Who: One of the most ancient of goddesses, Hecate survived Zeus's banishment of the rest of her tribe from Olympus and was granted part dominion over the earth, sea, and heavens. As such, she bestowed material blessings those who pleased her. In time, however, she became associated with the underworld, witchcraft, and sorcery. "She is, in short, a convenient symbol of a dark-age notion of 'the feminine'—a figure, in various guises, of mystery, beauty, and fertility, but at heart, a succubus. She attracts, she seduces, she consumes."—Louis Menand, from the introduction to Memoirs of Hecate County
Where: Edmund Wilson's enchanted suburb, Hecate County, is ruled over by housewives who get up to mischief during by day, but welcome their husbands home in the evening, highball in hand.
Resonance: Hecate represents the Roman trivia, or "three ways." Her three-headed likeness was placed at Roman crossroads. She is the embodiment of choice. The hero of "The Princess with the Golden Hair" is involved with three women. He is afraid that "a spell" has been cast over him.
Her 1940s avatar: "I found her this time in a velvet gown, sumptuous and wine-purple...She was wearing gold-embroidered sandals of the high-heeled kind then in vogue that left the instep attractively unprotected; and she had parted her hair in the middle and plaited it in two gorgeous braids that were wound around her head like a diadem. She was sitting in a carved high-backed chair."
Proof that she retains some traces of power: "The Princess with the Golden Hair" was banned in New York State on the grounds of obscenity. No less great literary authority than Lionel Trilling testified in its defense, to no avail. The case went to the Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court's ban.