Artemis at a Glance
name | Artemis
role | goddess of the hunt and protector of children
symbols | bow, deer
Artemis in Greek Mythology
The goddess Artemis played an intriguing role in Greek mythology and religion. She was known as the "Mistress of Animals" and the protectress of children, but she was also a huntress and the goddess who could bring death with her arrows. Myths such as the one about Niobe
show Artemis as a strong willed and powerful goddess, a female who could punish injustices against the gods with ferocious and deadly accuracy.
Artemis was the daughter of Leto and Zeus (the ruler of the Greek gods). Together with her twin brother Apollo she enjoyed the status and privileges of an Olympian. And as an Olympian goddess, Artemis was free to pursue her interests, and was often found frolicking in the forests, accompanied by a band of nymphs.
Myths of the Maiden Goddess
Myths and legends show that the goddess Artemis was aloof and free-spirited, and not constrained by husband or hearth. Her independent nature is further reinforced in a very important way, for in mythology and religion, the goddess remained eternally a virgin. Indeed, those who in some way compromised her strict requirements for chastity were severely punished by the maiden goddess.
There are several tales that describe the swift and terrible retribution of Artemis. One of the most revealing of these stories involves the youth Actaeon. In addition, Artemis was also responsible for punishing the nymph Callisto. In myth, Callisto was at one point a follower of the virgin goddess, but when she became involved in an affair with the god Zeus, Artemis had her revenge on the unfortunate nymph.
The Moon Goddess
In myth, Artemis is sometimes identified with Selene
, the Greek goddess of the moon. Indeed, this association between Artemis and the moon is revealed in one of the epithets used to describe the goddess - Phoebe
("the bright one").
The goddess Artemis was known as Diana in Roman mythology.
Artemis in Art History
| For pictures and information about Artemis in art, visit the Mythography gallery!
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Sing, O Muse, of Artemis, sister of the Far darter, arrow pouring virgin, who was nurtured with Apollo.
- Homeric Hymn to Artemis
Who's Who in Classical Mythology
This book is a great source for information about Greek and Roman mythology! Organized alphabetically, this who's who features information about over 1200 of the most intriguing characters from Classical myth and legend. And there is a good entry on Artemis.