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Artemis (Greek: nominative Ἄρτεμις, genitive Ἀρτέμιδος), in Olympian Greek mythology the daughter of Zeus and of Leto and the twin sister of Apollo, was one of the most widely venerated gods and manifestly one of the oldest deities (Burkert 1985:149). In later times she was conflated with the Roman goddess Diana. In Etruscan mythology, she took the form of Artume. Deer and cypress are sacred to her.


[edit] Worship

Greek deities
Primordial deities
Aquatic deities
Chthonic deities
Personified concepts
Other deities
Zeus and Hera,
Poseidon, Hades,
Hestia, Demeter,
Aphrodite, Athena,
Apollo, Artemis,
Ares, Hephaestus,
Hermes, Dionysus

Artemis was worshipped almost everywhere in Greece. Her best known sites of cult were in her birthplace, the island of Delos, and in Brauron, Mounikhia (located on a hill near the port Piraeus), and Sparta.

In Ionia the "Lady of Ephesus", a goddess whom Hellenes identified with Artemis, was a principal deity. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was probably the best known center of her worship apart from Delos. In Acts of the Apostles, the Ephesian metalsmiths who feel threatened by Paul's preaching of the new faith, jealously riot in her defense, shouting "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" (Acts 19:28 KJV).

Athenian festivals in honor of Artemis include Elaphebolia, Mounikhia, Kharisteria, Brauronia, and the festival of Artemis Orthia in Sparta.

Young Athenian girls between the ages of five and ten were sent to the sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron to serve the Goddess for one year. During this time the girls were known as arktoi, or little she-bears. A myth explaining this servitude relates that a bear had gotten into the habit of regularly visiting the town of Brauron, and the people there fed it, so that over time the bear became tame. A young girl teased the bear, and, in some versions of the myth it killed her, while in other versions it clawed her eyes out. Either way, the girl's brothers killed the bear, and Artemis was enraged. She demanded that young girls "act the bear" at her sanctuary in atonement for the bear's death.

Virginal Artemis was worshipped as a fertility/childbirth goddess in some places[citation needed] since, according to some myths, she assisted her mother in the delivery of her twin. During the Classical period in Athens, she was identified with Hecate. Artemis also assimilated Caryatis (Carya) and Ilithyia.

[edit] Artemis in art

The oldest representations of Artemis in Greek Archaic art portray her as Potnia Theron ("Queen of the Beasts"): a winged goddess holding a stag and leopard in her hands, or sometimes a leopard and a lion.

In Greek classical art she is usually portrayed as a maiden huntress clothed in a girl's short skirt, with hunting boots, a quiver, a silver bow and arrows. Often she is shown in the shooting pose, and is accompanied by a hunting dog or stag. Her darker side is revealed in some vase paintings, where she is shown as the death-bringing goddess whose arrows fell young maidens and women. The attributes of the goddess were often varied: bow and arrows were sometimes replaced by hunting spears; as a goddess of maiden dances she held a lyre; as a goddess of light a pair of flaming torches.

Some sculptures such as the "Diana de Gabie" were entirely without attributes, and she becomes simply the Maiden.

Only in post-Classical art do we find representations of Artemis-Diana with the crown of the crescent moon, as Lunba. In the ancient world, although she was occasionally associated with the moon, she was never portrayed as the moon itself. Ancient statues of the goddesses can sometimes be found with crescent moons, however these are invariably Renaissance-era additions.

Image:Artemis breasts.jpg
Closeup of statue of Artemis from Asia Minor, now in the Vatican Museums, Rome.

In Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis became one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Here she was worshipped primarily as a mother goddess, akin to the Phrygian goddess Cybele. Her cult statue was adorned with multiple rounded protuberances on her chest. They were formerly believed to be multiple breasts but are now thought by some to have represented bull testes (see right)[citation needed] .

Artemis can also appear triple-faced with Selene, goddess of the moon, and Hecate, her cousin and goddess of sorcery, who lives in the underworld.

[edit] Aputatons

As Agrotera, she was especially associated as the patron goddess of hunters. Artemis was often associated with the local Aeginian goddess, Aphaea. As Potnia Theron, she was the patron of wild animals; Homer used this title. As Kourotrophos, she was the nurse of youths. As Locheia, she was the goddess of childbirth and midwives. She was sometimes known as Cynthia, from her birthplace on Mount Cynthus on Delos, or Amarynthia from a festival in her honor initially held originally at Amarynthus in Euboea. She sometimes used the name Phoebe, the feminine form of her brother, Apollo's, Phoebus.

