Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, the Moon, and chastity.
Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the patron and protector of young girls, and was believed to bring disease upon women and relieve them of it. Artemis was worshipped as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth and midwifery along with Eileithyia. Much like Athena and Hestia, Artemis preferred to remain a maiden and is sworn never to marry.
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities and her temple at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Artemis' symbols included a bow and arrow, a quiver and hunting knives and the deer and the cypress were sacred to her. The goddess Diana is her Roman equivalent, especially worshipped on the Aventine Hill in Rome, near Lake Nemi in the Alban Hills, and in Campania.
EtymologyThe name Artemis is of unknown or uncertain etymology, although various sources have been proposed. R. S. P. Beekes suggested that the e/i interchange points to a Pre-Greek origin. Artemis was venerated in Lydia as Artimus. Georgios Babiniotis, while accepting that the etymology is unknown, also states that the name is already attested in Mycenean Greek and is possibly of Pre-Greek origin.
The name may be possibly related to Greek árktos "bear", supported by the bear cult the goddess had in Attica and the Neolithic remains at the Arkoudiotissa Cave, as well as the story of Callisto, which was originally about Artemis ; this cult was a survival of very old totemic and shamanistic rituals and formed part of a larger bear cult found further afield in other Indo-European cultures. It is believed that a precursor of Artemis was worshipped in Minoan Crete as the goddess of mountains and hunting, Britomartis. While connection with Anatolian names has been suggested, the earliest attested forms of the name Artemis are the Mycenaean Greek ????, a-te-mi-to /Artemitos/ and ????, a-ti-mi-te /Artimitei/, written in Linear B at Pylos.
According to J. T. Jablonski, the name is also Phrygian and could be "compared with the royal appellation Artemas of Xenophon. Charles Anthon argued that the primitive root of the name is probably of Persian origin from *arta, *art, *arte, all meaning "great, excellent, holy", thus Artemis "becomes identical with the great mother of Nature, even as she was worshipped at Ephesus". Anton Goebel "suggests the root στρατ or ῥατ, "to shake", and makes Artemis mean the thrower of the dart or the shooter".
Ancient Greek writers, by way of folk etymology, and some modern scholars, have linked Artemis to ἄρταμος, artamos, i.e. "butcher" or, like Plato did in Cratylus, to ἀρτεμής, artemḗs, i.e. "safe", "unharmed", "uninjured", "pure", "the stainless maiden".
BirthVarious conflicting accounts are given in Classical Greek mythology regarding the birth of Artemis and Apollo, her twin brother. However, in terms of parentage, all accounts agree that she was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and that she was the twin sister of Apollo. In some sources she is born at the same time as Apollo, in others, earlier or later.
An account by Callimachus has it that Hera forbade Leto to give birth on either terra firma or on an island. Hera was angry with her husband Zeus because he had impregnated Leto but the island of Delos disobeyed Hera and Leto gave birth there.
According to the Homeric Hymn to Artemis the island where Leto gave birth was Ortygia.
In ancient Cretan history Leto was worshipped at Phaistos and, in Cretan mythology, Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on the islands known today as Paximadia.
A scholium of Servius on Aeneid iii. 72 accounts for the island's archaic name Ortygia by asserting that Zeus transformed Leto into a quail in order to prevent Hera from finding out about his infidelity, and Kenneth McLeish suggested further that in quail form Leto would have given birth with as few birth-pains as a mother quail suffers when it lays an egg.
The myths also differ as to whether Artemis was born first, or Apollo. Most stories depict Artemis as born first, becoming her mother's midwife upon the birth of her brother Apollo.
ChildhoodThe childhood of Artemis is not fully related in any surviving myth. The Iliad reduced the figure of the dread goddess to that of a girl, who, having been thrashed by Hera, climbs weeping into the lap of Zeus.
A poem by Callimachus to the goddess "who amuses herself on mountains with archery" imagines some charming vignettes. Artemis, while sitting on the knee of her father, Zeus, asked him to grant her ten wishes:
- to always remain a virgin
- to have many names to set her apart from her brother Phoebus
- to have a bow and arrow made by the Cyclopes
- to be the Phaesporia or Light Bringer
- to have a knee-length tunic so that she could hunt
- to have sixty "daughters of Okeanos", all nine years of age, to be her choir
- to have twenty Amnisides Nymphs as handmaidens to watch her dogs and bow while she rested
- to rule all the mountains
- any city
- to have the ability to help women in the pains of childbirth.
Oceanus' daughters were filled with fear, but the young Artemis bravely approached and asked for bow and arrows. Callimachus then tells how Artemis visited Pan, the god of the forest, who gave her seven female and six male dogs. She then captured six golden-horned deer to pull her chariot. Artemis practiced with her bow first by shooting at trees and then at wild beasts.
IntimacyAs a virgin, Artemis had interested many gods and men, but only her hunting companion, Orion, won her heart. Orion was accidentally killed either by Artemis or by Gaia.
The river god Alpheus was in love with Artemis, but as he realizes that he can do nothing to win her heart, he decides to capture her. Artemis, who is with her companions at Letrenoi, goes to Alpheus, but, suspicious of his motives, she covers her face with mud so that the river god does not recognize her. In another story, Alphaeus tries to rape Artemis' attendant Arethusa. Artemis pities Arethusa and saves her by transforming Arethusa into a spring in Artemis' temple, Artemis Alphaea in Letrini, where the goddess and her attendant drink.
Bouphagos, the son of the Titan Iapetus, sees Artemis and thinks about raping her. Reading his sinful thoughts, Artemis strikes him at Mount Pholoe.
Siproites is a boy, who, either because he accidentally sees Artemis bathing or because he attempts to rape her, is turned into a girl by the goddess.
According to the standard modern text on the work, Lamar Ronald Lacey's The Myth of Aktaion: Literary and Iconographic Studies, the most likely original version of the myth is that Actaeon was the hunting companion of the goddess who, seeing her naked in her sacred spring, attempts to force himself on her. For this hubris, he is turned into a stag and devoured by his own hounds. However, in some surviving versions, Actaeon is a stranger who happens upon her. According to the Latin version of the story told by the Roman Ovid having accidentally seen Artemis on Mount Cithaeron while she was bathing, he was changed by her into a stag, and pursued and killed by his fifty hounds. Different tellings also diverge in the hunter's transgression, which is sometimes merely seeing the virgin goddess naked, sometimes boasting he is a better hunter than she, or even merely being a rival of Zeus for the affections of Semele.wild boar to kill Adonis as punishment for his hubristic boast that he was a better hunter than her.
In other versions, Artemis killed Adonis for revenge. In later myths, Adonis had been related as a favorite of Aphrodite, and Aphrodite was responsible for the death of Hippolytus, who had been a favorite of Artemis. Therefore, Artemis killed Adonis to avenge Hippolytus's death.
In yet another version, Adonis was not killed by Artemis, but by Ares, as punishment for being with Aphrodite.
Orionwas Artemis' hunting companion. In some versions, he is killed by Artemis, while in others he is killed by a scorpion sent by Gaia. In some versions, Orion tries to seduce Opis, one of Artemis' followers, and she kills him. In a version by Aratus, Orion takes hold of Artemis' robe and she kills him in self-defense.
In yet another version, Apollo sends the scorpion. According to Hyginus Artemis once loved Orion, but was tricked into killing him by her brother Apollo, who was "protective" of his sister's maidenhood.
