only a goddess who deals death, but she is also a healing and a purifying divinity, οὐλία (“the healer,” cf. Apollo Oulios), λύη, λυαία (“purifier,”) and σώτειρα, “she who saves from all evils” (cf. Apollo ἀποτρόπαιος). Her connexion with the prophetic art is doubtful, although mention is made of an Artemis Sibylla. To her association with Apollo are certainly to be referred the names Delphinia and Pythia, and the titles referring to state and family life—προστατηρία, πατριῶτις, βουλαία. It probably accounts for her appearance as a goddess of seafarers, the bestower of fair weather and prosperous voyages. At Phigalia in Arcadia, Eurynome, represented as half woman and half fish, was probably another form of Artemis. To the same association may be traced her slight connexion with music, song and dance.
It is in the Arcadian and Athenian rites and legends, however, which are certainly earlier than Homer, that the original conception of the goddess is to be found. These tend to show that Artemis was first and foremost a nature goddess, whose cult shows numerous traces of totemism. As a goddess of fertilizing moisture, lakes, rivers, springs, and marshy lowlands are brought into close connexion with her. Thus she is λιμναία, δέσποινα λίμνης (“lady of the lake”), ἑλεία (“of marshes”), ποταμία (“of rivers,” especially of the Cladaus and Alpheus, whence her name Ἀλφειαία). Her influence is very active in promoting the increase of the fruits of the field, hence she is specially a goddess of agriculture. She drives away the mice (cf. Apollo Smintheus) and slays the Aloidae, the corn spirits; she is the friend of the reapers, and requires her share of the first fruits. Her character as a harvest goddess is clearly shown in the legend of the Calydonian boar, sent by her to ravage the fields out of resentment at not having received a harvest offering from Oeneus (see Meleager). As ἐπιμύλιος and ἐπικλιβάνιος (“presiding over the mill and the oven”) she extends her protection over the further development of the grain for the use of man.
Artemis was naturally also a goddess of trees and vegetation. Near Orchomenus her wooden image stood in a large cedar-tree—an indication that her worship was originally that of the tree itself (κεδρεᾶτις, “the cedar goddess”); at Caryae there was an image of Artemis καρυᾶτις (“the nut-tree goddess”). Two curious epithets in this connexion deserve notice: λυγοδέσμα (“bound with withies”), derived from the legend that the image of Artemis Orthia was found in a thicket of withies, which twined round it and kept it upright (λύγος is the agnus castus, and points to Artemis in her relation to women); and ἀπαγχομένη (“the suspended”), probably a reference to the custom of hanging the mask or image of a vegetation-divinity on a tree to obtain fertility (Farnell, Cults of the Greek States, ii. p. 429; cf. the “swing” festival (αἰώρα) of the Greeks, and the oscilla of the Romans).
The functions of the goddess extended from the vegetable to the animal world, to the inhabitants of the woods and mountains. This is clearly expressed in the cult of Artemis Laphria (possibly connected with λάφυρα, “spoils”), at whose festivals all kinds of animals, both wild and tame, as well as fruits, were thrown together on a huge wood fire. Her general name in this connexion was ἀγροτέρα (“roaming the wilds,” not necessarily “goddess of the chase,” an aspect less familiar in the older religion), to whom five hundred goats were offered every year by the Athenians as a thanksgiving in commemoration of the victory at Marathon. Numerous animals were sacred to her, and at Syracuse all kinds of wild beasts, including a lioness, were carried in procession in her honour. It has been observed that she is rather the patroness of the wild beasts of the field than of the more agricultural or domestic animals (Farnell, Cults, ii. p. 431), although the epithet ἡμερασία (“the tamer,” according to others, the “gentle” goddess of healing) seems to refer to her connexion with the latter. The bear was especially associated with her in Arcadia, and in her worship as Artemis Brauronia at Brauron in Attica. According to the legend, Callisto, an Arcadian nymph, became by Zeus the mother of Arcas, the eponymous hero of the Arcadians. Zeus, to conceal the amour, changed Callisto into a she-bear; Hera, however, discovered it, and persuaded Artemis to slay Callisto, who was placed amongst the stars as ἄρκτος (“the