THE GODDESS ARTEMIS
Artemis, daughter of Zeus and Leto, and twin sister of Apollo, was goddess of chastity, hunting, wild animals, forests, childbirth, and fertility. Convincing her father to grant her wishes, Artemis desired to remain forever chaste and unmarried and always to be equipped for hunting. The goddess was also associated with the moon and was the patron of young women, particularly brides-to-be, who dedicated their toys to her as symbolic of the transition to full adulthood and the assumption of a wife’s responsibilities.
As a deity of fertility, the goddess was particularly revered at Ephesos, where the famous temple of Artemis (c. 550 BCE) was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Other notable places of worship were the sanctuaries at Brauron, Tauris, and on the island of Delos, where the goddess was born and where she assisted the birth of her brother Apollo, as Greek mythology tells us.
A notable episode involving the goddess is the saving of Iphigeneia, daughter of Agamemnon. The king had displeased the goddess by killing one of her sacred deer. As punishment, Artemis becalmed the Archaean fleet and only the sacrifice of Iphigeneia would appease the goddess into granting a fair wind to Troy. Agamemnon duly offered his daughter in sacrifice but in pity and at the last moment, the goddess substituted a deer for the girl and made Iphigeneia a priestess at her sanctuary at Tauris.
Artemis is most frequently portrayed in ancient Greek art as a maiden huntress with quiver and bow, often accompanied by a deer and on occasion wearing a feline skin. Early representations also emphasise her role as goddess of animals and show her winged with a bird or animal in each hand. For example, on the handles of the celebrated Francois vase, she holds a panther and stag in one depiction and lions in another. In later Attic red- and black-figure vases she is also often depicted holding a torch. A celebrated marble representation of the goddess is on the east frieze of the Parthenon where she is seated with Aphrodite and Eros (c. 440 BCE).
Cartwright, M. (2012, May 29). Artemis. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/artemis/