The AloadaeThe twin sons of Poseidon and Iphidemia, Otos and Ephialtes, grew enormously at a young age. They were aggressive, great hunters, and could not be killed unless they killed each other. The growth of the Aloadae never stopped, and they boasted that as soon as they could reach heaven, they would kidnap Artemis and Hera and take them as wives. The gods were afraid of them, except for Artemis who captured a fine deer and jumped out between them. The Aloadae threw their spears and so mistakenly killed each other. In another version, Apollo sent the deer into the Aloadae's midst, causing their accidental killing of each other.
Callistowas the daughter of Lycaon, King of Arcadia and also was one of Artemis's hunting attendants. As a companion of Artemis, she took a vow of chastity. Zeus appeared to her disguised as Artemis, or in some stories Apollo gained her confidence and took advantage of her or, according to Ovid, raped her. As a result of this encounter, she conceived a son, Arcas.
Enraged, Hera or Artemis changed her into a bear. Arcas almost killed the bear, but Zeus stopped him just in time. Out of pity, Zeus placed Callisto the bear into the heavens, thus the origin of Callisto the Bear as a constellation. Some stories say that he placed both Arcas and Callisto into the heavens as bears, forming the Ursa Minor and Ursa Major constellations.
Iphigenia and the Taurian ArtemisArtemis punished Agamemnon after he killed a sacred stag in a sacred grove and boasted that he was a better hunter than the goddess. When the Greek fleet was preparing at Aulis to depart for Troy to begin the Trojan War, Artemis becalmed the winds. The seer Calchas advised Agamemnon that the only way to appease Artemis was to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia. Artemis then snatched Iphigenia from the altar and substituted a deer. Various myths have been told about what happened after Artemis took her. Either she was brought to Tauros and led the priests there or became Artemis' immortal companion.Queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because while she had fourteen children, seven boys and seven girls, Leto had only one of each. When Artemis and Apollo heard this impiety, Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, 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 two of the Niobids were spared, one boy and one girl. Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, killed himself. A devastated Niobe and her remaining children were turned to stone by Artemis as they wept. The gods themselves entombed them.
ChioneChione was a princess of Pokis. She was beloved by two gods, Hermes and Apollo, and boasted that she was prettier than Artemis because she made two gods fall in love with her at once. Artemis was furious and killed Chione with her arrow or struck her dumb by shooting off her tongue. However, some versions of this myth say Apollo and Hermes protected her from Artemis' wrath.
Atalanta, Oeneus and the MeleagridsArtemis 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. In some stories, Artemis later sent a bear to hurt Atalanta because others claimed Atalanta was a superior hunter.
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. In the hunt, Atalanta drew the first blood and was awarded the prize of the skin. She hung it in a sacred grove at Tegea as a dedication to Artemis.
Meleager was a hero of Aetolia. King Oeneus had him gather heroes from all over Greece to hunt the Calydonian Boar. After the death of Meleager, Artemis turned his grieving sisters, the Meleagrids into guineafowl that Artemis loved very much.Nonnus Dionysiaca, Aura was the daughter of Lelantos and Periboia. She was a virgin huntress, just like Artemis and proud of her maidenhood. One day, she claimed that the body of Artemis was too womanly and she doubted her virginity. Artemis asked Nemesis for help to avenge her dignity and caused the rape of Aura by Dionysus. Aura became a mad and dangerous killer. When she bore twin sons, she ate one of them while the other one, Iacchus, was saved by Artemis. Iacchus later became an attendant of Demeter and the leader of Eleusinian Mysteries.
Polyphontewas a young woman who fled home preferring the idea of a virginal life with Artemis to the conventional life of marriage and children favoured by Aphrodite. As a punishment Aphrodite cursed her, causing her to have children by a bear. The resulting offspring, Agrius and Oreius, were wild cannibals who incurred the hatred of Zeus. Ultimately the entire family were transformed into birds and more specifically ill portents for mankind.Anatolia in historical times. In the Iliad she came to blows with Hera, when the divine allies of the Greeks and Trojans engaged each other in conflict. Hera 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.
