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Παρασκευή, 28 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012
The Mythology of Artemis
The Mythology of Artemis
was the daughter of Leto and Zeus, and the twin of Apollo. She is the
goddess of the wilderness, the hunt and wild animals, and fertility. She
is the helpers of midwives as a goddess of birth.
In one legend, Artemis was born one day before her brother Apollo. Her
mother gave birth to her on the island of Ortygia, then, almost
immediately after her birth, she helped her mother to cross the straits
over to Delos, where she then delivered Apollo. This was the beginning
of her role as guardian of young children and patron of women in
childbirth. Being a goddess of contradictions, she was the protectors of
women in labor, but it was said that the arrows of Artemis brought them
sudden death while giving birth. As was her brother, Apollo, Artemis
was a divinity of healing, but also brought and spread diseases such as
leprosy, rabies and even gout.
Artemis with her twin brother, Apollo, put to death the children of
Niobe. The reason being that Niobe, a mere mortal, had boasted to Leto,
the mother of the divine twins, that she had bore more children, which
must make her superior to Leto. Apollo being outraged at such an insult
on his mother, informed Artemis. The twin gods hunted them down and shot
them with their bows and arrows; Apollo killed the male children and
Artemis the girls.
Artemis was worshiped in most Greek cities but only as a secondary
deity. However, to the Greeks in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) she was a
prominent deity. In Ephesus, a principal city of Asia Minor, a great
temple was built in her honor, which became one of the "Seven Wonders of
the Ancient World". But at Ephesus she was worshiped mainly as a
fertility goddess, and was identified with Cybele the mother goddess of
eastern lands. The cult statues of the Ephesian Artemis differ greatly
from those of mainland Greece, whereas she is depicted as a huntress
with her bow and arrows. Those found at Ephesus show her in the eastern
style, standing erect with numerous nodes on her chest.
There have been many theories as
to what they represent. Some say they are breasts, others that they are
bulls testes which were sacrificed to her. So the true interpretation
remains uncertain, we can say that each represents fertility. She
carried to her own temple on her head as the protector of her own
temple. But on the very night Alexander the Great was born in 356 in
Macedonia, she could not keep her own temple in Ephesus. Because she was
helping the birth of the important person. Later Ephesians understood
it. When they told this Alexander the Great after his conquest of
Anatolia, he gave the city special privileges.
Being associated with chastity, Artemis at an early age asked her
father Zeus to grant her eternal virginity. Also, all her companions
were virgins. Artemis was very protective of her purity, and gave grave
punishment to any man who attempted to dishonor her in any form.
Actaeon, while out hunting, accidentally came upon Artemis and her
nymphs, who bathing naked in a secluded pool. Seeing them in all their
naked beauty, the stunned Actaeon stopped and gazed at them, but when
Artemis saw him ogling them, she transformed him into a stag. Then,
incensed with disgust, she set his own hounds upon him. They
chased and killed what they thought was another stag, but it was their
master. As with Orion, a giant and a great hunter, there are several
legends which tell of his death, one involving Artemis. It is said that
he tried to rape the virgin goddess, so killed him with her bow and
arrows. Another says she conjured up a scorpion which killed Orion and
his dog. Orion became a constellation in the night sky, and his dog
became Sirius, the dog star. Yet another version says it was the
scorpion which stung him and was transformed into the constellation with
Orion, the later being Scorpio.