Naked cheek and the other Diana

This wasn't Princess Diana at all. This was Diana the huntress ...

LAST WEEK I was walking through the streets of a deserted Spanish town (it was deserted because all the local German holiday-makers had retreated indoors to watch their team nearly lose to Yugoslavia) when I passed a bar called Bar Diana. I couldn't believe my eyes. A bar named after you know who. Yes, perhaps the first pub anywhere named after Diana.

My first thought was that it seemed a little downmarket to name a drinking establishment after the sainted princess. Memorial gardens, yes. Charities, yes. But a pub?

My second thought was to think, well, at least Earl Spencer will be getting a cut out of all this, and devoting the money to a good cause, probably.

My third thought was to look again closely at the effigy of the female figure outside the bar, and think how tastelessly revealing the costume was. Poor Diana, to be presented thus alluringly. The loose-fitting sports attire made no attempt to cover the legs and not much attempt to cover the upper body, while the bow and arrows over her shoulder ...

It was the bow and arrows that caused me to pause. Why would Princess Diana be carrying a bow and arrows?

Because, of course, this wasn't Princess Diana at all. This was Diana the huntress, Diana the goddess, the Diana after whom Princess Diana was named, albeit distantly. This Spanish bar must have been here for years before anyone had ever heard of Princess Diana, alive or dead. It was simply a bar honouring the long gone Greek goddess who had ...

Had what?

I realised that apart from the fact that she was a huntress, I knew little about Diana. The only firm memory I had was of the crowd in the New Testament running about Ephesus shouting, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians", not unlike the crowds in London last year. So when I got home I got down my Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, and looked up Diana, or Artemis, as the Greeks called her.

First things first. She was nothing to do with Diana of Ephesus, worshipped by the Amazons. This Diana was a fertility goddess "whose body is tightly sheathed in a robe, covered with animal heads which leaves her bosom with its multiple breasts exposed". Robe covered with animal heads? Multiple breasts? Not quite the fashion note struck by Princess Diana - she seems to have had much more in common with the the real goddess Diana, "who appears to us as a young virgin, slim and supple, with narrow hips and regular features. Her beauty is a little severe, with her hair drawn back or partly gathered in a knot on her head. She wears a short tunic which does not fall below her knees ..."

She was also the deity of sudden death, which fits in somewhat gloomily with Princess Diana, though Larousse makes it clear that where sudden death was concerned, the goddess Diana was usually at the dispatching end, and her victims were usually young women. Diana had a band of young nymphs with whom she spent the whole time hunting, and if any of them found their attention straying from deer to young lovers, Diana would often get rid of them not by firing them but by firing an arrow through them. Yes, it was obviously fatal to fall foul of Diana, especially if you were Actaeon. Actaeon was the young man who happened to be out hunting and to see Diana and the girls bathing with no clothes on. For this disrespect Diana shot him.

I also feel sorry for Callisto, a nymph who was seduced by Zeus in disguise and was likewise given the chop by an unforgiving Diana. This is all the more unfair as Zeus was Diana's father, and Diana was clearly punishing Callisto for what was her own father's misdemeanour. So there are curious parallels between the two Dianas (both dressed simply and exquisitely, both were dangerous to cross, both suffered from their royal connections, both were keep-fit fanatics and had philandering fathers) and curious ways in which they were quite opposite (Princess Diana loathed hunting, but did not loathe young lovers).

Both Dianas also had brothers who played parts in their story, one of them being Earl Spencer and the other Apollo. It isn't safe to draw many parallels here, as Earl Spencer and his lawyers are alive and well, but it is interesting that Apollo had a chequered and promiscuous love life, and that he twice got into deep trouble by speaking out against the royal family (of Zeus, his father). However, Apollo was also a god of music and good taste, so there apparently the likeness ends ...

Coming soon in our round-up of Greek deities still honoured today: a look at Apollo Leisure, Mercury Telephones and Athene Posters.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions