From the fair power
and the embrace of Jove
Pandeia sprung, the fruit of secret love:
Pandeia, bless’d with charms of form and face,
The first and fairest mid the immortal race.
– Ode to the Moon, by Homer
This weekend the Moon broadens to show us Her full face, and
at the same time, the Sun will align so that the Earth’s shadow will turn Her
red. (In other words, a lunar eclipse.) In honor of that relatively uncommon
event, this week’s post is about the daughter of Selene, Pandeia.
Daughter of Zeus and Selene. The Homeric Hymns tell us that She
is surpassingly beautiful. We learn from Virgil that she slept with Pan (though
this may be play on the similarities of their names.)
Some texts list Nemeia (a nymph of a spring near the town of
Nemea) or Ersa (the Goddess of the morning dew) with Her same pedigree, and it
is unclear as to whether these are other sisters (as Robert Bell posits) or if
they are the same or if they are differing traditions from different poleis.
There aren’t any surviving stories of Pandeia, just a few
scant mentions of Her being the daughter of the son of Kronos and the Moon. Theoi
speculates that She is a Moon Goddess in Her own right as well as being the
same as Ersa. Robert Parker seems to agree that Pandeia is a Goddess of the
Moon, though he does not describe his reasoning. Her inclusion in the Homeric Ode above seems
to lend weight to the idea.
There simply is too little that has survived to tell us
about Her cultus. Perhaps there remains an opportunity for someone to rebuild it today.
Bell, Robert E. Women of Classical
Mythology. ABC-CLIO, 1991.
Faulkner, Andrew. The
Homeric Hymns: Interpretive Essays, Oxford, 2011.
Hard, Robin. The
Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology, Psych. Press, 2004.
Batrachomuomachia or, The Battle of the Frogs and Mice, with the Hymns and
Epigrams of Homer, trans. Thomas Parnell, Richard Hole, Henry J. Pye,
Whittingham and Rowland, 1810.
Parker, Robert. Polytheism
and Society at Athens. Oxford, 2005.
Richardson, N. “Constructing a Hymnic Narrative:
Tradition and Innovation in the Longer Homeric
Hymns,” in Hymnic Narrative and
the Narratology of Greek Hymns, edited by Andrew Faulkner, Owen Hodkinson. Brill, 2015.
“Moon During Lunar Eclipse,” by Oliver Stein, via