Friday, September 4, 2015

Weekly Geek! Diana - Names are Important.

This installment of our Weekly Geek comes from our "Names are Important" file.  It's probably one of the most important in our file and belongs to our protagonist: Diana Bishop.

The name "Diana" is most likely derived from an old Indo-European root meaning "heavenly, divine," related to dyeus.  In the Persian language Diana means "supplier (messenger) of beneficence & wellness."  As a given name, it has been regularly used since the Renaissance - Diana (mythology).

We are going to explore this daemons interpretation of it all - she blames this particular rabbit hole on Roman magic!  Going forward beyond this blog post, feel free to explore your own different theories and/or interpretations.  The important thing is the journey...not the destination!  Onward!

Diana Goddess of the Hunt by the Fountainbleu School

Diana was a Roman goddess of the moon, hunting, forests, and childbirth.  She was often identified with the Greek goddess Artemis.  The fact that our Diana takes her name from the Roman iteration of the Goddess is especially intriguing within the confines of our story.  On the surface, it may seem that Diana was chosen merely because it is a more common popular feminine name, but you know us daemons - always digging deeper!

The Goddess Diana by Guillaume Seignac
The interesting thing about the Romans is that while they never discounted the existence of magic, they tended to downplay the role of it in religious and cultural life. One scholar, Peter Veltri, looks to ancient Roman law, which characterized magical rituals as rather brutal/violent practices and something that should be restricted. “The Roman emperors tried to suppress the ‘other’ sciences, such as magic practices and astrology, because these allegedly attempted to undermine the imperial claim to be the sole authority and interpreter of history."  This daemon is not surprised that one theory for the suppression of magic boils down to control, order, and power with the Romans (paterfamilias, anyone?)  Another scholar, Justin Meggitt examines the record and presents this simple conclusion: your everyday Roman was skeptical about magic.

Diana of Versailles 2nd century Roman
In a way, Diana's attitude towards the magic in her life at the beginning of her journey is much like that of the Romans; something to be kept in a box.  It was to be controlled or summarily dismissed. To give it worth could result in a disastrous disruption of her orderly and contained life (we saw how that worked out in The Book of Life, while she wrestled with her fear in the Bodleian in her final pursuit of Ashmole 782).  The parallels are really uncanny!

Diana and Kallisto by Rubens
For further exploration, peruse the following:

Roman Magic: Control in an Uncertain World
Magic in Ancient Rome
Did Magic Matter? The Saliency of Magic in the Early Roman Empire

 Feed your daemons :-)

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