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(from the root of dies). An ancient Italian deity, whose name is the feminine counterpart of Ianus (originally Dianus). 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, since the moon was believed to foster growth (Cic. N. D. ii. 19). In the latter capacity she, like Iuno, 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 Hecaté, who resembled her. The most celebrated shrine of Diana was at Aricia (q.v.), in a grove (nemus), from which she was sometimes simply called Nemorensis (Plin. H. N. xix. 33). This was on the banks of the modern lake of Nemi, which was styled the mirror of Diana. Here a male deity named Virbius (Ovid, Fast. vi. 756) 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, Calig. 35).

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 had brought the image of that goddess into the grove. Diana was chiefly worshipped by women, who prayed to her for happiness in marriage or childbirth. The most important temple of Diana at Rome was on 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. (See Ludi.) 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.

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 19.33
    • Cicero, de Natura Deorum, 2.19
    • Ovid, Fasti, 6
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