Also known as Diana, Artemis was the divine personification of the moon, and was twin sister to the sun god Apollo. She became goddess of fertility, of woods and forests, the patroness of the hunter, and, in some instances, the punisher of men through the agency of wild animals, as in the case of the Caledonian Boar.

Her favourite animal was the stag, in keeping with her huntress aspect, and she was not slow to punish those who killed—inadvertently or otherwise—her prize animals.A case in point is the time when Agamemnon slew one of her stags, and Artemis detained the Greek fleet at Aulis, on its way to Troy, there extracting the sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia. Also, there is the story of the hunter Aktaeon, who observed the goddess bathing, and as a result was transformed into a stag himself, and eaten by his own hunting hounds.

She also slew Orion, who was said to have angered Artemis in his pursuit of Eos, the morning.Artemis also became viewed as the protector of fishermen, due to her association with the moon, and its influence on the tides. It is told that, on escaping from King Minos of Crete, she had had to throw herself from a rock into the sea, and was caught in the net of a fisherman. Other attributes ascribed to her include goddess of music, goddess of childbirth, and goddess of virgins.

She, like Apollo, was sometimes looked on as a goddess of death, but in her case it was said that someone stricken suddenly and without warning had been laid low by a kindly arrow from Artemis (or, in the case of men, Apollo).Pure in the fullest sense of the word, Artemis vowed when only a young maiden to remain always in a single state, and received the permission of Zeus for this;to punish with great severity any who tried to tamper with this resolve (in particular we see the nymph Daphne, whom she transformed into a laurel tree, and Callisto, whom she turned into a bear).

Nymphs often accompanied her, and she was not angered at all of them.

In fact, the story of Arethusa reflects this, the nymph being rescued by Artemis from the unwanted attentions of Alpheios, the river god.Artemis’ sigils were, as already mentioned, the stag, but also the dog and the first fruits of the fields.



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