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Author Topic: Torches for Hekate / Hecate , Artemis and Diana  (Read 5462 times)


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Torches for Hekate / Hecate , Artemis and Diana
« on: September 28, 2011, 12:06:23 am »
One of the tale tale signs for Hekate / Hecate is her association with torches. In many engravings, pictures and paintings Hekate / Hecate is depicted with her twin torches, many times using them to illuminate the way as she leads Persephone and Demeter from the underworld. Many times if one is in doubt look to see if there are two torches and it becomes a prime item for identification. Other times holding them as she stands in her tri-formus shape in some piece of statuary.

Yet is it as reliable as an identifier as some might think or suggest?

On the surface it might seem a good call but Hekate / Hecate is not the only goddess to be depicted with torches. The goddesses Artemis and Diana are also both frequently depicted with torches. Therein lies part of the difficulty in stating a goddess is probably Hekate / Hecate due to the association of torches in an image, especially if the depiction shows two torches. Further complicated due to the sharing of attributes between the three.

For Diana the display is normally a bit easier to identify. When she is being displayed as Diana Lucifera (Bringer of Light) it's usually depicted as a single torch with a long handle. The overall impression almost seemingly to show her carrying a spear vice a torch. Many examples of this pose being engraved on coins of Rome.

where it can be a bit of an issue are on coins or images that depict Diana as the Huntress and include her usage of a spear vice the normal usage of Bow and Arrows. While not exceptionally wide spread or common in usage it is displayed on some coins and referenced in some writings.

Like Diana Artemis to is depicted with both Spear and torch (s) on various coins, engravings and carvings. While the depiction with a spear is unusual for the most part she is frequently depicted with one when portrayed by her Aetolian references.

When depicted with torches it’s usually a singular long shafted torch similar to depictions of Diana Lucifera. In such instances it's relatively easy to separate her from Hecate / Hekate. Yet at times Artemis is depicted with twin torches which resemble the imagery of Hecate / Hekate. Short handled torches being the significant point of comparison between the two.

While most items from antiquity show Hekate / Hecate bearing two short handled torches one finds many current depictions of her with two long handled torches. Torches that seem to be as tall as the image portrayed of Hekate / Hecate herself. While some engraving or carvings give the impression of long torches compared to the imagery they are seen as short handled torches for the most part.

I have intentionally omitted modern renditions of each of the goddesses discussed here. To establish a historical basis they did not have the antiquity and common cultural application desired to show the comparison.

So while the torch is a critical item of identification for Hekate / Hecate one must look beyond that singular item to determine if it is in fact her. When Hekate / Hecate is displayed near or alongside Artemis the identification becomes easier, such as displayed on the Pergamum Wall.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2011, 12:15:42 am by monsnoleedra »


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