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Diana and Actaeon, oil on canvas, 150x127cm

In Greek mythology Diana was the virgin huntress and one of the twelve gods and goddesses of Olympus.  She was also identified with the moon goddess Luna, and as such she wears a crescent moon on her brow.  In her guise as a huntress she is depicted carrying a bow and quiver, and is accompanied by dogs. 
The story of Diana and Actaeon is described at length in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  While hunting in the forest, the young prince Actaeon stumbles upon Diana and her nymphs bathing by a stream.  Diana punishes Actaeon for seeing her in the nude by turning him into a stag.  The present picture depicts the moment that Actaeon has glimpsed Diana and is rushing away with his hands raised in astonishment, with his fate already decided.  Diana gestures in his direction while holding one of her arrows.  Actaeon runs away, only to be pursued and torn apart by his own pack of dogs.    

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