Agrotera was an avatar of Artemis, and goddess of war. Ancient Spartans used to sacrifice to her before starting a new military campaign.

[edit] Etymology

There may be some connection with the Greek αρτεμης = "safe and sound" from the root αρ = "to fit".

[edit] Birth

In Greek mythology Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. Leto had to find a place where the sun had never shone to give birth to the two due to a curse set by Hera, Zeus' wife. For this, Zeus rose an island that had been floating underwater and not yet touched by the sun. The island was Delos, and Leto gave birth there. In many tales, Artemis was born first and then assisted Leto in the birth of her brother. However, there are cases when the two were born at the same time. Artemis and Apollo were born greater than any of Hera's children.

[edit] Childhood

At three years old, Artemis asked her father, Zeus, while sitting on the god king's knee, to grant her several wishes. First she asked to remain a virgin forever. She then asked to never have to be married and to have lop-eared hounds, stags to lead her chariot, and nymphs as her hunting companions. She also requested the power to converse with animals. He granted her wishes. All of her companions remained virgins, and Artemis guarded her chastity very, very closely.

[edit] Tales of Artemis and men

[edit] Actaeon

She was once bathing naked in the woods when the Theban prince and hunter Actaeon stumbled across her. He stopped and stared, amazed at her ravishing beauty. He was so stunned that he accidentally stepped on a twig, and Artemis noticed him. She was so disgusted at his stares that she threw magical water at his forehead. The water transformed him into a stag and his own hounds killed him. He was torn apart by the deadly hunting dogs, who never knew that the stag they were hunting was their own master. Alternatively, Actaeon boasted that he was a better hunter than she and Artemis turned him into a stag and he was eaten by his hounds.

[edit] Adonis

In some versions of the story of Adonis, Artemis sent a wild boar to kill Adonis as punishment for boasting he was superior in hunting.

In other versions, she killed him for revenge. Adonis was Aphrodite's favourite like Hippolytus had been Artemis'. When Aphrodite killed Hippolytus, Artemis had her revenge by killing Adonis.

[edit] Siproites

A Cretan, Siproites, saw Artemis nude and was changed by her into a deer. (The complete story does not survive in any mythographers works, but is mentioned offhand by Antoninus Liberalis.)

[edit] Orion

In some versions of the story of Orion, he was killed by Artemis, while in others he was killed by a scorpion sent by Apollo. There is a modern idea that Artemis once loved Orion, wanted to marry him, and was tricked into killing him, but this was actually a myth of Diana. However she was tricked into killing him. It is mentioned only in the Latin source "Poetic Astronomy" by Hyginus and does not occur anywhere in Greek sources or in direct connection with Artemis.

[edit] Other stories

[edit] Callisto

Image:Tizian 015.jpg
Tizian's Diana and Callisto
Artemis killed any of her companions who lost their virginity, such as Maera and Callisto.

One of Artemis' companions, Callisto, lost her virginity to Zeus, who had come disguised as Apollo or, in other legends, as Artemis herself. Enraged, Artemis changed her into a bear. Callisto's son, Arcas, nearly killed his mother while hunting, but Zeus or Artemis stopped him and placed them both in the sky as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Other versions say Artemis killed the bear with an arrow.

[edit] Agamemnon and Iphigenia

Artemis punished Agamemnon after he killed a sacred deer in a sacred grove and boasted he was a better hunter. On his way to Troy to participate in the Trojan War, Agamemnon's ships were suddenly motionless as Artemis stopped the wind. An oracle named Calchis told Agamemnon that the only way to appease Artemis was to sacrifice Iphigenia, his daughter. According to some versions, he did so, but others claims that he sacrificed a deer in her place and Iphigenia was taken to Crimea to prepare others for sacrifice to Artemis.

[edit] Niobe

A Queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because while she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven boys and seven girls, Leto had only one of each. When Artemis and Apollo heard this, they raced over to seek revenge. Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, and they suffered painfully to death, and Artemis shot her daughters who died instantly without a sound. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, killed himself or was killed by Apollo. A devastated Niobe was turned to stone by Artemis as she wept, or committed suicide. In some myths she was thrown into a forsaken part of the Egyptian desert. Another says that her tears formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the people of Thebes to stone and so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods themselves entombed them.

