The Rex Nemorensis – King of the Wood: The Ghastly Priest who Slew the Slayer (reblog)

Under the influence!

Image by Gerson Martinez from Pixabay

“From the still glassy lake that sleeps

Beneath Aricia’s trees

Those trees in whose dim shadow

The ghastly priest doth reign,

The priest who slew the slayer,

And shall himself be slain” (1)

Thomas Babbington Macaulay

These words by Thomas Babbington Macaulay succinctly sum up the deadly duel of life and death to decide the Rex Nemorensis, the legendary High Priest of Diana Nemorensis of the Sacred Grove of Lake Nemi. The Rex Nemorensis was a shadowy figure in ancient Greek and Roman myth and legend. Most versions of his story agree that he earned his title and role by winning a fight to the death to become the “ghastly priest” of the above verse. Here we shall briefly discuss the mythical goddess of the Sacred Grove, Diana Nemorensis, followed by a look at her high priest and his deadly duel…

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4 thoughts on “The Rex Nemorensis – King of the Wood: The Ghastly Priest who Slew the Slayer (reblog)

  1. leennascreativebox

    Interesting! I’ve read the post and I’m wondering if the ‘King of The Wood’ and challenger idea wasn’t what inspired the newer Arthurian tales of the Green Knight and (I think) the Black Knight?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. solsdottir Post author

      Possibly the account in Strabo’s Geography (and other sources) may have influenced the author. It’s the sort of thing someone who learned the classics would very likely know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ceridwensilverhart

    The way the Rex Nemorensis priesthood works reminds me a bit of how lions supposedly operate, challengers trying to unseat an incumbent who only holds his place until he weakens or a stronger challenger appears.


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