Olympian Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon
Artemis was the Olympian goddess of the hunt, the moon, wildlife and childbirth.
Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and the moon. She was also goddess of wildlife and patron of hunters. She was associated with chastity – being a virgin herself – but also with childbirth and the protection of children and newly born animals. She protected women who had just given birth, but was also the one responsible for a woman’s death during or after childbirth. When women died a sudden and painless death, they were believed to have been slain by the goddess’s arrows.
Physical Features, Symbols and Character
Artemis is depicted as a beautiful young woman carrying a quiver, a bow and arrow and often accompanied by a stag or hunting dog. Her main attribute is the crescent or full moon.
Artemis is an excellent hunter and spends her days hunting in the forests, mountains and dells, accompanied by wood Nymphs.
Like Athena and Hestia, Artemis is immune to love.
Both Artemis are Apollo were quick to punish those who were impious or who challenged their superiority, or to defend their mother’s honour.
Leto got pregnant from Zeus and began a long search of a place to give birth in. Wherever she turned, they turned her down for fear of Hera’s wrath. Finally she came to Delos (a small, barren island off Mykonos), who agreed to let her give birth there. On some accounts Apollo was born first, while on others Artemis was born a day earlier and helped Apollo’s childbirth.
|Artemis at a Glance|
|Rules over - In charge of||the Hunt, Forests, Dells and Hills, Newly born animals, the Moon, Archery, Childbirth|
|Symbols||Bow, Arrows, Stag, Hunting dog, the Moon|
|Sacred Animals||Deer, Bear|
|Parents||Zeus and Leto|
|Notable Siblings||Apollo, Ares, Athena, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hebe, Hermes, Helen of Troy, Hephaestus, the Muses|
In the Trojan War Artemis, like her brother Apollo, sided with the Trojans. During the war, the opposing gods also clashed, and Hera unarmed Artemis and struck her with her own quiver, demonstrating her power as a ruling goddess.
Artemis and Iphigenia
Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, killed a stag while – unknowingly – being in one of the goddess’s sacred groves. He also boasted that his aim at the shot was better than Artemis’s. The goddess took offence and ceased all winds, keeping the Greeks from setting sail for Troy. In order to appease the goddess, Agamemnon’s most beautiful daughter, Iphigenia, was to be sacrificed. At the very last minute Artemis saved her by making her vanquish and substituting a deer in her place. The goddess transferred Iphigenia to the land of the Taurians (modern Crimea), where she became a priestess at Artemis’s temple.
Artemis and Niobe
Niobe, wife of king Amphion of Thebes, boasted that she had more children than Leto and that her children were more beautiful. Apollo and Artemis avenged their mother by killing Niobe’s children with their arrows; Apollo shot the male children and Artemis the female ones.
The origins of the name “Artemis” are unclear and might not be Greek, as the goddess possibly originated from Asia Minor. Artemis was also called “Cynthia”, from her birthplace, Mount Cynthus on Delos. Also, similar to her brother, Apollo, Artemis was called “Phoebe” (Φοῖβη), meaning “bright”, the name of her grandmother.
Hippolytus and Iphigenia in Tauris. Homeric Hymn to Artemis, Apollodorus’s Library, Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Hyginus’s Fabulae, Ovid’s Metamorphoses.