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Different stories have different points about the wild, divine justice, or fate. ... Greek girls dedicated their dollies to Artemis when they were about to get ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Artemis

  • Mistress of Animals
  • Goddess of the Hunt

I sing about Artemis of the golden arrows, chaste
virgin of the noisy hunt, who delights in her
shafts and strikes down the stag, the very own
sister of Apollo of the golden sword. She ranges
over shady hills and windy heights, rejoicing in
the chase as she draws her bow, made all of
silver, and shoots her shafts of woe. The peaks
of the lofty mountains tremble, the dark woods
echo terribly to the shrieks of wild beasts. But
she with dauntless heart looks everywhere to
wreak destruction on animals.
H u n t r e s s
. . . and dancer . . .
But when the huntress, who delights in her
arrows, has had her fill of pleasure and cheered
her heart, she unstrings her curved bow and makes
her way to the great house of her dear brother,
Phoebus Apollo, in the rich land of Delphi, where
she supervises the lovely dances of the Muses and
Graces. After she has hung up her unstrung bow
and arrows, she takes first place and,
exquisitely attired, leads the dance. And they
join in a heavenly choir to sing how Leto of the
beautiful ankles bore two children who are by far
the best of the immortals in sagacious thought
and action. Homeric Hymn to Artemis
The hymn shows some of the associations of
  • virginity
  • the hunt and destruction of animals
  • the bow, arrows, distance, mercilessness
  • mountains, winds, wilderness
  • silver
  • her twin Apollo
  • dancing and singing
  • a group of maidens, either her hunting companions
    or her dancing companions

Artemis other range of powers is hinted at by
her cult statue at Ephesus
  • promoter and overseer of the fertility of animals
  • help to women in childbirth
  • overseer of the transition of virgins into brides
  • emblem of transition of young men into adult
    status, from wild to civilized
  • Roman name Diana

Origins of Artemis
Artemis appears first in Greek art as a figure
with Near Eastern connections, the potnia theron
or Mistress of Animals. Her destructive
capacity was matched by her role as protector of
young animals and overseer of animal fertility.
Destructive and Nurturing
Zeus has made you a lion among women, and given
you leave to kill any at your pleasure. (Hera to
Artemis, Homers Iliad) Artemis, lovely Artemis,
so kind to the ravening lions tender, helpless
cubs, the suckling young of beasts that stalk the
wilds. (Chorus in Aeschylus, Agamemnon)
Destructive and Nurturing
Hunter-gatherers are aware that they can only
live by killing their fellow creatures, but they
also have a big stake in maintaining the
populations of the wild animals they hunt
without them, they starve. In the agricultural
society of historical Greece, hunting issues are
less central to survival, but they are honored in
the figure of Artemis.
The combination of hunter and nurturer may seem
strange but it makes sense in a hunter-gatherer
Why a huntress?
  • because of the association of fertility with a
    female figure?
  • because nature is essentialized as feminine in
    many patriarchal societies?
  • holdovers from the neolithic great goddess (if
    there really was one)?
  • for the same reasons the war goddess Athena is

