Artemis, sister of Apollo and also an archer, is known as a goddess of the hunt as well as of animals and wildlife. Her companions are the nymphs, with whom she dances and roams the wilderness. She is also a goddess who can assist in childbirth, and a protector of young children as well as young animals of all kinds. Her association with the moon came late to Greece.
As a virgin goddess, she has no children.
Myths and Stories
Artemis shares her first story with her twin Apollo, her birth; in some versions of this tale, she is born first and even helps with her brother’s delivery.
In myth Artemis is not particularly friendly to mortals outside of those who are under her particular protection; in fact she can be deadly, and several of her myths have to do with her killing mortals who have somehow offended her. Along with her brother Apollo, she killed all of Niobe’s children when Niobe dared to compare her large brood to Leto’s two. She is also known to have slain several of her companions after they were seduced by Zeus.
Artemis is one of the three virgin goddesses, along with Hestia and Athena; Aphrodite has no power over her.
Names and Epithets
Artemis Agrotera (Artemis of the Hunt). Refers to Artemis as a patron goddess of hunters.
Artemis Genetyllis (Artemis of Births). Refers to Artemis’ role as a protector of childbirth.
Artemis Akraia (Artemis upon the Hill) Many of Artemis’ temples were outside the city walls, often atop a hill.
Artemis was one of the most widely-worshipped and most ancient Hellenic deities. She was celebrated in a number of festivals, including the following:
Elaphebolia, a festival of Artemis Elaphebolios (deer hunter), when a stag was sacrificed to the goddess; when stags became too rare, pastry substitutes replaced this offering
Charisteria, a festival of thanksgiving to Artemis Agrotera (goddess of the hunt) and Enyalios (Ares)
Mounichia, when Artemis was offered small cakes similar to those offered to Hekate at crossroads.
She was also honored on the sixth day of each Greek month.
Probably Artemis’ most important atribute is the bow and arrow. The bear and the deer were sacred to her; her chariot was said to be drawn by deer.