Greek Mythology - Selene

“The Titan goddess of the moon. She was depicted as a woman either riding side saddle on a horse or in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged steeds. Her lunar sphere or crescent was represented as either a crown set upon her head or as the fold of a raised, shining cloak. Sometimes she was said to drive a team of oxen and her lunar crescent was likened to the horns of a bull. Selene’s great love was the shepherd prince Endymion. The beautiful boy was granted eternal youth and immortality by Zeus and placed in a state of eternal slumber in a cave near the peak of Lydian Mount Latmos. There his heavenly bride descended to consort with him in the night.A number of other goddesses were also associated with the moon, however, only Selene was represented by the old Greek poets represented as the moon incarnate.”

Roman Luna on a Globe Statuette, 2nd-3rd Century AD

Luna was the personification of the moon, equivalent to Greek Selene, often shown as an aspect of the Roman triple goddess (diva triformis), along with Proserpina and Hecate. Her billowing robes represent the endless forward motion of the goddess in her celestial chariot, while the silver detailing of the figure evokes moonlight.  Her chief temple was on the Aventine Hill in Rome.

Her Greek name means “light’ or radiance” and she was the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and sister to Helios, the sun god, and Eos, goddess of the dawn. Several lovers are attributed to her in various myths, including Zeus, Pan, and the mortal Endymion. In classical times, Selene was often identified with Artemis, much as her brother, Helios, was identified with Apollo. The poet Aeschylus calls Selene “the eye of the night” and other ancient literary references describe her the “bright and beautiful haired.” The Orphic Hymns give Selene horns and a torch, describing her as “all-seeing”, “all-wise”, a lover of horses and of vigilance, and a “foe of strife” who “gives to Nature’s works their destined end”. Paired with her brother Helios, Selene adorned the east pediment of the Parthenon, where the two framed a scene depicting the birth of Athena, with Helios driving his chariot rising from the ocean on the left, and Selene and her chariot descending into the sea on the right.

From Pausanias, we learn that Selene and Helios also framed the birth of Aphrodite on the base of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia. There are indications of a similar framing by Selene and Helios of the birth of Pandora on the base of the Athena Parthenos. Selene also appears on horseback as part of the Gigantomachy frieze of the Pergamon Altar. Due to her association with the moon she was the tutelary deity of magicians and sorcerers.

(Above, Selene Luna. Photo by Kaylin Idora)

My most well-known act is one I really do like to share the story behind. It’s my baby number where I come out of a vintage baby pram. One of the reasons I have so much fun with burlesque is that the flip side of my life is that I pursue a conventional acting career and burlesque allowed me to really express myself and experiment and make little statement without shoving stuff down their throats in a way you never can with conventional acting. I was inspired by silent movies. I was doing a lot of research for my one-woman show focusing on the history of little people in show biz. During the silent movie era little people were employed in films a lot more than they are now because you could be more politically incorrect. In some films they’d have a little person dressed as a baby portraying a burglar or jewel thief in a wacky Keystone Cop type of thing. The ongoing theme in these movies, which were cranked out like crazy, was that a little person would team up with an average size lady, they’d pretend he was her baby and he’d be smoking a cigar. Those bits cracked me up. So that burlesque number was my play on that. I come out of the carriage with the cigar. I really wanted to tap into that aesthetic. It’s my tribute to little people’s contribution to films. It still can be fun for people who don’t get the reference. It really tickles me when people are offended. I just thought it was cute and enchanting, but there’s always someone in the audience that doesn’t know how to react to me and I kind of get a rise out of it like I’m punking them. The first time I did that number an entire table of people walked out. Did they think I was tricked into doing it or something? isn’t that more much insulting than anything about the number could be? As far as I’m concerned we’re making lemonade! I feel lucky to be doing what I do. I’ve had more positive reactions than negative and that’s what matters

- Selene Luna, on her best known act. Quote Originally found at Daily Burlesque