Arts and Cultures - Luna the Moon Goddess of Rome

Arts and Cultures

Dr Archana Verma

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Ancient Rome adopted the Greek goddess Selene as Luna the Moon goddess. She was regarded as the feminine counterpart to Sol, the Sun god. As in the Greek iconography, so too in the Roman iconography, Luna drove a chariot of two horses across the skies, while Sol drove a chariot of 4 horses. However, in Roman iconography, Luna is often depicted as riding a chariot of 2 bulls instead of horses.

Luna got associated with Hecate the goddess of night. She was further associated with Proserpina the goddess of agriculture. She was the Roman counterpart of the Greek Persephone. This was because Luna or Moon was regarded as important for agriculture. In Rome, the New Moon was sacred to the goddess Juno. Hence, Luna was also associated with Juno. Diana the goddess of hunting and warfare was the Roman counterpart of the Greek Artemis. Diana was also the goddess of childbirth. Hence, Luna was also associated with Diana, as Selene was associated with Artemis.

Thus, we see that in Greco-Roman culture, the Moon was associated with agriculture, love, fertility, childbirth and femininity. In essence, the Moon deity was perceived in the same manner as it was perceived in Mesopotamia, Canaan and Egypt. However, in the Greco-Roman culture, Moon was feminine, while it was masculine in the Fertile Crescent and in Egypt.

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