Friday, August 7, 2009

Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia

Anyone interested in digging into the ancient links to our ways should read,
Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia.
The book is expensive, published in 2007 by Cambridge Press and "academic".
The author is CMC Green of the University of Iowa - Professor of Classics. (Scroll down to see the author... CMC Green.)

We are so dependent on ancient sources and because of this we are also dependent on translations and associated interpretations of these ancient sources. The woman who wrote this book does her own translations, she reads and speaks latin and greek. She quotes, Livy and Dionysus, Varro, Cicero others (and Greeks), she provides the original latin and then her translation and, most importantly, provides detailed historical context for the quotes.

Historical Context: Italic Penisula? Greek? farther East?
Here is a quote from page 85
"There was always an undercurrent of competition between Rome and Aricia over Diana. One curious fact: Romans and Aricians both acknowledged that their cult statues of Diana were borrowed - but not from Greece, except secondhand through semibarbarous Greek colonies. The Massiliote Artemis whose copy was placed in the Aventine temple was itself a copy in turn of Ephesian Artemis, whereas Aricia's Diana came from Tauropolos - a mythical place generally held to be somewhere on the Black Sea. These acknowledgements of barbaric borrowing become even more interesting in that there is no corroborating evidence for either claim."

Hecate too was not Greek but borrowed from Greek colonies. Hecate is The Great Goddess, the Ancient of Ancients and a triform goddess. The Triform Arician Diana is ancient too and is said to have links to Tauropolos, in which is somewhere around the Black Sea - think of Catal Hoyuk, said to be "the 1st known city". Think of those bull heads and ask yourself if Tauropolos could be another name for Catal Hoyuk. Even if it is not, what is reinforced is that humanity's connection to these goddesses is ancient, going back far into prehistory.

The Goddess link to the Moon.
Quote from p 117-118
"The Moon was "feminine" and the cosmic source of all moisture, and was particularly the source of dew, which she brought at night. The nutriment of the moon was contained in bodies of fresh water, as the sun's was contained in salt water. Thus the lake in the crater by Diana's sanctuary, the speculum Dianae,was not simply ancillary to her worship. The lake "fed" the mooon, even as it reflected her and by feeding her moisture served to help her assist the hunter. The moon was the hunter's goddess because without the dew and the damp to hold the scent of a hare or deer or boar, the hunter and his dogs had little hope of ever finding their quarry. The hunter needed the moon; and the moon , by bringing the damp, captured the scent and thus "captured" the animal, leading dogs, who led the hunter straight to the prey. From time immemorial, the moon *was* the huntress."

"Thus there was no time among the Latins when the moon goddess was not also a hunting goddess, or when the hunting goddess Diana was not also the moon. There is no either-or, no decision we must make between Diana the moon goddess and Diana the huntress. Diana was worshipped in the wild, in a crater beside a lake, because that was where her elements - the moon, the wild, the water - could be worshipped together."

Diana, Hecate, Goddess of the Underworld
Quote from p 134
"It is unlikely that we shall ever know the real Latin name of Diana in the underworld - if indeed there was one. The moon at the dark was called silens - not by the poets but by the technical writers, such as Cato (luna silenti) Columella, and Pliny. The dead were known as the silentes (the silent ones). This pervasive silence indicates not just that there was a relunctance to name these deites amount the Latins but that, for the Latins, the very silence of the underworld precluded naming. Ovid approprirated epithets like Tactia (Silent One) or Dea Muta (The Mute Goddess) for underworld feminine deites. He also seems to suggest that the ghosts of the dead could only moan, not speak. Lucan's Erictho make much of the fact that she needs a just-killed corpse for her predictions, possibly on the grounds that those who had been dead longer would do no good because they were unable to commmunicate. In Aenied, Vergil makes much the same point with the silence of Dido,the moaning and the wordless whimpering of the Trojan shades. Aeneas is allowed to speak with Palinurus, who has not crossed over the river, and Anchise, who dwells in the Elysian Fields."

"One characteristic of Latin religion is that it uses Greek mythology as a rich source of protective euphemism. Thus Hecate or Proserpina (the Latin form of Persephone) are used as names for Diana in the underworld."

This is why we *know* Diana to have underworld elements but we have no name for this goddess, but shade or shadow, Umbrea or we've borrowed the Greek.

Footnote pg 133
"Hecate was, at least in Greek theogonies, a separate goddess. The name, like that of Proserpina, was used to express Diana's underworld character. This is not to say that Hecate was Artemis (or Diana), only that it was useful for speakers to employ the name when speaking of the goddess in the underworld."

pg 134
"Diana, then, was Diana Triformis: Luna, Diana, Hecate. These were neither different goddesses nor an amalgamation of different goddesses. They were Diana, well represented by the triple statue of Diana n the coin of P.Accoleius Laricolus, Diana as huntress, Diana as the moon , Diana of the underworld."

There have always been questions regarding "our" use of Greek names for our Deity concepts. What the chapter titled The Many Faces of Diana indicates is that while the Latins/Romans, and the author uses Latins to specifically separate the religion of the people from the Roman state religion, *knew* the goddess and all her aspects, the Greeks gave form and name to what the became recorded by Latin/Roman writers of the time. And this is what we have today as "history".

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