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An ancient Italian deity, whose name is the feminine counterpart of Ianus. She was the goddess of the moon, of the open air, and open country, with its mountains, forests, springs and brooks, of the chase, and of childbirth. In the latter capacity she, like Juno, bore the second title of Lucina. Thus her attributes were akin to those of the Greek Artemis, and in the course of time she was completely identified with her and with Hecate, who resembled her. The most celebrated shrine of Diana was at Aricia in a grove (nemus), from which she was sometimes simply called Nemorensis. This was on the banks of the modern lake of Nemi, which was called the mirror of Diana. Here a male deitynamed Virbius was worshipped with her,a god of the forest and the chase. He was in later times identified with Hippolytus, the risen favourite of Artemis, and the oldest priest of the sanctuary (Rex Nemorensis). He was said to have originated the custom of giving the priest's office to a runaway slave, who broke off a branch from a particular tree in the precincts, and slew his predecessor in office in single combat. In consequence of this murderous custom the Greeks compared Diana of Aricia with the Tauric Artemis, and a fable arose that Orestes bad brought the image of that god into the grove. Diana was chiefly worshipped by womell, who prayed to her for happiness in marriage or childbirth. The most considerable temple of Diana at Rome was in the Aventine, founded by Servius Tullius as the sanctuary of the Latin confederacy. On the day of its foundation (August 13) the slaves had a holiday. This Diana was completely identified with the sister of Apollo, and worshipped simply as Artemis at the Secular Games. A sign of the original difference however remained. Cows were offered to the Diana of the Aventine, and her temple adorned with cows, not with stags' horns, but it was the doe which was sacred to Artemis (see ARTEMIS).
Type: Standard
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