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There were a variety of goddesses which at one time or another were associated with the moon and its cycles. Amongst these we can include Juno and Diana, so much so that Diana is often portrayed with a moon on her tiara. Clearly the association with the moon also had close connotations with fertility, likely due to its close association with the menstrual cycle but not only: even today popular farming lore has clear indications regarding farming practices such as sowing, planting, pruning, harvesting etc and appropriate moon cycles to undertake such operations.
The moon goddess wore a cloak representing the starry night and an emblem of a moon on her forehead/tiara and a two horse chariot (biga). The Sun god Apollo had a four horse chariot (quadriga).
The Roman moon goddess was Luna although the moon was also closely associated with Diana. She was sister of Aurora, the goddess of mornings, and of the sun. Daughter of the Titan Hyperion. Her temple the "aedes lunae" in Rome was on the Aventine hill and celebrated on the 31st of March. The Roman writer Tacitus tells us (Annales 15) that the temple was built by Servius Tullus one of Rome’s early kings.
The temple had a variety of important events associated with it; in 182BC a freak wind wrenched one of the doors off and cast it against the temple of the goddess Cerere; it was struck by a bolt of lightning (a very important sign in Roman divination). From a journalistic point of view, Sempronius Gracchus, one of the two revolutionary Gracchi brothers sought refuge here from the irate landowners, he reputedly jumped down from the podium and sprained his ankle.
The aedes lunae was burnt down during the great fire of Rome in 64AD during the reign of Emperor Nero and was never rebuilt. However we have an idea of where it might have been thanks to the blown door event (ie near the temple of Cerere).
The romans dedicated Monday to her and indeed it remains so even today both in romance languages as well as anglo-saxon languages: Lunedì (Italian), Lunes (Spanish), Lundi (French), Montag (German), Monday (English)...
The supposedly magical power of the moon was also believed in Roman times: a strong feel for this can be had from Book 11 of Apuleius’ Golden Ass (aka Metamorphoses) where not only do we get a sense of the deities associated with the moon , but also of her power to transform and shapechange.....
"So, shaking off my tiredness, I scrambled to my feet and walked straight into the sea in order to purify myself. I immersed my head seven times because, according to the divine Pythagoras, that number is specially suited for all ritual acts; and then, speaking with lively joy, I lifted my tear-wet face in supplication to the irresistible Goddess:
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"the ancient roman moon goddess" was written by Giovanni Milani-Santarpia for www.mariamilani.com - Rome apartments