Thoughts about Diana Nemorensis
Was reading some information about Diana Nemorensis and her sacred woods at Aricia and specifically her temple complex at Lake Nemi. One thing that caught my attention was the idea that perhaps what many accept of the triple goddess configuration for Diana there might be wrong. For reference most listings seem to suggest that Diana Nemorensis consists of three identities
1. Diana the Huntress holding a bow
2. Diana the Moon Goddess
3. Hecate representing the Netherworld
All three figures are depicted on coins standing next to one another and below a bar with cypress tree's above them. Earlier representations are believed to have depicted the same basic pattern only the middle figure was believed to have had the figure with it's right arm on the shoulder of the Huntress figure and the left arm on the waist of the Netherworld figure. But other than that basically the same depiction.
However, I was introduced to a differing perspective about the figures that I though rather interesting and worthy of consideration.
The first though not heavily endorsed suggest the following representation.
1. Diana Nemorensis holding the bow representing the Huntress and Mistress of the Grove
2. Diana Virbia
3. Diana Luciferia LIght Bringer / Bringer of Light - based on the flower she is holding that could be a light vice a flower
All three aspects are heavily represented at Nemi / Aricia. Nemorensis ties into the sacred woods aspect of the site itself. Lucifera ties into the temple which was known for it's procession of lights and the Mirror of Diana and the many lamps that were found within the temple ruins. Virbia ties into the mythology of the site and the Roman God Virbia, god of the woods who gets conflated with Hippolytus at Nemi and the story of Artemis.
Yet there is also another story that ties even deeper to the site and perhaps has an older history attachment. One that goes back to the Etruscan connection to the site's history. That on the surface seem's to make more sense if you compare the magical influences of Diana's woodland magic versus Hecate's more underworld and structured magical influence. That trinity is suggested as:
1. Diana Lucifera - Light Bringer / Bringer of Light - connected to the bow image
2. Luna Lucina - connected to the birthing influence of Luna as a moon goddess
3. A water Nymph Egeria w/ flower - connected to sacred groves & springs also connected to childbirth and has a history at Aricia
Egeria also has a connection to the Etruscan's via King Numa Pompilius in guiding and counselling him in setting up the original laws and rituals for Rome. Something which ties back into Aricia / Nemi being a place where disputes and legal matters would be settled by having representatives meet to settle those disputes before it became more associated with women.
If one looks to the image that is presumed to be a bow even that can be debated. It is equally possible to identify it as a handheld torch. The base of it has a small hook but the head has what appears to be three balls which could be flame points. yet it is not your typical rendition of a bow. So it could be a singular torch held to the right of the facing figure. I've added a second example that shows an image that looks more like a bow but could also be an elongated torch.
Should note the coins are minted about 41 - 43 B.C. and depict P. Accoleius Lariscolus from the Roman Republic period.