Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the forest, the hills and the moon. She is most often represented with a quiver and bow, (she had an unerring shot), often with her chariot that was drawn by six stags and with her hunting dogs.
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Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo, she was a virgin her whole life and worshipped throughout Ancient Greece. She was a vengeful character, while she had her favourites, she was by all accounts a proud and vain goddess who exacted revenge on those who claimed they were better or more beautiful than she.
Artemis was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. She wears a knee-length tunic that would allow her to hunt in long grass.
As a child Artemis asked daddy Zeus to grant her six wishes – to remain a virgin forever; to have many names to set her apart from her brother Apollo; to be the Phaesporia or Light Bringer; to have a bow and arrow and a knee-length tunic so that she could hunt; to have sixty “daughters of Okeanos”, all nine years of age, to be her choir; and for twenty Amnisides Nymphs as handmaidens to watch her dogs and bow while she rested. She wished for no city dedicated to her, but to rule the mountains and the forests, and for the ability to help women in the pains of childbirth. Zeus was such a softie that he gave her what she asked.
Artemis was worshipped throughout ancient Greece with many scholars tracing the her cult directly back to the ancient worship of the bear. The bear features in much of her mythology but most prominently when that randy old goat Zeus, disguising himself as Artemis, took advantage and impregnated one of her 80 virgin nymphs, Callisto. Artemis was angry with the nymph for not keeping her purity and changed her into a bear, but Zeus, probably feeling guilty for getting her in this pickle intervened and sent her into the heavens making her a constellation – Ursa Major or Great Bear.
Artemis was Apollo’s twin sister, born of Zeus and Leto. Zeus’ wife was so pissed of with him for getting Leto knocked up that she forbade her to give birth on terra firma or on an island. Leto found a floating island Delos worked for Leto and she went there to give birth. Artemis came out first and she immediately helped with the birth of her twin brother, even though she was only minutes old. That made her the god of midwifery.
She killed Adonis
Artemis killed the god of love and desire, Adonis by sending a wild boar to gore him because he boasted he was a better hunter than she. Other accounts have that Artemis killed him in retaliation for Aphrodite instigating the death of Hippolytus, a favourite of the huntress goddess.
Like a Virgin
Although many pursued her and many even tried to force themselves on her, Artemis remained a virgin her whole life. That only made the randy Greek gods want her even more. The only one to win her heat was her hunting companion Orion. But while on a hunt with Artemis and her mother Leto on the island of Crete he claimed that he would kill all the beasts of the earth. Gaia, mother earth, didn’t like that much so she sent a giant scorpion to kill him. After his death, Zeus put him up in the sky where he is still one of the most prominent constellations.
Acteon was Artemis’ hunting partner, one day while out hunting in the forest, he saw he bathing naked in a sacred spring. Acteon liked what he saw and tried to force himself on her. Artemis was enraged and changed him into a stag. The stag was then devoured by Acteon’s own hunting dogs.
The Lady of Ephesus
The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, Iona, Turkey was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Inside a cult image of her known as ‘The Lady of Ephesus’ where she was depicted with multiple breasts. Of the 121 stone columns that once held up the magnificent structure, only one remains.
The Trojan War
Artemis played quite a large part in the Trojan War, as he twin brother was the patron of the city and she was also worshipped there. In the Iliad, Artemis comes to blows with Hera, Zeus’ wife, 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.
Chione was a princess of Pokis and was so beautiful that two gods (Apollo and Hermes) had fallen in love with her. However she wasn’t especially humble, and when she boasted that she was more beautiful than Artemis because two gods had fallen for her, the hunter goddess was enraged. Artemis struck her dumb by shooting an arrow into Chione’s tongue.
Aura was the goddess of breezes and cool air, who was also a huntress and a virgin. She was quite proud of her maidenhood but made the mistake of saying that Artemis’ body was too womanly and questioned her virginity. Not one to let a slight against her person go, Artemis engaged Nemesis, the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumbed to hubris against the gods, to conspire to have Aura raped by Dionysus. Aura became a mad and dangerous killer and when she bore twin sons she ate one of them while the other was saved by Artemis.
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