Dione, (Greek: Διώνη, pronounced: /daɪˈoʊni/), in Greek mythology is a vague goddess presence who has her most concrete form in Book V of Homer's Iliad as the mother of Aphrodite. Aphrodite journeys to Dione's side after she has been wounded in battle while protecting her favorite son Aeneas. In this episode, Dione seems to be the equivalent of Gaia the Earth Mother, whom Homer also placed in Olympus, and to that extent might be classed as a "mother goddess". Dione's Indo-European name is really less a name than simply a title: the "Goddess", etymologically a female form of Zeus. After the Iliad, Aphrodite herself was sometimes referred to as "Dionaea" and even "Dione", just "the goddess" (Peck 1898).
The name of the Roman goddess "Diana" has a similar etymology but she is not otherwise connected with Dione.
At the very ancient oracle of Zeus at Dodona, Dione rather than Hera, was considered the goddess companion of Zeus, as many surviving votive inscriptions show. The birds associated with her at Dodona are doves, and her priestesses at Dodona were known as "doves", peliades.
Although Dione is not a Titan in Hesiod, but appears instead in his Theogony among the long list of Oceanids, Apollodorus includes her among the Titans and the Roman mythographer Gaius Julius Hyginus makes her the daughter of the Titan Atlas. In the sculptural frieze of the Great Altar of Pergamum (2nd century BCE), Dione (inscribed in the cornice directly above with her name) figures in the eastern third of the north frieze, among the Olympian family of Aphrodite; thus she is an exception to the rule, detected by Erika Simon, that the organizational principle according to which the gods on the Great Altar were grouped, was Hesiodic: her company in the grouping of offspring of Uranos and Gaia is Homeric rather than Hesiodic, as is her appearance in the east pediment of the Parthenon (illustration) but serves perhaps also to show how imperfect the fit in was her inclusion among any purely Olympian schema.
The archaic king Tantalus in Lydia had Dione as a consort: Hyginus says that Dione, daughter of Atlas, was the mother, by Tantalus, of Pelops, Niobe, and Broteas. See also Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.172 If a king's consort is "Dione", the logical implication is that he justifies his authority as the earthly, visible consort of "The Goddess" in an archaic model of sacred kingship.
- In the late second century CE, Pausanias notes (iii.22.4) at "Acriae, a city on the coast. Well worth seeing here are a temple and marble image of the Mother of the Gods. The people of Acriae say that this is the oldest sanctuary of this goddess in the Peloponnesus, although the Magnesians, who live to the north of Mount Sipylus, have on the rock Coddinus the most ancient of all the images of the Mother of the gods. The Magnesians say that it was made by Broteas the son of Tantalus." The connections Pausanias makes show that this Mother of the Gods was Cybele.
- A room is devoted to finds from Dodona in the museum at Ioannina.
- Herodotus, II.55, tells the local story of the oravcle's founding: a black dove flew from Egypt, establishing the shrine in the sacred oak grove dedicated to the Earth Mother.
- Dorothy Burr Thompson, "A Dove for Dione" Hesperia Supplements, 20, Studies in Athenian Architecture, Sculpture and Topography. Presented to Homer A. Thompson (1982:155-219).
- Hesiod, Theogony 353.
- Apollodorus, Library, 1.1.3.
- Hyginus, Fabulae 83.
- Simon, Pergamon und Hesiod, (Mainz) 1975.
- Aphrodite in the lap of Dione is the identification of Rhys Carpenter (Carpenter, "On Restoring the East Pediment of the Parthenon" American Journal of Archaeology 66.3 [July 1962:265-268] p. 267).
- Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, ISBN 9780631201021. "Dione" p. 138
- Peck, Harry Thurston, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers, 1898.
- Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Dio'ne"
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