Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Artemis

Artemis by Kagaya
Artemis has always been one of my favorite goddesses of the Greek pantheon.  Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon is Diana.

Artemis was the patron goddess of wild animals, hunt, virginity and young girls. Interestingly, she was also the goddess of childbirth and women's healer. Her sacred animal is deer, and her sacred plant is the cypress tree. She has long been associated with the moon, and is often depicted with a half-moon on her forehead, even as she's depicted as a huntress with a bow. She's always surrounded by her faithful dogs.

The Versailles Artemis
Artemis was born, along with her twin brother Apollo, to the main god of the Green pantheon, Zeus, and to Leto. In one account of the birth, Artemis is born before Apollo and the assists her mother as a mid-wife to deliver her twin brother. Thus, she becomes the patroness of mid-wives and childbirth.

Diana by Boucher
 Artemis herself chooses to guard her virginity and surrounds herself with virgin companions. There are a number of accounts in which certain gods and men try to win Artemis over or, failing to do so, try to capture and rape her. In all of the accounts, the assailants are punished by her and are either killed or turned into other beings. Among these are the stories involving Actaeon, Adonis and Orion.

Artemis by Titian
 During the Trojan War, Artemis is said to have taken the side of the Trojans.

The worship of Artemis was strong across all of Greece, especially in Sparta and on the island of Delos, which is considered to be the place where she was born.

Artemis of Ephesus
 She was also worshiped in Ephesus, Turkey. Her ancient temple in that area became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, today almost nothing remains of the temple but it is still a place to visit on the tours of Ephesus. It is possible that as the Artemis of Ephesus, she had a lover and was a mother.

Artemis by Vasilis Zikos
Moon Goddess by Josephine Wall


  1. Great post. Very knowledgable. I would love to go to Greece on day. Makes me think of the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Love it!

    I know this is totally off subject but still on subject, but have you ever read the Artemis Fowl series? It's hilarious, but the Artemis in the book is actually a boy but was sort of named after the Artemis you described here. Great MG read.

    1. I went to Greece last summer during a Mediterranean Cruise. We went to Athens and it was amazing. This has been my dream for the longest time because I've always enjoyed Greek mythology and ancient history.
      I hope you get to go soon.
      I've never read Artemis Fowl but I heard about it. Have to ask if my niece has it and borrow it from her :)


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