Overview of Selene’s Cult Centers

In his Guide to Greece, Pausanias comments on a few minor examples. Firstly in Lakedaimonia, on a road between Oitylos and Thalamai about “eighty stades” long there was a sanctuary of Ino that had an oracle. Here, statues in bronze of Helios and Pasiphae stood in an open part of the sanctuary. There was also a sacred spring where “water, sweet to drink” flows. Pausanias makes note that Pasiphae is a title of Selene and not a local goddess of the people of Thalamai. (Pausanias, Guide to Greece 3.26.1)

It is also mentioned that images on the throne in the temple of Zeus at Olympia depict Selene riding what is thought to be a horse though it is also said that the steed is actually a mule and that a “silly story” surrounds this claim. (Pausanias, Guide to Greece 5.11.8)

In the market-place at Elis, stone images of Selene and Helios once stood. Selene is depicted with “horns” emmanating from her head. (Pausanias, Guide to Greece 6.24.6)

Ovid (Fasti 3.883) comments on Selene (as Luna) ruling the months and that “Luna closes this month’s time with her worship on the Aventine Hill.”

The Greek geographer, Strabo, describes the ritual performed in honor of Selene by the Albanians in book 11 of his work, Geographica: “As for gods, they honor Helius, Zeus, and Selene, but especially Selene; her temple is near Iberia. The office of priest is held by the man who, after the king, is held in highest honor; he has charge of the sacred land, which is extensive and well-populated, and also of the temple slaves, many of whom are subject to religious frenzy and utter prophecies. And any one of those who, becoming violently possessed, wanders alone in the forests, is by the priest arrested, bound with sacred fetters, and sumptuously maintained during that year, and then led forth to the sacrifice that is performed in honor of the goddess, and, being anointed, is sacrificed along with other victims. The sacrifice is performed as follows: Some person holding a sacred lance, with which it is the custom to sacrifice human victims, comes forward out of the crowd and strikes the victim through the side into the heart, he being not without experience in such a task; and when the victim falls, they draw auguries from his fall and declare them before the public; and when the body is carried to a certain place, they all trample upon it, thus using it as a means of purification.”