Selene is the Titan goddess of the moon and the daughter of Hyperion and Theia (although Zeus is sometimes attributed as her father). She is believed to be an earlier moon goddess than Artemis, who replaced her in the later pantheon. Often depicted as a lovely young winged woman with a crescent moon-shaped headdress, she often appears on a chariot drawn by a white horse or oxen. While many other goddesses were associated with the moon, Selene was represented as the moon incarnate by the ancient Greek poets. Selene is the deity associated with the power of sleep and control over time. Selene was associated with many lovers (including the god Pan, who gave her the gift of a white horse), but her great love was the shepherd prince Endymion. Zeus granted the beautiful boy eternal youth and immortality, but only under the condition that he be placed in a state of infinite slumber in a cave near Mount Latmos, where Selene would descend to be with him at night. Selene is typically associated with the changeable nature of the moon, but she herself hates change, which is why she asks Zeus to give Endymion immortality. (However, many sources cite that Selene asking permission of Zeus is an Olympian transformation of an older myth, and in fact, the moon goddess acted autonomously.) Selene ultimately bears the sleeping prince 50 daughters, known as the “Menes,” or months (there were 50 months between the Olympic Games). In the pre-Olympian theogonies, Helios, the sun, is Selene’s brother. After Helios makes his rounds across the sky, Selene–who has just bathed in the waters of Oceanus, begins her journey and lights the earth when night descends. Selene’s sister Eos is the goddess of the dawn. The story of Eos carrying off her human lover Cephalus mirrors the tale of Selene and Endymion.
Of her play, Selene, or Someone Like The Moon, author Nirmala Nataraj writes: “In a Northern California convalescent home, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients find themselves haunted by long-lost loves, splintered dreams, and the possibility of renewed life in the face of rapidly disappearing memories. One of the patients, Endymion, is visited by a beautiful woman at night who may hold the keys to his lost identity. This is a play about aging, love, death, and both the persistence and impermanence of memory.”
SELENE or SOMEONE LIKE THE MOON by Nirmala Nataraj
staged reading October 27, 2011
Directed by Amy Clare Tasker
Eric Nelson (Eric)
Siobhan Marie Doherty (Selene)
Carl Lucania (Raymond)
Jan Marsh (Violane)
Allison Page (Chloe)
Cynthia Roberts (Dr. Hypnos)
Lauren Spencer (Mnemosyne)
Analisa Svehaug (Stage Directions)
Nirmala Nataraj is a San Francisco-based critic and playwright. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, SF Weekly, Theatre Bay Area magazine, and American Theatre magazine (of which she was a Bay Area Commissioning Fund recipient in 2008). Nirmala is an original member of No Nude Men Productions. Her work has been featured at the Climate Theatre, EXIT Stage Left, Femina Potens, the Queer Women of Color Film Festival, the San Francisco Theater Festival, and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Her play, Aphrodite: A Romance in Infomercials, had its premiere reading at the 2010 San Francisco Olympians Festival.
The image of Selene was created by Brett Grunig. You can view his portfolio, here.