Diana in Mythosphere is, in many ways, based on the goddess.
Here the goddess' statue is presiding over the sacrifice of King Agamemnon's daughter, Iphigenia. In this version of the story a stag is substituted at the last minute, but the implication remains that the godess must have had a connection with human sacrifice in the first place.
The goddess Diana (Artemis in Greek), is goddess of the moon, of the forest, of hunting, and of witchcraft. She also has some association with childbirth, and dogs, cats, stags, and bears are especially associated with her. Though something of a fertility goddess, she is also a virgin. She is not a terribly major goddess in the Homeric pecking order. In the Iliad she sides with the Trojans, and when she falls afoul of Hera (Juno in Latin), that goddess beats her with her own bow and sends her crying back to her mother scattering arrows as she goes. As this scene implies, the goddess is also an archer, her arrows associated with the moonbeams, as her twin brother Apollo's arrows are associated with the sun's rays. In Greek and Roman art she is usually pictured as a young woman, slender by standards of classical art, and dressed in either a short garment, or robes tucked up above her knees. She carries a bow and quiver, is often wrapped in a leopard skin, and is shown with a small moon crescent headdress. She is often accompanied by a dog.
This attractive, though bland statue gets the idea across. Here she has the slim (by classical standards) figure, the bow, and her moon crescent. She is also nude-- for those who failed to notice. Since the Rennaissance there have been many nude Dianas, both in statuary and painting. This is something of which the ancients would not have approved. Nude figures of gods were common, but few of the goddess other than Aphrodite (Venus), and even in her case there were mixed feelings. After all, Actaeon got torn apart by his own hounds for seeing the goddess naked, and that was an accident. The Greeks and Romans came to think of her as a man hater and a prude. This is clearly wrong. Their rationalism could not grasp the concept of mythic time in which an event is perpetually present. Of course the artists, as well as the Christians, both rather kinky groups, began to see lesbian overtones. Today, we should be beyond all that, but unfortunately some equally neurotic women have taken to celebrating all the libels that have been put onto this goddess since the time of Homer.
This goddess was very popular in ancient times, and then as well as later had an image of youth, beauty, virtue, and innocence. That reputation is reflected by the huge number of women who have been named Diana, Diane, or Dian. By comparison, how many Venus' or Junos or Athenas can you name. Another popular classical name, Cynthia is an alternate name for this goddess. Also Phoebe. Not surprisingly, Wonder Woman is named Diana. For all this good reputation, though, the goddess has some dark undertones. For one thing, there is the association with human sacrifice, something she would have been connected with in early times, as a goddess of fertility. The later Greeks, however, had an abhorrence of human sacrifce, and would have hated associating it with so popular a goddess. Thus the story of the sacrifice of Iphegenia is altered by the goddess substituting a stag for the victim at the last minute, a very similar resolution to the one the Hebrews provide for the sacrifice of Isaac. The Greeks, however, undercut their own resolution by having the goddess whisk the girl off to the Crimea, where she becomes a priestess, sacrificing travellers to the goddess. For the Greeks, though, customs in distant parts of the barbarian world are expected to be nasty and sloppy, and so it is no big deal. The goddess was also identified with youth initiation rituals in which boys were flogged brutally, though seldom fatally.
A typical example of the Ephesian-type of representation of the goddess. This style, with its column like garment covered with animals, and what appears to be multiple breasts has always offended many classisists, who have wanted to explain the Ephesian Artemis away as the result of Asiatic influence. The temple however, was a classic of Greek architecture, and the style of statue has turned up in various parts of the Roman empire, not all of them in the east. The face and hands were black in the actual statue at Ephesis, and probably made of ebony. The rest of the statue was white with a white moon disc behind the head. The famous temple at Ephesis dwarfed the Parthenon in size, and was decorated with the works of some of the greatest artists of antiquity. It was built after a man named Herostratus in 356 B.C. burned the previous temple, itself the largest of all Greek temples up to that time. He had wanted to immortalize his name, and succeeded magnificently in spite of a city ordinance against speaking his name. The last and greatest of the temples of Artemis measured 425 feet by 225 feet and had columns sixty feet high. It became a major tourist attraction, and spawned a souvenir traffic in miniature statues of the goddess. It was one of these businessmen who took such offence against Paul preaching against idols, and nearly got him lynched. As an aside, Diana's alter-ego, Mary, also has several famous black statues, the color never adequately explained.
It is a great irony that it was at a church council in Ephesis that Mary was raised to what is essentially divine status (the church distinction between veneration and worship is a mere word game that no one can honestly believe), and given the goddess' title, "Queen of Heaven," which would seem to have little relevance to a mortal Hebrew woman, but obviously belongs to the moon goddess. The association has been further developed by those many cheap devotional pictures of Mary sitting on, or otherwise in close conjunction with moon and stars. Of course as a fertile virgin it is no great stretch to see the connection. When the Mary cult was banished by Protestantism in England, Queen Elizabeth took Mary's place for the last thirty years of the 1500's as the "virgin queen." She could not be directly compared with Mary, because Mary was tainted by Catholicism, and because Elizabeth's Catholic sister, Mary had initiated a bloody persecution, but the association with Diana was played up continuously. There is hardly a reference to Diana or Cynthia during the whole era that does not have reference to Elizabeth. She is even Britomartis in The Faerie Queene, another name associated with the goddess from an early Cretan moon goddess. The poem below by Ben Jonson is a good Elizabethan example.
Queen and Huntress
Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair
State in wonted manner keep;
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess excellently bright.
Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia's shining orb was made
Heaven to clear, when day did close;
Bless us then with wished sight,
Goddess excellently bright.
Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short soever,
Thou that mak'st a day of night,
Goddess excellently bright.
Although Diana has done surprisingly well in overcoming her association with human sacrifice, she has not escaped a moon-goddess association with witchcraft and black magic. Some have tried to separate that aspect of the goddess by associating it with the other Greek moon goddess, Hecate, leaving Diana as the pure virgin. There is no evidence, though, that Hecate had the bad reputation in classical times, and the fact that the association with magic and witchcraft goes back to ancient times is illustrated by the "Book of Acts." According to the author, as a result of Paul's teaching, great numbers of of magic books were burned at Ephesus. Shakespeare remembers this reputation when he sets his Comedy of Errours in Ephesus, and the hero, Antipholus, remarks on the bad reputation of the city. Diana is, of course, widely recognized as the goddess of witches. If the three witches in Macbeth invoke Hecate instead, it is probably because of the association of Diana with Elizabeth. The Queen had recently died, and her cousin James Stuart had recently taken the throne, but neither he or the general public would have approved of associating Elizabeth with witchcraft. Why, by the way, is there a second moon goddess; isn't one enough? Like most polytheistic religions, the classical one is an organic growth, and there is a great deal of overlap and general redundancy.
. Aside from what has already been mentioned, probably the two most famous stories about the goddess are of her love afair with Endymion, a shepherd who is condemned to sleep perpetually, so that the relationship cannot be consumated, and the story of Actaeon, a hunter who inadvertantly sees the goddess bathing naked, and is turned by her into a stag to be torn apart by her own hounds. The first of these sounds, at least to me, fairly meaningless, merely a little story about the goddess' virginity, and how by a quirk of fate it is perpetually perserved. The Greeks seemed to have a fondness for such tacky little tales. The second is a bit more complex. It has been suggested that the story is late, and was made up by the Roman poet, Ovid, but this is clearly not the case. Actaeon is a member of the Theban royal family, and is mentioned in one of Sophocles' Theban plays as one of the many members of the family to come to a bad end. The story seems to be an illustration of the goddess' prudery, an appropriate quality for a perpetual virgin. In other words, Greek rationalism at work--translating a mythic virginity into historical time. Very likely though, the story echoes the human sacrifice theme again. The horned man as image of male sexuality is very widespread in ancient times.
Greek vessel with the goddess, Actaeon, and hounds. It really looks like he is being attacked by large chihuahuas, but it gets the point across.
The goddess Diana in our novel, Mythosphere, is both similar and different. She has very pale skin, and very dark, glossy hair. She also tends to wear black, unless dressed in the manner of the classical goddess. The fact that she is in black and white is suggestive of moonlight, in which color does not, or barely exists, and also of the screen--movie, TV, computer, for she is a media goddess. Like her predecessor, she is also a virgin, but not for quite the same reason. In Greek myth she is perpetually a late adolescent, and so is at an age at which she might well not be married. Our Diana is 26, and a graduate in theatre of the University of Michigan. Her problem is an inability for intimacy. She is socially skillful, but unable to relate easily on a personal or physical level. She can be sexy and can fascinate people of both sexes, but it is all image. Like the Greek/Roman Diana, she has a sleeping lover, at least in the first book. In this case, he is in a coma. Whether the relationship would ever have been consumated, is another question. She is also a forest goddess; she was given the city of Samarkand to manage by her father, but she, herself, created the one large forest in Mythosphere.
Our Diana is also very much an individual, and many of her traits would not appear in anyone else's conception. She wears her hair very short, she is left handed, she was a voracious reader as a child, she has an almost photographic memory, she can be very cunning and devious, she is secretive, she conceals her mistakes. And, like most complex people, those around her have a general sense of who she is, but don't really understand her in any depth, and are wrong about much. She is given credit for far more scheming than she actually does. She is thought of as cold and emotionless, though in fact she is neither, though she does not communicate feelings well. People tend to imagine that she is sexually perverse,
though she is actually fairly conventional.
One conception of the Diana in Mythosphere. The picture was drawn a number of years ago for an earlier prototype of the character. I like the slim face and narrow cheekbones, but if I were an artist, I would make her a little more elegant, and make the hair more geometrical in cut.
Rennaissance paintings of the goddess inevitably show her wearing tiara with a small crescent on it, a piece of iconography identifying her as the moon goddess. Our Diana has such a tiara when she is in full regalia, but it is suggested also by the play of light on her hair, as in this passage from the book: "Trevor watched her, fascinated by the way the blue-white cresenct of light on her glossy hair moved as she turned her head."
Another piece of the Diana decor is the leopard skin. Her cyber avatar has this as well, but in this scene, in which she is questioning her spy, Julian, who is in the form of a crow, she is not wearing it: "Nice outfit--I'll have to borrow it some time," the crow said, tilting his head this way and that, looking her up and down with his small black eyes. "But where's your leopard skin?" "Left it off--didn't want to freak the animal people." "Cyber leopards an endangered species, are they?" "They're pretty rare. But I didn't come out here to talk fashion with you."
Like the classical goddess, she also has a sleeping lover: "She had been in love, but a car wreck had left the young man in a coma from which he had not yet awakened. She had later heard that his sexual orientation had made any sexual consummation unlikely, but had never known for sure. People always said such things about theatre people."
The Diana of Mythosphere is, like her namesake, a goddess, and the daughter of the king of the goddess, though unlike their prototypes, the gods of Mythosphere became divine by technological rather than supernatural means. She is like the classical goddess in many ways both small and large, but is also a distinct being not quite like anyone else. One of the questions for this and future books is, will she ever manage a human relationship, and, for that matter, will she ever learn to be a complete human being like Venus, her less brilliant, but less troubled sister?