Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, wilderness, the moon, virginity and childbirth. She was depicted as a tall, fit girl dressed in a knee length tunic and silver sandals. She usually had either brown or auburn hair and was equipped with a silver bow and quiver of silver arrows. Artemis was a young and free soul who did not think it right that women should be forced to marry and have children. She disliked men and sometimes killed any man who saw her bathing. She spent her time hunting in the forest with her nymphs, and disliked the city.
When Zeus wooed the goddess Leto, she became pregnant with twins. Hera became jealous and forbade Leto from giving birth on land or on any island. But Poseidon created the island Delos for her, and Leto fled there and gave birth to Artemis and her brother Apollo.
Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was the twin sister of Apollo. Some legends say that Artemis was born five minutes before Apollo, and she proceeded to help her mother give birth to Apollo. This and the fact that she caused no pain to Leto when she was born deemed her the protector of childbirth and the midwife of all women.
Artemis appears a few times in myths that revolve around constellations in the night sky. One myth says that Artemis was good friends with Orion, a giant and a fellow hunter. She came close to marrying him, but Apollo would not allow it. Artemis would not listen to Apollo, so when he saw Orion swimming off in the distance, he wagered Artemis that she could not shoot the object floating in the sea. Artemis, not wanting her reputation to be shamed, shot Orion and killed him. When his body washed up on the shore, Artemis was grief stricken. She sent him to the heavens and he became the constellation Orion.
Another constellation myth associated with Artemis is the Great Bear. One of Artemis’ nymphs, Callisto, allowed Zeus to seduce her, and she later gave birth to Arcas, the ancestor of the Arcadians. Some stories say that because Callisto had forsaken her pledge of chastity, Artemis showed her no mercy and changed her into a bear. Callisto was then sent to the heavens as well and became the Great Bear constellation.
Artemis was said to have been very possessive and protective of her animals. One story says that the hero Agamemnon killed a stag in Artemis’ sacred grove, and so she punished him by taking away the winds while he was on his way to besiege Troy over sea. One of Agamemnon’s seers told him that the only way Artemis would restore the wind was to sacrifice his daughter. Most versions say that he did, but that Artemis switched his daughter with a deer at the last second and sent her to the halls of the immortal.
Artemis also took revenge on a mortal woman named Niobe. Niobe had boasted that because she had bore more children than Leto, she was superior. Apollo heard this and told Artemis. Outraged that someone had insulted their mother, Apollo and Artemis killed all of Niobe’s children; Apollo killed the boys, and Artemis killed the girls.
Artemis’ quick mind was another subject of other myths. It is said that when the Aloadai giants attempted to destroy Olympus, Artemis tricked them into killing each other by running in between them in the form of a deer. They both tried to kill her with their spears, but they missed and killed each other instead.
Artemis could shoot a bow with perfect aim, being the goddess of the hunt. She was clever, strong, athletic, and she could turn herself and others into animals if she so desired. Artemis and her brother Apollo possessed healing abilities, but they could also just as easily force disease or death on any mortal (Apollo for guys, Artemis for girls). Artemis also had the ability to appear any age she wanted while maintaining eternal life and youth.
- symbols for Artemis include a bow, a deer, and a crescent moon
- Artemis shares the title of moon goddess with Selene
- Artemis was one of the twelve Olympian gods to live on the summit Mount Olympus
- she was thought to be enemies with Aphrodite and Hera
- the Temple of Artemis, the ruins of which are located in Turkey, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
"ARTEMIS : Summary of the Olympian Goddess." Theoi.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2013. http://www.theoi.com/Summary/Artemis.html
"ARTEMIS : Greek Goddess of Hunting & the Wilderness." Theoi.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2013. http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Artemis.html
Leadbetter, Ron. "Artemis." Pantheon.org. MMIX Encyclopedia Mythica, n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 1997. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/artemis.html