Artemis played quite a large part in this war. Like her mother and brother, who was widely worshipped at Troy, Artemis took the side of the Trojans. At the Greek's journey to Troy, Artemis becalmed the sea and stopped the journey until an oracle came and said they could win the goddess' heart by sacrificing Iphigenia, Agamemnon's daughter. Agamemnon once promised the goddess he would sacrifice the dearest thing to him, which was Iphigenia, but broke that promise. Other sources said he boasted about his hunting ability and provoked the goddess' anger. Artemis saved Iphigenia because of her bravery. In some versions of the myth, Artemis made Iphigenia her attendant or turned her into Hecate, goddess of night, witchcraft, and the underworld.
Aeneas was helped by Artemis, Leto, and Apollo. Apollo found him wounded by Diomedes and lifted him to heaven. There, the three of them secretly healed him in a great chamber.
WorshipArtemis, the goddess of forests and hills, was worshipped throughout ancient Greece. Her best known cults were on the island of Delos
, in Attica at Brauron and Mounikhia, and in Sparta. She was often depicted in paintings and statues in a forest setting, carrying a bow and arrows and accompanied by a deer.
The ancient Spartans used to sacrifice to her as one of their patron goddesses before starting a new military campaign.
Athenian festivals in honor of Artemis included Elaphebolia, Mounikhia, Kharisteria, and Brauronia. The festival of Artemis Orthia was observed in Sparta.
Pre-pubescent and adolescent Athenian girls 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 states that a bear had formed the habit of regularly visiting the town of Brauron, and the people there fed it, so that, over time, the bear became tame. A girl teased the bear, and, in some versions of the myth, it killed her, while, in other versions, it clawed out her eyes. 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.
Artemis was worshipped as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth and midwifery along with Eileithyia. Dedications of clothing to her sanctuaries after a successful birth was common in the Classical era. Artemis could be a deity to be feared by pregnant women, as deaths during this time were contributed to her. As childbirth and pregnancy was a very common and important event, there were numerous other deities associated with it, many localized to a particular geographic area, including but not limited to Aphrodite, Hera and Hekate. According to Pseudo-Apollodorus, she assisted her mother in the delivery of her twin. Older sources, such as Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo, have the arrival of Eileithyia on Delos as the event that allows Leto to give birth to her children. Contradictory is Hesiod's presentation of the myth in Theogony, where he states that Leto bore her children before Zeus’ marriage to Hera with no commentary on any drama related to their birth.
During the Classical period in Athens, she was identified with Hekate. Artemis also assimilated Caryatis.
Epithets, reconstructed using analysis of trace pigments - imitation of Greek statues of the sixth century BC
As Aeginaea, she was worshipped in Sparta; the name means either huntress of chamois, or the wielder of the javelin.
Also in Sparta, Artemis Lygodesma was worshipped. This epithet means "willow-bound" from the Gr. lygos and desmos. The willow tree appears in several ancient Greek myths and rituals.
In Athens she was worshipped under the epithet Aristo.
Also in Athens, she was worshipped as Aristoboule, "the best adviser".
As Artemis Isora also known as Isoria or Issoria, in the temple at the Issorium near lounge of the Crotani near Pitane, Sparta. Pausanias mentions that although the locals refer to her as Artemis Isora, he says "They surname her also Lady of the Lake, though she is not really Artemis hut Britomartis of Crete"
She was worshipped at Naupactus as Aetole; in her temple in that town there was a statue of white marble representing her throwing a javelin. This "Aetolian Artemis" would not have been introduced at Naupactus, anciently a place of Ozolian Locris, until it was awarded to the Aetolians by Philip II of Macedon. Strabo records another precinct of "Aetolian Artemos" at the head of the Adriatic. As Agoraea she was the protector of the agora.
As Artemis Orthia and was common to the four villages originally constituting Sparta: Limnai, in which it is situated, Pitana, Kynosoura and Mesoa.
