1902 Encyclopedia > Artemis

Artemis
Greek goddess




ARTEMIS [DIANA], in Greek Mythology, twin sister of Apollo, but born a day before him, as it was said at Athens for the sake of explaining the fact of the 6th of each month being sacred to her, while the 7th was his day. It might seem, too, that their mother, Leto, had borne them in two different places, since the birth-place of Apollo was Delos, while that of his sister is called Ortygia. But the word Ortygia, meaning strictly, a "haunt of swallows," applies still to Delos, and may well have been a synonym for that island. In this, its original sense, it does not apply either to the island of Ortygia at Syracuse, or to the spot so named near Ephesus, which were the two principal competitors for the honour of having been the birth-place of the goddess. Besides, she slew Orion in Ortygia, and that incident is connected with the mythology of Delos. Consistently with her relation to Apollo, she was conceived as sharing his aspect and attributes, her occupations and even her beauty tending rather to what would be appropriate for males. Both were endowed with perpetual youth, and this, if it did not originally help to suggest the idea of their being twins, is consistent with a universal feeling as regards that relationship. Like him she is armed with bow and arrows, which, jointly with him, she used against offending mortals as in the case of the Niobides, or of Laodamia, and the wife of Eetion (Iliad, vi. 205, 428), she slaying women—he, men. At other times, with no sign of anger, her arrows brought soft death, such as Penelope desired (Odyssey, xviii. 201, xx. 62, 80). But, unlike Apollo's, the bow in her hands was chiefly employed, as a borrowed weapon might be, for the amusement of the chase. And here a broad line must be drawn between two sides of her character. On the one hand she is a sister of Apollo, and shares several of his functions, even taking part on occasion in his favourite music and dance. But in this respect her actions seem sometimes forced, as if grafted upon her in comparatively later times, as indeed seems also her name = aprt/xTjs, " spotless," as applied to a virgin. On the other hand she had what appears to be a more primitive name, Oupis or Opis, and a wide variety of functions, which are not only obviously suggested by the real and supposed influence of the moon on nature, but also approximate often closely enough to the functions of Apollo to have led to the iden-tification of the two deities as brother and sister. The name Opis is taken to refer to the light of the moon. With that luminary she was distinctly associated, but not as guiding its movement,—a task which devolved on Selene (Luna), just as the course of the sun was directed by Helios, not by Apollo. To regard the goddess of the moon as sister •of the god of the sun was natural, but it was an observation of a secondary kind, and founded only on the appearance and movement of those orbs. Primitive observations would refer to the sensations immediately awakened by the moonlight. In general terms Artemis, the moon goddess, was styled (pwcrrpopos or o-e\axr<f>opos, and carried, besides bow and arrows, a torch, here only with the idea of spreading light, and not as when, under the name of hegemone, she carried a torch to light the way for travellers, as in the typical instance of Demeter searching for Persephone. At Athens she had an annual festival, Muny-chia, on the 16th of April, for which cakes were made in the form of a full moon stuck over with lights. But, in particular, the spread of vegetation from the dew under a peaceful moonlight was ascribed to her influence. Her presence was felt near springs, streams, bays, on the sea, and in marshy places, whence she bore the titles of irorapia, Wveuo, kt/MvarK. In lifting the veil of night she revealed to the imagination the world of wild animals, among which she was an intrepid and unwearied huntress, and over which she exercised the care of a goddess. Her favourite animal was the deer, whence she obtained in Olympia and Elis the title of i\a<f>la or ikatpuiia. Because Agamemnon had killed a deer sacred to her she detained the Greek fleet in Aulis, and required the sacrifice of his daughter Iphi-genia. But while deer, goats, rams, and wild animals were generally regarded as dependent on her control, certain animals were specially associated with her in particular districts of Greece, as was the wild boar in iEtolia and elsewhere, and the bear in Arcadia, and in her worship as Artemis Brauronia, and Munychia at Athens. When a wild boar appeared ravaging a district, as did the Caly-donian boar, it was sent by Artemis in anger. The boar, however, was not an instrument of her moods, but rather, it would seem, a symbol of the awakening every spring of the hunting season after the sleep of winter. " Bears " (apK-roi) was the name sometimes applied at Athens to young girls who there, as throughout the rest of Greece, were under her special protection, in token of which it was usual for them to dedicate to her a lock of hair, a trinket, or some plaything. Boys also were under her care. With the symbol of a bear she was worshipped among the Arcadi-ans, or " bear people," who claimed her as the primeval mother of their race, till, through the increasing prominence of her virginal character, that honour devolved upon Callisto, whose name is an obvious variation of KaXXla-Trj, the title of Artemis, and her transformation into a bear an inven-tion for the purpose. Arcadia was her chief hunting-ground, and more numerous were her sanctuaries there than elsewhere in Greece. As Artemis agrotera, a title under which she was worshipped in Attica, she was con-ceived not only as goddess of the chase, but also as in some way providing the wild impetus with which men rush into battle. Hence the 500 goats annually sacrificed at Athens, to commemorate the battle of Marathon, were sacrificed to her. It was customary with the Spartans to sacrifice a goat before closing with an enemy (Xenophon, Hellen., iv. 2, 20). Possibly, also, the curious dance with which the maidens of Caryae (Caryatides), in the valley of the Eurotas, celebrated her festival had reference to her part in war. Her care over children was recognised in Laconia and Messenia under the name of Kopv6aXia,to whose temple, by the stream Tiasa, nurses brought their charges at the festival of the Tithenidia, i.e., festival of nurses. As Xox'a or Aox«a she divided the worship of Ilithyia by her helping presence at childbirth. With marriage her care almost ceased, and hence it has been supposed that the dresses which women dedicated to her were such as they had worn as virgins, and were intended to express piety for her past protection. In reference to this, appar-ently, she was styled ^TWVT] or X<T<UVIO. Youth, innocence, modesty, and a good name were thought to find high favour with her, and as an illustration of this was often told, in works of artandin the tragedies of Sophocles andEuripides. the story of Hippolytus. Her own purity was unsullied (ayv-q, ^Eschylus, Agamem., 135 ; cuev aoprrra., Sophocles, Electr., 1239). Actaeon, the huntsman, she caused to be devoured by his own hounds, because he had seen her bath-ing. She slew Orion because of his pressing advances to Aurora. She transformed Daphne into a laurel to preserve her from pursuit. Meadows in their spring verdure and flowers, fields with the seeds springing, and the gay seasons of rural life, gave occasion for thoughts of her overseeing care. She was hailed by rustic choruses, all manner of rejoicings, and, in particular, on a hill atthe back of Mount Taygetus with songs known as xaAa/Sot'Sta. In Arcadia she was called hymnia. At the mouth of the Alpheus she was worshipped as 'AXtpumvla or ' A\<i>elovcra, the common belief being enlivened with the story of how she defeated the god of that river in his passion for her nymph Arethusa, by leading the spring Arethusa underground away to the island of Ortygia at Syracuse.





