Diana, the Living MythDiana/Artemis in Greek and Roman Mythology
copyright 1997 by Tracy Marks
Princess Diana has already become a living archetype, reaching deeply into the personal and collective unconscious of people all over the world, inspiring them. Yet few may be aware that she also personified the myth of the Roman goddess Diana (the Greek Artemis), who was not only true to her own free spirit, but also committed to humanitarian values.
The goddess Diana was a huntress, but she was
also nurturer of children and feminine values, and protector of the weak and vulnerable.
Parthenon. east frieze. Artemis (447-432 B.C.)
Earl Spencer, Diana's brother, stated at her funeral: "It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this: a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age."
Let us explore further the myth of the goddess Diana, and reflect
upon its psychological meaning, and its relevance to Princess Diana.
Diana ruled the wilderness, the untamed frontiers of nature. Today we might wonder: Did her realms
also include inner terrains and the uncharted emotional wilderness?
Images of Diana in Greek and Roman myth often portray her accompanied by animals, (particularly young stags) or surrounded by women who appealed to her for help in childbearing. Diana was a protector of children, and responded to the vulnerable and suffering. She defended the powerless from unjust treatment by the patriarchy, and took decisive action in their behalf.
Statue of Diana
Diana's role as nurturer and protectress of all began early in life. She began helping her mother Leto as soon as she was born, by delivering her own twin brother Apollo. Her mother needed more nurturing from her own daughter than she was able to give in return. All too frequently, the young Diana felt abandoned by Leto, and compelled to come to her mother's aid.
This independent, and yet compassionate goddess was readily available to others, but also vulnerable, and not known to have had particularlysatisfying relationships with men, except for her brother Apollo.
But even her relationship with her brother was not always smooth. Her one great romantic love was the handsome and revered giant, Orion, whom her brother did not like. One day Apollo tricked her by betting her that she could not hit a distant object with her arrows.
Thriving on challenges, Artemis aimed, only to discover
that her confidence, competence and intuitive aim beheaded her
lover. Forever after, she grieved that she had so unintentionally
incapacitated her lover, and proceeded to make him a star in the sky since
he no longer could be the star that brightened her time on earth.
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