As Agrotera, she was especially associated as the patron goddess of hunters. In Athens 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 originally held at Amarynthus in Euboea.
She was sometimes identified by the name Phoebe, the feminine form of her brother Apollo's solar epithet Phoebus.
Alphaea, Alpheaea, or Alpheiusa was an epithet that Artemis derived from the river god Alpheius, who was said to have been in love with her. It was under this name that she was worshipped at Letrini in Elis, and in Ortygia. Artemis Alphaea was associated with the wearing of masks, largely because of the legend that while fleeing the advances of Alpheius, she and her nymphs escaped him by covering their faces.
As Artemis Anaitis, the 'Persian Artemis' was identified with Anahita. As Apanchomene, she was worshipped as a hanged goddess.
She was also worshiped as Artemis Tauropolos, variously interpreted as "worshipped at Tauris", "pulled by a yoke of bulls", or "hunting bull goddess". A statue of Artemis "Tauropolos" in her temple at Brauron in Attica was supposed to have been brought from the Taurians by Iphigenia. Tauropolia was also a festival of Artemis in Athens. There was a Tauropolion, a temple in a temenos sacred to Artemis Tauropolos, in the north Aegean island of Doliche. There is a Temple to 'Artemis Tauropolos' located on the eastern shore of Attica, in the modern town of Artemida. An aspect of the Taurian Artemis was also worshipped as Aricina.
Pausanias at the Description of Greece writes that near Pyrrhichus there was a sanctuary of Artemis, called Astrateias, with image of the goddess said to have been dedicated by the Amazons.
FestivalsArtemis was born on the sixth day, which made it sacred for her.
- Festival of Artemis in Brauron, where girls, aged between five and ten, dressed in saffron robes and played at being bears, or "act the bear" to appease the goddess after she sent the plague when her bear was killed.
- Festival of Amarysia is a celebration to worship Artemis Amarysia in Attica. In 2007, a team of Swiss and Greek archaeologists found the ruin of Artemis Amarysia Temple, at Euboea, Greece.
- Festival of Artemis Saronia, a festival to celebrate Artemis in Trozeinos, a town in Argolis. A king named Saron built a sanctuary for the goddess after the goddess saved his life when he went hunting and was swept away by a wave. He held a festival in her honor.
- On the 16th day of Metageitnio, people sacrificed to Artemis and Hecate at Deme in Erchia.
- Kharisteria Festival on 6th day of Boidromion celebrates the victory of the Battle of Marathon, also known as the Athenian "Thanksgiving".
- Day six of Elaphobolia festival of Artemis the Deer Huntress where she was offered cakes shaped like stags, made from dough, honey and sesame seeds.
- Day 6 or 16 of Mounikhion is a celebration of her as the goddess of nature and animals. A goat was sacrificed to her.
- Day 6 of Thargelion, is the Goddess's birthday, while the seventh was Apollo's.
- A festival for Artemis Diktynna was held in Hypsous.
- Laphria, a festival for Artemis in Patrai. The procession starts by setting logs of wood around the altar, each of them 16 cubits long. On the altar, within the circle, the driest wood is placed. Just before the festival, a smooth ascent to the altar is built by piling earth upon the altar steps. The festival begins with a splendid procession in honor of Artemis, and the maiden officiating as priestess rides last in the procession upon a chariot yoked to four deer, Artemis' traditional mode of transport. However, the sacrifice is not offered until the next day.
- In Orchomenus, a sanctuary was built for Artemis Hymnia where her festival was celebrated every year.
