POUSSIN, Nicolas
(b. 1594, Les Andelys, d. 1665, Roma)

Selene and Endymion

c. 1630
Oil on canvas, 122 x 169 cm
Institute of Arts, Detroit

Selene in Greek mythology was the goddess of moon (Lat. Luna), whom the Romans identified with Diana (Gk. Artemis). The Romans worshipped her as a triple deity, Luna (the sky), Diana (the earth), Hecate (the underworld). According to myth she was the daughter of Jupiter and Latona (Leto), and the twin sister of Apollo.

Endymion, the beautiful youth who fell into an eternal sleep, has captured the imagination of poets and artists as a symbol of timelessness of beauty that is a 'joy forever.' Endymion, sent to sleep for ever by the command of Jupiter, in return for being granted perpetual youth, was visited nightly by the goddess. Poussin's painting shows Endymion awake, kneeling to welcome the arrival of the moon goddess, while her brother the sun-god is just beginning his journey across the heavens in his golden chariot.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.