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About Me:I'm a graduate student studying International Criminal Law and first started writing for King's News almost 4 years ago! My hobbies include reading, travelling and charity work. I cover many categories but my favourite articles to write are about mysteries of the ancient world, interesting places to visit, the Italian language and animals!
When a hunters fails to quench his curiosity a goddess filled with rage does the unthinkable – this is tragic the story of Diana and Actaeon.
Diana features in many Roman myths as the Greek goddess of hunting, birthing and the moon. It is said that she is the daughter of Jupiter and Latona and twin of Apollo, the Roman god of the Sun. She is a feisty goddess, both the protector and hunter of wild animals. Along with Minerva (goddess of poetry, wisdom and medicine and the equivalent to the Greek goddess Athens) and Vesta (goddess of the home and family, the Roman equivalent to the Greek goddess Hestia), Diana swore never to marry.
One day the goddess was bathing naked in a stream. Nobody – not even the most adventurous of satyrs – dared pass by the sacred cave and stream until one hunter stumbled upon it at the most inconvenient of times. Actaeon, grandson of King Cadmus, needed a rest from his day of hunting so he left his companions and wandered into the depths of the forest. He started to hear the melodious symphonies of something regal, possibly the sound of woodland deities, and although good reason begged him to head back to his fellow hunters Actaeon continued to venture. After a while the melodies became evermore louder and Actaeon came across the sacred stream in which Diana was bathing and laughing with her nymphs. Once again a voice in his head urged him to turn around but Actaeon was filled with curiosity – he had to see who it was. Carefully positioning himself at the entrance of the cave – weary as a hunter is when focalising his prey – Actaeon gazed at the beautiful goddess who was a pure vision of art. Suddenly, Diana caught his eye and was filed with rage at such an infidel violating act. Fearing that Actaeon would then boast about the encounter to his friends she acted immediately. Speechless, Actaeon felt antlers growing from his forehead. He fell to his knees in dismay, the goddess Diana had turned the hunter into the prey - she had turned Actaeon into a stag! It was not long before a bewildered Actaeon heard the barks of dogs and the pacing of men racing towards him; now a stag, Actaeon was devoured by his own dogs in a tragic yet ever so ironic twist of fate.
The Romans used this story to warn men of the consequences our curiosity can bring – a similar moral is found in stories such as the Medusa as, once a man lifts his gaze to meet her eyes he is turned to stone. Myth aside, you can gaze upon the true admirable beauty of Diana the goddess of the hunt in the gardens of the Palace of Caserta, located in Southern Italy (See article in places to go category on palace for more info). The statues in the fountain perfectly capture the crime scene as Actaeon the now stag is being attacked by his own dogs and Diana is surrounded by her nymphs and trying to cover herself on the other side of the fountain. The price of beauty is one of the most recurrent poetical inquires and, as a master of art itself, John Keats suggests that ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’. If you had the chance to discover true beauty like Actaeon did what would you do?
Both pictures are of the gardens of the Palace of Caserta.
Image 1 Diana bathing: http://www.incampania.com/assets/img/Turismo/big/giardino-inglese.jpg
Image 2 Actaeon attacked by his own dogs: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2686/4269149638_e10d29b708_m.jpg