also called Mene, a female divinity presiding over the months, or Latin Luna, was the goddess of the moon, or the moon personified into a divine being.
She is called a daughter of Hyperion and Theia, and accordingly a sister of Helios and Eos (Theogony of Hesiod 371 ; Apollodorus i. 2. § 2 ; Argonautica iv. 55) ; but others speak of her as a daughter of Hyperion by Euryphaessa, or of Pallas, or of Zeus and Latona, or lastly of Helios.
She is also called Phoebe, as the sister of Phoebus, the god of the sun.
Pan also is said to have had connexion with her in the shape of a white ram.
Selene is described as a very beautiful goddess, with long wings and a golden diadem and Aeschylus calls her the eye of night.
She rode, like her brother Helios, across the heavens in a chariot drawn by two white horses, cows, or mules.
She was represented on the pedestal of the throne of Zeus at Olympia, riding on a horse or a mule and at Elis there was a statue of her with two horns.
In later times Selene was identified with Artemis, and the worship of the two became amalgamated.
In works of art, however, the two divinities are usually distinguished; the face of Selene being more full and round, her figure less tall, and always clothed in a long robe; her veil forms an arch above her head, and above it there is the crescent.
At Rome Luna had a temple on the Aventine.
Selene and Endymion.
The best-known legend of Selene was that of her love for Endymion. The story was told differently in Elis and in Caria. According to the Elians, Endymion was a king of Elis whose tomb was still shown at Olympia and to whom Selene bore fifty daughters. According to the Carian tradition Endymion was a young prince who, hunting on Mount Latmus one day, lay down to rest in a cool grotto where he fell asleep. Selene saw him and, captivated by his beauty, stole a kiss while he slept. Endymion asked Zeus to grant him immortality and eternal youth; Zeus consented on condition that he remained eternally asleep.
Another tradition explains this eternal sleep as a punishment inflicted by Zeus on Endymion who, on his admission to Olympus, had been rash enough to aspire to Hera's love. Be this as it may, Selene came faithfully night after night silently to contemplate her sleeping lover. Thus the rays of the amorous moon come to caress the sleep of mortals.
[ See: Endymion A Poetic Romance by John Keats ]