Greek goddess Artemis

Roman goddess Diana

Artemis and her younger twin brother Apollo were the children of Zeus and Leto, born in Delos. She is the lady of the forest and all the wild things, as well as the Huntsman- in-chief to the gods, an odd office for a woman. Like Apollo she hunts with silver arrows. She is one of the three virgin goddesses along with Athena and Hestia. Surprisingly, she also presides over childbirth, this goes back to the fact that she did not cause her mother any pain when she was born. As always in Greek Mythology, she also had her dark side, showing her as fierce and vengeful warrior. For example, although she is the protector of the young, she kept the Greek Fleet from sailing to Troy, until Iphigenia, a royal maiden, daughter of the Commander in Chief Agamemnon was sacrificed to her. All because the Greek soldiers killed one of the creatures, a hare, together with her young. On the other hand, when women died a quick and painless death, they were said to have been slain by Artemis' silver arrows.

Artemis was vindictive and there were many who suffered from her anger. One of her actions was to join Apollo in killing the children on Niobe. Artemis took part in the battle against the Giants, where she killed Gration. She also destroyed the Aloadae and is said to have killed the monster Bouphagus. Other victims of Artemis included Orion and Actaeon, as well as Meleager, who was fated to die as the result of the Calydonian Boar hunt instigated by Artemis.

Artemis was also associated with the moon, and called Phoebe and Selene (Luna in Latin), neither name originally belonged to her. Phoebe was a titan, one of the elder gods. So was Selene, a moon- goddess and sister of Helios, the sun-god often confused with Artemis' brother, Apollo. In the later poems Artemis became associated with another goddess, Hecate, the dark and awful goddess of the lower world. Hecate was the Goddess of the Dark of the Moon, the black nights when the moon is hidden. She was associated with deeds of darkness, the Goddess of the Crossways, which were held to be ghostly places of evil magic; and awful divinity. Thus she became "the goddess with three forms," Selene in the sky, Artemis on earth and Hecate in the lower world as well as in the world above, when it is wrapped in darkness. In Artemis is shown most vividly the uncertainty between good and evil which exists in every god. Ironically, this contrast is least apparent in her brother, the God of Light, Apollo.

Artemis was held in honor in al the wild and mountainous areas of Greece, in Arcadia and in the country of Sparta, in Laconia on Mount Taygetus and in Elis. Her most famous shrine was at Ephesus. Artemis absorbed some cults that involved human sacrifice, such as that practiced in Tauris. She was also the protecting deity of the Amazons who, like her, were warriors and huntresses and independent of men.

The cypress is her tree. All wild animals are scared to her, but especially the deer. She is almost always depicted with her bow and a fawn; and very often, also with Apollo.

Her biggest temple was build in Ephesus which became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the nearby museum of Selcuk you can sea two beautiful marble statues of Artemis Polimastros (with many breasts), as she was called in the Ionian region of Asia Minor.