Learn About Greek Goddess Artemis

Greek Goddess of Wild Things

The Erechtheum Against Sky
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The sacred site of Greek Goddess Artemis is one of the most revered sanctuaries in Attica. The sanctuary at Brauron is located on the eastern coast of Attica near the water.

Artemis’ sanctuary was called the Brauroneion. It included a small temple, a stoa, a statue of Artemis, a spring, a stone bridge and cave shrines. It didn’t have a formal temple.

At this holy place, ancient Greek women used to visit to pay respect to Artemis, the protector of pregnancy and childbirth, by hanging clothes on the statue.

There was also a recurring procession and festival revolving around the Brauroneion.

Who Was Artemis?

Get to know the basics about the Greek Goddess of Wild Things, Artemis.

Artemis' appearance: Usually, an eternally young woman, beautiful and vigorous, wearing a short costume that leaves her legs free. At Ephesus, Artemis wears a controversial costume which may represent many breasts, fruits, honeycombs or parts of sacrificed animals. Scholars are undecided on how to interpret her outfit.

Artemis' symbol or attribute: Her bow, which she uses to hunt, and her hounds. She often wears the lunar crescent on her brow.

Strengths/talents: Physically strong, able to defend herself, defender and guardian of women in childbirth and of wildlife in general.

Weaknesses/flaws/quirks: Dislikes men, who she sometimes orders torn apart if they see her bathing. Opposes the institution of marriage and the subsequent loss of freedom it entails for women.

Parents of Artemis: Zeus and Leto.

Birthplace of Artemis: The island of Delos, where she was born under a palm tree, along with her twin brother Apollo. Other islands make a similar claim. However, Delos actually has a palm tree rising from the center of a swampy area that is pointed out as the sacred spot.

Since palms don't live that long, it is definitely not the original one.

Spouse: None. She runs with her maidens in the forests.

Children: None. She is a virgin goddess and does not mate with anyone.

Some major temple sites: Brauron (also called Vravrona), outside of Athens. She is also revered at Ephesus (now in Turkey), where she had a renowned temple of which a single column remains. The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, the port of Athens, has some remarkable bigger-than-life-size bronze statues of Artemis. The island of Leros in the Dodecanese island group is considered to be one of her special favorites. Statues of her are widespread in Greece and can appear in temples to other gods and goddesses, as well.

Basic story: Artemis is a freedom-loving young woman who likes to roam the forests with her female companions. She doesn't care for city life and keeps to the natural, wild environment. Those who peek at her or her maidens when they are bathing may be torn apart by her hounds. She has a special connection with swampy and marshy areas, as well as with forests.

Despite her ever-virgin status, she was considered to be a goddess of childbirth. Women would pray to her for a quick, safe and easy childbirth.

Interesting facts: Though Artemis didn't care much for men, young boys were welcome to study at her sanctuary at Brauron. Statues of both young boys and girls holding offerings have survived and can be seen at the Brauron Museum.

Some scholars assert that the Artemis of Ephesus was actually a completely different goddess than the Greek Artemis. Britomartis, an early Minoan goddess whose name is believed to mean "Sweet Maiden" or "Sparkling Rocks," may be a forerunner of Artemis. The last six letters of Britomartis' name form a kind of anagram of Artemis.

Another powerful early Minoan goddess, Dictynna, "of the nets," was added to the Artemis legend as either the name of one of her nymphs or as an extra title of Artemis herself. In her role as a goddess of childbirth, Artemis worked with, absorbed or was seen as a form of the Minoan goddess Eileithyia, who presided over the same aspect of life.

Artemis is also seen as a form of the later Roman goddess, Diana.

Common misspellings: Artemus, Artamis, Artemas, Artimas, Artimis. The correct or at least most widely accepted spelling is Artemis. Artemis is rarely used as a boy's name.

More Fast Facts on Greek Gods and Goddesses

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