bear”). There is no doubt that Callisto is identical with Artemis; her name is an obvious variation of καλλίστη, a frequent epithet of the goddess, to whom a temple was erected on the hill where Callisto was supposed to be buried. It is suggested by M. Kraus in Classical Review, February 1908, that Aphaea, the cult-name of Artemis at Aegina, is of Semitic origin and means “beautiful.” Closely connected with this legend is the worship of Artemis Brauronia. The accounts of its institution, which differ in detail, agree that it was intended to appease the wrath of the goddess at the killing of a bear. A number of young girls, between five and ten years of age, wearing a bear-skin (afterwards a saffron-coloured robe) danced a bear-dance, called ἀρκτεία, the girls themselves being called ἄρκτοι. In one account, a maiden was ordered to be sacrificed to the bear Artemis, but a certain man who had a goat called it his daughter and offered it up in secret, just as at Munychium a fawn dressed up as a girl was sacrificed to the goddess. In place of the goat or fawn a bear might have been expected, but the choice may have been influenced by the animal totem of the tribe into whose hands the ritual fell. The whole is a reminiscence of earlier times, when the goddess herself was a bear, to whom human sacrifice was offered. Callisto was originally a bear-goddess worshipped in Arcadia, identified with Artemis, when nothing remained of the original animal-worship but name and ritual. The worship of Callisto being merged in that of the greater divinity, she became the handmaid and companion of Artemis. A stone figure of a bear found on the Acropolis seems to point to the worship of Artemis Brauronia. Her death at the hands of the latter was explained by the wrath of the goddess—in her later aspect as goddess of chastity—at Callisto’s amour with Zeus (see A. Lang, Myth, Ritual and Religion, ii.; Farnell, Cults, ii. p. 437). The custom of flogging youths at the altar of Artemis Orthia at Limnaeum in Laconia, and the legend of Iphigeneia (q.v.), herself another form of Artemis, connected with Artemis Taurica of the Tauric Chersonese, are usually supposed to point to early human sacrifice (but see Farnell). Various explanations have been given of the epithet ὀρθία: (1) that it refers to the primitive type of the “erect” wooden idol; (2) that it means “she who safely rears children after birth,” or “heals the sick” (cf. ὄρθιος applied to Asclepius); (3) that it has a phallic significance (Schreiber in Roscher’s Lexikon). Scholars differ as to whether Artemis Taurica is identical with Artemis Tauropolos, worshipped chiefly at Samos with a milder ritual, but it is more probable that ταυροπόλος simply means “protectress of bulls.”
The protecting influence of Artemis was extended, like that of Apollo, to the highest animal, man. She was especially concerned in the bringing up of the young. Boys were brought by their nurses to the temple of Artemis κορυθαλία (= κουροτρόφος) and there consecrated to her; at the Apaturia, on the day called κουρεῶτις, boys cut off and dedicated their hair to her. Girls as well as boys were under her protection. Her function as a goddess of marriage is less certain, and the cult-titles adduced in support of it are hardly convincing; such are ἡγεμόνη, interpreted as “she who leads home the bride,” σελασφόρος, “bearer of light,” that is, of torches at the marriage procession. On the other hand, her connexion with childbirth is clearly shown: in many places she is even called Eilithyia, who in the earlier poets was regarded as distinct from her. In one version of the story of her birth she is said to have been born a day before Apollo, in order to assist Leto at his birth; women in childbirth invoked her aid, and after delivery offered up their clothes or a lock of hair. As already noticed, in Homer Artemis appears as a goddess of death; closely akin to this is the conception of her as a goddess of war. As such she is νικηφόρος (“bringer of victory”); the title κολαινίς is possibly connected with
- The site of the temple of Artemis Orthia was excavated by the British School of Archaeology at Athens (see Annual, 1906). The flogging (διαμαστίγωσις) is explained by R. C. Bosanquet as a late institution of decadent Sparta, an exaggeration of an old ritual practice of whipping away boys who tried to steal cheeses from the altar (see The Year’s Work in Classical Studies, ed. W. H. D. Rouse, 1907).