[edit] Taygete

Zeus pursued Taygete, one of the Pleiades, who prayed to Artemis. The goddess turned Taygete into a doe but Zeus raped her when she was unconscious. She thus conceived Lacedaemon, the mythical founder of Sparta.

[edit] Otus and Ephialtes

Otus and Ephialtes were a pair of brothers and giants. At one point, they wanted to storm Mt. Olympus. They managed to kidnap Ares and hold him in a jar for thirteen months. He was only released when Artemis offered to marry Otus. This made Ephialtes envious and the pair fought. Artemis changed herself into a white deer and jumped between them. The Aloadae, not wanting her to get away because they were eager huntsmen, threw pieces of their javelins and killed each other.

[edit] The Meleagrids

After the death of Meleager, Artemis turned her grieving sisters, the Meleagrids into guineafowl.

[edit] Chione

Artemis killed Chione for her pride and vanity.

[edit] Atalanta and Oeneus

Artemis saved the infant Atalanta from dying of exposure after her father abandoned her. She sent a female bear to suckle the baby, who was then raised by hunters.

Among other adventures, Atalanta participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar, which Artemis had sent to destroy Calydon because King Oeneus had forgotten her at the harvest sacrifices.

[edit] Trojan War

Since her brother Apollo was the patron god of the city of Troy and because Artemis was heavily supported in Asia Minor where the city was located, Artemis favored the Trojans during the ten-year war with the Greeks. Artemis came to blows with Hera, who angrily reprimanded her for advocating the Trojans. Hera then struck Artemis on the ears with her own quiver, causing the arrows to fall out. As Artemis fled crying to Zeus, Leto gathered up the bow and arrows which had fallen out of the quiver. Artemis got jealous. She got wounded and Troy lost the war.

[edit] Artemis in Neopaganism

Many Neopagans who worship Artemis today seem to omit many of the ancient myths. Those myths which are accepted by modern Neopagans seem to be interpreted rather abstractly, as mostly metaphor. Artemis is believed to be rather concerned with her follower's well being, but to reserve her boons to those who respect nature. Artemis, in this type of modern worship, is often seen as the goddess of wealth, magic, abundance, fertility, hunting, and longevity. While many who practice magic worship Hecate more favor Artemis for her supposed benevolence. Worship of Artemis may often include the burning of oils and incense, prayer, ritual nocturnal hunts, the burning of bread, and prostration. Artemis is thought to grant numerous boons and blessings on her followers, and is commonly worshipped by both men and women.

In contrast, modern practitioners of reconstructionist versions of Hellenic polytheism see Artemis in a much more traditional light, viewing her primarily as a Goddess of hunting, wild animals, nature, wildness, women, childbirth, and girls. They accept the validity and importance of all of the ancient myths, attempting to learn the lessons beneath the details. Modern Hellenic rituals tend to reflect the rituals of ancient Greece, modified for practicality and feasibility in the modern world. The three festivals of Artemis most often worshipped in the modern day are Elaphebolia, Mounikhia, and Kharisteria or Agrotera. Activities of worship include dedication of deer shaped cakes at Elaphebolia and amphiphontes (cakes 'shining all around') at Mounikhia, and activities such as archery contests and dances can happen at any time. Offering Artemis small model animals has also become popular.

[edit] Artemis in Astronomy

The minor planet (105) Artemis; a lunar crater; also Artemis Chasma and Artemis Corona, both on Venus, have all been named for her.

[edit] Artemis in Astrology

In the western zodiac, Artemis is the ruling Goddess of the Cancer sign due to her common affiliation with Earth's Moon.

[edit] Artemis in Popular Culture

Many references to Artemis in popular culture may be seen at Artemis (in Popular Culture).

[edit] Notes

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[edit] References

[edit] External links

Greek deities series
Primordial deities | Titans | Aquatic deities | Chthonic deities
Twelve Olympians
Zeus | Hera | Poseidon | Hades | Hestia | Demeter | Aphrodite
Athena | Apollo | Artemis | Ares | Hephaestus | Hermes | Dionysus
als:Artemis (Mythologie)

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