Diana, an ancient Italian divinity, corresponding in most of her attributes with the Greek Artemis. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto or Latona, and the twin sister of Apollo, and the island of Delos is generally assigned as her birthplace. She represented as a female divinity the same idea that Apollo did as a male divinity, and like her brother sent plague and death among men and animals; but as Apollo was also the alleviator as well as the author of suffering, so she too was a preserving goddess, watching over the sick and aiding the unfortunate. As sister of the sun god, she was goddess of the moon; hence her identification in later times with Selene or Luna, and her Latin names Lucina and Phoebe. Unlike Apollo, she had nothing to do with music or poetry. She was the guardian of young girls and of women in childbirth, but was herself a virgin, and the ministers of her worship were vowed to chastity. As the goddess of the moon she wore a long robe and veil, with the crescent moon above her forehead. In Arcadia she was the patron of hunting and of sylvan sports, and as such she was represented with a bow, quiver, and arrows.

She loved to dwell in groves and in the vicinity of wells, and to dance with her nymphs in the forest; and nearly all her surnames and epithets are derived from mountains, rivers, or lakes, indicating that she was the representative of some power of nature. In Tauris she was worshipped with human sacrifices, and in Sparta boys were scourged at her altar till it was sprinkled with their blood, a ceremony said to have been introduced by Lycurgus as a substitute for immolation. The Ephesian Artemis was the personification of the fructifying powers of nature, and was represented in her magnificent temple at Ephesus as a goddess with many breasts. The worship of the Roman Diana is said to have been introduced by the Sabines and Latins. A temple was erected to her on the Aventine by Servius Tullius, and the day of its dedication was celebrated every year by slaves of both sexes, and was called the day of the slaves. From this it is inferred that Diana was an inferior deity in Rome in the early days, and that her worship was not recognized by the ruling patricians; but whatever was her original character, she afterward became identified with the Greek divinity.