Regardless of her ancestry, Selene, as the personification of the Moon, was an influential goddess. One of her best known myths involves the handsome Endymion. The moon-goddess fell in love with this mortal, and she therefore engaged in an affair with Endymion that resulted in the birth of fifty daughters. But Endymion was, alas, human, and so susceptible to aging and eventually death. Selene could not bear the thought of this cruel fate. According to one version of the myth, she made certain that Endymion would remain eternally youthful by casting a spell that would cause him to sleep forever. In this way, Endymion would always live, sleeping through the ages.
It is also important to note that some Classical authors identified Selene with the Olympian goddess Artemis (indeed, in time Artemis was increasingly recognized as a moon goddess in her own right).
Selene was important enough to the ancient Greeks to inspire a Homeric Hymn. The Hymn to Selene describes the beauty and power of the goddess of the moon.
Homeric Hymn to Selene
"Muses, sweet-speaking daughters of Zeus Kronides
and mistresses of song, sing next of long-winged Moon!
From her immortal head a heaven-sent glow
envelops the earth and great beauty arises
under its radiance. From her golden crown the dim air
is made to glitter as her rays turn night to noon,
whenever bright Selene, having bathed her beautiful skin
in the Ocean, put on her shining rainment
and harnessed her proud-necked and glittering steeds,
swiftly drives them on as their manes play
with the evening, dividing the months. Her great orbit is full
and as she waxes a most brilliant light appears
in the sky. Thus to mortals she is a sign and a token."
Selene was called Luna in Roman mythology.
Selene in Art History
Gallery | For pictures and information about Selene in art, visit the Mythography gallery!
Who's Who in Classical Mythology