「いとしき乙女」の意味。青銅器時代のクレータ島やエーゲ海諸島の太女神であったレアーの添え名[1]。昔のガリアの支配者にも同じ名前がつけられた。その支配者は、おそらく、太女神の精神を体現した女王であったと恩われる[2]オリュムポスの神々の神話によると、ブリトマルティスの母親はクレータ島の乙女カルメーであった。カルメーCarmeは別称をCar、 Car-Dia、 Carmenta、 Carnaなどと言った。このように名称は異なっていても、実際は、同ーの女神であったのである。祈祷や賛歌でこの女神はそうしたさまざまな添え名で呼ばれたために、のちには、異なった女神の名称、であると誤解されるようになった。そのためにカルメーは西欧では複数の女神たちとなり、東洋では千の名前を持つ女神となった。

[1]Larousse, 86.
[2]Briffaul 3, 400.

Barbara G. Walker : The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (Harper & Row, 1983)

britomatris.jpg 大地生成をつかさどるクレータ島の女神。ソーリーヌスによれば、「甘美な乙女」の意という。

The Drowning of Britomartis1547~59
Probably designed by Jean Cousin the Elder (French, ca. 1500~ca. 1560); possibly woven by Pierre II Blasse and Jacques Langlois (both French, active 1540~60)
Wool and silk; 15 ft. 3 in. x 9 ft. 6 in. (4.65 x 2.9 m)
Gift of the children of Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney, 1942 (42.57.1)

This tapestry is from a set depicting scenes from the story of Diana probably made for the ch液eau of Anet, about forty miles west of Paris, which was the chief residence of Henry II's mistress, Diane de Poitiers. She herself, born in 1499, was named after the goddess, a sign that the Renaissance, with its emulation of classical antiquity, had come to France.

The inscription in French verse on the upper border of the tapestry tells the story depicted:
Britomartis, pursued by Minos, who wished to take her by force in the woods, greatly preferred to end her life in the sea rather than submit to his outrageous will. Accordingly, wishing to give her fame for her death, Phoebe [Diana] invested fishnets and snares, with which the body was brought to a holy place, and since then the Greeks have called her Dictynna ["fishnet"]. O holy death, that gave such a valuable thing to the world by means of such a misfortune!
Diana stands in the center of the tapestry, a crescent on a support above her forehead. To the right, the drowning Britomartis raises one hand above the water. In the middle distance, Minos, king of Crete, stands looking into the water with his arms raised in astonishment, while Britomartis' body is being fished out of the water to the right. In the left background we see Minos pursuing Britomartis, and farther back, to the right, Diana hands a net to two men.

The version of the story shown here is not precisely that found in the writings of any classical author, and the invention of the net by Diana does not seem to be a classical idea at all. It is here in order to glorify Diane de Poitiers, who is portrayed in the guise of the goddess. The borders of the tapestry are marked by the Greek character delta and other symbols of Diane.

This is one of the richly colored and beautifully designed tapestries that once may have decorated the main halls of the Château at Anet, which was built from 1557 onward for Diane de Poitiers, mistress to King Henri II of France.