Artemis Roman Diana  

Posted by Stella Clark

Artemis Roman Diana Cover
ARTEMIS (Roman name Diana) was the virgin goddess of the hunt. She helped women in childbirth but also brought sudden death with her arrows. Artemis and her brother Apollo were the children of Zeus and Leto. In some versions of their myth, Artemis was born first and helped her mother to deliver Apollo. She is sometimes referred to as Potnia Theron (Mistress of the Beasts) indicating her concern for and power over wild animals. She is also concerned with women's transition from girlhood to adulthood (via marriage) and with childbirth, a concern she shares with Hera and Eileithyia. Women who die are said to be struck down by her arrows.

Niobe, queen of Thebes, once boasted that she was better than Leto because she had many children while the goddess had but two. Artemis and Apollo avenged this insult to their mother by killing all or most of Niobe's children with their arrows. The weeping Niobe was transformed into stone, in which form she continued to weep.

When Apollo noticed that Artemis was spending a great deal of time hunting with the giant Orion, he decided to put an end to the relationship. He challenged Artemis to prove her skill at archery by shooting at an object floating far out at sea. Her shot was perfect. The target turned out to be the head of Orion.

Artemis is generally depicted as a young woman clad in buckskins, carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. She is often accompanied by wild creatures such as a stag or she-bear.

Euripides' Hippolytus shows her in opposition to Aphrodite. Actaeon and Hippolytos are two young men who, in different ways, are destroyed by their association with Artemis.

Artemis demands the sacrifice of the virgin Iphigeneia at Aulis before she will allow the Greek fleet to sail against Troy. The reasons given for her anger vary: Agamemnon kills a deer in her sacred grove (mentioned in Sophocles, Electra); or he boasts that he is a better shot than Artemis herself (Apollodorus). For the motif of Artemis' concern to protect her animals against marauding heroes see the story of Heracles and the Kerynitian hind; for the motif of mortals boasting of their superiority to the gods see the stories of Arachne, Actaeon, Marsyas, Niobe, the Lesser Ajax.

Kallisto was one of Artemis' nymphs who offended the goddess by becoming pregnant by Zeus and was banished. The jealous Hera then further punished her by turning her into a bear. The stories of Actaeon and Kallisto were known in the Renaissance through Ovid's Metamorphoses and were popular subjects for artists.

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This entry was posted on 27 October 2009 at Tuesday, October 27, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .

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