VirginityAn important aspect of Artemis' persona and worship was her virginity, which may seem contradictory given her role as a goddess associated with childbirth. It is likely that the idea of Artemis as a virgin goddess is related to her primary role as a huntress. Hunters traditionally abstained from sex prior to the hunt as a form of ritual purity and out of a belief that the scent would scare off potential prey. The ancient cultural context in which Artemis' worship emerged also held that virginity was a prerequisite to marriage, and that a married woman became subservient to her husband. In this light, Artemis' virginity is also related to her power and independence. Rather than a form of asexuality, it is an attribute that signals Artemis as her own master, with power equal to that of male gods. It is also possible that her virginity represents a concentration of fertility that can be spread among her followers, in the manner of earlier mother goddess figures. However, some later Greek writers did come to treat Artemis as inherently asexual and as an opposite to Aphrodite.
As a mother goddessDespite her virginity, both modern scholars and ancient commentaries have linked Artemis to the archetype of the mother goddess. Artemis was traditionally linked to fertility and was petitioned to assist women with childbirth. According to Herodotus, the Greek playwright Aeschylus identified Artemis with Persephone as a daughter of Demeter. Her worshipers in Arcadia also traditionally associated her with Demeter and Persephone. In Asia Minor, she was often conflated with local mother goddess figures, such as Cybele, and Anahita in Iran. However, the archetype of the mother goddess was not highly compatible with the Greek pantheon, and though the Greeks had adopted worship of Cybele and other Anatolian mother goddesses as early as the 7th century BCE, she was not directly conflated with any Greek goddesses; instead, bits and pieces of her worship and aspects were absorbed variously by Artemis, Aphrodite, and others as Eastern influence spread.
As the Lady of EphesusAt Ephesus in Ionia, Turkey, her temple became one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was probably the best known center of her worship except for Delos. There the Lady whom the Ionians associated with Artemis through interpretatio graeca was worshipped primarily as a mother goddess, akin to the Phrygian goddess Cybele, in an ancient sanctuary where her cult image depicted the "Lady of Ephesus" adorned with multiple large beads. Excavation at the site of the Artemision in 1987–88 identified a multitude of tear-shaped amber beads that had been hung on the original wooden statue, and these were probably carried over into later sculpted copies. In Acts of the Apostles, Ephesian metalsmiths who felt threatened by Saint Paul's preaching of Christianity, jealously rioted in her defense, shouting "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" Of the 121 columns of her temple, only one composite, made up of fragments, still stands as a marker of the temple's location.
- Bow and arrow
, Ionia, representing the goddess Artemis
king Artemidoros, c. 85 BC, featuring Artemis with a drawn bow and a quiver on her back on the reverse of the coin
According to the Homeric Hymn to Artemis, she had golden bow and arrows, as her epithet was Khryselakatos and Iokheira. The arrows of Artemis could also bring sudden death and disease to girls and women. Artemis got her bow and arrow for the first time from The Kyklopes, as the one she asked from her father. The bow of Artemis also became the witness of Callisto's oath of her virginity. In later cult, the bow became the symbol of waxing moon.
- Spears, nets, and lyre
- Hunting dog
- Guinea fowl
- Buzzard hawk
- Palm and Cypress were issued to be her birthplace. Other plants sacred to Artemis are Amaranth and Asphodel.
In Greek classical art she is usually portrayed as a maiden huntress, young, tall and slim, clothed in a girl's short skirt, with hunting boots, a quiver, a bow and arrows. Often, she is shown in the shooting pose, and is accompanied by a hunting dog or stag. When portrayed as a moon goddess, Artemis wore a long robe and sometimes a veil covered her head. 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, such as the daughters of Niobe.
Artemis was sometimes represented in Classical art with the crown of the crescent moon, such as also found on Luna and others.
On June 7, 2007, a Roman era bronze sculpture of Artemis and the Stag was sold at Sotheby's auction house in New York state by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery for $25.5 million.
In astronomy, the Artemis, the Artemis Chasma, the Artemis Corona, and the Artemis lunar program have all been named after the goddess.
Artemis is the acronym for "Architectures de bolometres pour des Telescopes a grand champ de vue dans le domaine sub-Millimetrique au Sol", a large bolometer camera in the submillimeter range that was installed in 2010 at the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.