Artemis – Goddess of the Hunt
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Artemis is one of the twelve main goddesses on Mount Olympus. She is largely known as being the goddess of the hunt and of wild creatures and is usually depicted as a woman in feminized hunting garb wielding a bow and holding one of her kills, usually a deer, which she considered sacred.
Aside from being in charge of hunting and wild animals, she is also depicted as the goddess of virginity and is considered a protector of young girls. In some versions of her story, she is also the goddess of childbirth.
Artemis’ Birth Story
There are several conflicting stories concerning Artemis’s birth. The one thing the stories have in common is that she has a twin brother named Apollo, who is also one of the Olympic gods, and that she was born on the island of Delos. All the stories also agree that their father was Zeus and their mother’s name was Leto.
In one version of the story, Zeus and Leto had an affair, which displeased Hera, Zeus’s wife. Hera forbade Leto from giving birth wherever there was sunlight, so Zeus turned her into a quail so she could safely give birth to Artemis and Apollo. After the birth, Zeus changed her back into a goddess.
Love Interests of Artemis
Artemis remained a virgin, but she did have several love interests. She was in love with her hunting partner, Orion. However, in one story Artemis accidentally killed him. In another story, Gaia killed him.
Though she never loved another, there were others who were interested in her. A river god named Alpheus was in love with Artemis. However, he realized he couldn’t be with her unless he did something drastic. In one story, he attempted to kidnap her so they could be together. To avoid capture, she covered her face with mud.
As the goddess of the forest, the hunt, and of wild animals, Artemis was worshipped throughout Ancient Greece. Since she was born on the island of Delos, she had a well-known temple there. She was also worshipped in Attica, Sparta, and near Piraeus.
When girls in Brauran, Attica turned a certain age (just before puberty), they were sent to the temple to serve Artemis for one year. They were called “she bears” because after Artemis learned of a killing of a tamed bear, she was enraged and ordered that these girls serve as atonement for the bear’s death.
How Artemis is Portrayed
Though the most common way Artemis is portrayed is as a huntress wielding a bow, there are other representations in artwork. In some versions, she is tall, slender, and portrayed as a young girl.
In other versions, she is portrayed as a winged goddess. One of the most famous art works featuring her is called Artemis and the Bronze Stag and was created in the Roman era. Even though she was a popular Olympic goddess in Ancient Greece, this artwork allows her legacy to be remembered even today.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by GreekBoston.com