So far the various phases of her character are such as were more or less generally accepted in the times of literature and art. But there had also survived certain peculiarities in her worship from apparently very early times, though the fact of their being found only in certain localities ren-ders it impossible to know whether they had been originally only local peculiarities or universally admitted. Of this kind was the Tauric Artemis, peculiar at first to the Crimea and the shores of the Black Sea. From the Crimea, Orestes, it was said, brought the ancient image of the god-dess to Sparta, and with it her worship, the chief character-istic of which was the sacrifice of human beings which it required. At Sparta these sacrifices were afterwards com-muted by Lycurgus for the ceremony of flogging youths at her altar, but not till this barbarous phase of her worship had spread to several places in Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy. Her title at Sparta was Orthia or Orikosia. Again, originally peculiar to Crete was Artemis Britomartis, or Dictynna, the latter name being interpreted by the legend that Minos had loved and pursued her till she leapt into the sea, and was saved by being caught in a fisherman's net. In this character she was chiefly the goddess of seafarers, and as such was widely worshipped on the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean. But nowhere was the wor-ship of Artemis so non-Hellenic in character as among the Greeks at Ephesus. It would seem as if the Greek colonists there had found among the native Carians and Leleges a form of the moon goddess, which, though widely different from their own, had the advantage of an image that had fallen from heaven (diopetes), and an established hold on the people with whom the colonists had to deal. Like theirs she was a goddess with power over wild animals, and iden-tified with their productivity, as appears from her being represented with many breasts,—a characteristic of animals, and not necessarily to be understood as expressing her interest in maternity in the usual sense, which would have been strongly opposed to the Greek feeling towards their virgin goddess. Her worship was surrounded by hierodulae and eunuchs. She was the goddess of the warlike Amazons, whose fondness of the chase presented another point of contact between the Asiatic and the Greek goddess. But however much of the Greek element may in time have become grafted upon her, Diana of Ephesus was only in rare instances accepted by the Greeks outside of Asia Minor. The wealth and splendour of the temple made Ephesus a powerful attraction for devotees in the neighbourhood. A figure of her similar to that at Ephesus existed near Magnesia on the Meander, where from the name of the spot she was called _____.

The usual figure of the Ephesian Artemis, as preserved in works of art, is in the form of a female with many breasts, from the waist to the feet resembling a pillar, nar- rowing downwards, and sculptured, all round with rows of animals. In archaic works, as on the chest of Cypselus of Coiinth, she appeared winged, and holding a Hon with each hand. As to the original image, believed to have fallen from heaven, it is not impossible that it had been made to take the place of a meteorite. But the Greek Artemis was usually represented as a huntress with bow and quiver, in tace very like Apollo, her drapery flowing to her feet, or, more frequently, girt high for speed. She is accompanied often by a deer or a dog. Perhaps the finest existing statue of her is the Diana of Versailles On the coins of Arcadia, JEtolia, Crete, and Sicily, are to be seen varied and beautiful repre- sentations of her head as conceived by the Greek artists in the best times. (A.. S. M.)







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