Goddess of the hunt and nature; patron of freed slaves
Diana is a Roman goddess of the hunt, wild animals, the moon, chastity, and childbirth. She was the patron of slaves, who could always find sanctuary in her temples, and also of women seeking to conceive healthy children. Much of her history has been erroneously conflated with the Greek goddess Artemis, and thus little is known. Even her Roman myth is likely a reinterpretation of an earlier Sabine goddess.
She is a twin, though the identity of this counterpart fluxes. Depending on the source, it is sometimes credited to be Apollo or Lucifer. Occasionally she is associated with Janus.
In Roman art Diana usually appears as a huntress with bow and quiver, accompanied by a hound or deer. She often has a small crescent moon woven into her hair. The Roman poet Nemesianus describes her as follows: “She carried a bow and a quiver full of golden arrows, wore a golden cloak, purple half-boots, and a belt with a jeweled buckle to hold her tunic together, and wore her hair gathered in a ribbon.”
“Diana of the Woods”
Diana spent much of her time at her sanctuary at Nemi, a basin lake surrounded by sacred groves at Aricia. She preferred this isolation to the vigour of the cities. Her lands were well known to offer refuge to slaves and fugitives seeking escape, particularly women. Nemi also welcomed expectant mothers and children, and even took care of pups and pregnant dogs. Not only was Aricia a haven for animals, but it also served as a refuge for pilgrims in need of healing. No one who came in honest need was turned away.
Diana was a quiet woman, and gentle of spirit. She was also fond of animals. Nemi was a place of peace, and resisted the politics of men and gods beyond its borders.
Diana worked hard to protect her lands and the people who fled to seek asylum within Nemi’s temple walls. Ill rumours circulated of barbarity, likely because of who Nemi welcomed so readily. The legend holds that a new priest could replace his predecessor by slaying him, and that men battled to the death for this honour. But no evidence exists to substantiate that such violence ever happened.
The lake was also known as “Diana’s Mirror” for it reflected the moon so clearly.
Though Diana was free with her time for those that needed it, she valued solitude, and was selective of those she was closest to. However she lived with two permanent companions:
- Egeria, a water nymph who assisted with midwifery and had political ties as counsellor and consort to Numa, a king of Rome.
- Virbius, a king and hero of Rome, given sanctuary from persecution, and thought to be Diana’s head priest and once a slave himself. There is some conjecture he is in fact the Greek hero Hippolytus, who upon his unjust murder by Theseus was saved by Asclepius. Once revived he refused to forgive Theseus and went to Italy and became the king of the Aricians. He ruled as “Virbius” from inside the shrine of Diana.
1st Age: Born as Chihiro Matsumoto, a former Atharim hunter. See: Eidolon.
3rd Age: Born amongst the Seanchan, she spends much of her youth collared as a damane trained for battle, before emancipation leads her to the White Tower. Following the Last Battle, she is instrumental in organising refuge for those displaced by the devastation, and ultimately ends her days in peace. See: Malaika.
5th Age: Born the princess Miao Shan, a daughter her parents wished had been a son. After refusing to follow convention she is exiled. In myth she is remembered as the Chinese goddess of compassion. See: Kwan Yin.