Why a female deity of the hunt, when hunting was
a male activity?
Goddess in liminal territory
Hunting was a liminal activity, in which young
men went to the borders of civilization and
entered into risky relationships with the
wild. Artemis, as a liminal deity, embodies this
marginal, dangerous territory. This is one reason
for her merciless, destructive side nature is
destructive, as are all liminal areas. What
transforms can kill.
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Failed Initiation Actaeon
Greek cities marked this transition in many
different ways, and several stories involving
Artemis seem to be cautionary tales about the
young men who dont make it through the
trials. The story of Actaeon is the best known.
He saw Artemis bathing nude. She turned him into
a deer, and he was hunted and killed by his own
hunting dogs. Wilderness 1, initiands 0.
Initiation in many societies is a formal rite
of status change. Rituals signalling passage
from child to adult are most universal.
Interpretations of Actaeon
There are many different versions of what
happened that day. Ovid says Actaeon was unaware
Other versions paint Actaeon as a voyeur who
deliberately spied on the goddess. Different
stories have different points about the wild,
divine justice, or fate. Either way, Artemis,
like nature, is dangerous and merciless.
And while Diana was being bathed, as she had
been many times before, Actaeon, Cadmus
grandson, came to the grotto uncertain of his way
and wandering through the unfamiliar wood so
fate carried him along. Ovid, Metamorphoses
Artemis and the transitions of maidens
In Homers Odyssey, the marriageable girl
Nausicaa is compared to Artemis standing out
above her companions, even more beautiful. Greek
girls dedicated their dollies to Artemis when
they were about to get married.
In Greek society, marriage was a womans most
vital initiation, and Artemis was equally their
liminal deity.
Sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron
Near Athens, the sanctuary at Brauron was
dedicated to another period of girls lives the
wildness of late childhood.
Aristocratic families brought their daughters
here to serve the goddess as Little Bears. The
Little Bears performed various cult activities,
among them a footrace in honor of the goddess.
Proud parents dedicated images of their daughters
as Little Bears.
(Incidentally, girls also ran races elsewhere in
Greece here in honor of Hera at Sparta.)
Callisto and Arcas
As with Actaeon, many versions abound Zeus,
Hera, and Artemis are all credited with
transforming and/or tormenting Callisto.
Ursa Minor
The bear association is also present in the story
of Callisto. Callisto was raped by Zeus,
transformed into a bear, gave birth to a son
Arcas. Eventually both were catasterized transfo
rmed into constellations.
Ursa Major
Artemis was patron goddess of a number of major
cities, a number of them in Asia Minor. This is
her temple at Sardis.
A gorgon marks the pediment of her archaic temple
at Aphaia. Leopards flank the gorgon, which
somehow recalls the potnia theron . . .
At Jerash in Jordan, she had a vast temple
complex in Roman times
This is a reconstruction at perhaps her most
famous sanctuary in antiquity, Ephesus in Turkey,
whose cult statue was much copied (though less
understood . . .)
The divine twins
O blessed Leto, rejoice, for you gave birth to
children of splendor, Lord Apollo and Artemis,
showerer of arrows, her in Ortygia first, Apollo
in rocky Delos. Homeric Hymn to Apollo
In some versions, Artemis helps her mother give
birth to Apollo, reflecting her role as
facilitator of (animal) fecundity.
Artemis and Apollo are twins, both children of
Leto by Zeus. In a familiar story, Leto fled to
escape Heras wrath.
The divine twins
The twins share many elements of their nature
sometimes they are shown sharing a home, or
sitting next to each other at the banquets of the
gods, or Artemis and the nymphs dance while
Apollo and the Muses play music. Here they fight
together against the giants.
The divine twins
They are both distant deities Artemis is
virgin and unapproachable by humans Apollo has
many disastrous liaisons with humans, but keeps
his distance in other ways. Both are associated
with sudden death Apollo specifically with
diseases and plague. Both can strike humans down
They both use the bow, Artemis for hunting.
Niobes story is another story of hubris and its
comeupance. Niobe boasted that she was better
than Leto since she had 14 children and Leto had
only 2. Artemis and Apollo fixed that situation.
Niobe turned into a stone which still weeps . . .
Artemis also becomes associated with Hekate, a
mysterious goddess with old Indo-European
roots. Hekate eventually becomes the goddess of
witchcraft, almost opposite to the chaste
Artemis, but paradoxically an aspect of her the
dark side.
Later, Artemis and Apollo become associated with
the moon and the sun, respectively.
Euripides Hippolytus
Euripides was known as a controversial
playwright. He often focused on female
characters womens issues (for better or
worse), used startling new musical styles, and
challenged his audience with uncomfortable scenes
and unresolved issues. Hippolytus focused on a
younger wife driven mad by Aphrodite, a virginal
young man, and a jealous father.
I am Cypris, a mighty and renowned goddess both
in heaven and among mortals. Everyone who looks
on the light of the sun throughout the whole
world is at my mercy I reward those who
celebrate my power, but I destroy those who with
arrogant pride oppose me . . . Hippolytus is the
only one who declares that I am the worst of
deities. He renounces sex and rejects marriage,
and reveres Artemis, believing her the greatest
of deities. He hunts throughout the green woods,
always intimate with the virgin goddess, enjoying
a greater than mortal relationship. I am not
envious why should I be?
But for his sins against me I will take revenge
on Hippolytus this very day. Phaedra, the noble
wife of his father, was struck to the heart with
a terrible desire for him, in accordance with my
  • Some issues in the play
  • rejection of one god in favor of another is
    this acceptable?
  • Is it acceptable to violate social mores and
  • womens difficult lot in life women as a source
    of trouble for men.
  • who is to blame when humans are brought down by
    the gods?

Euripides Hippolytus
Artemis There is a law for the gods as follows
no one of us wishes to thwart the will of another
but we always stand aside. . . . As it is, these
misfortunes have burst on you most of all, but I
too feel pain.
So hail to you, Artemis, with my song, and at the
same time to all the other goddesses as well but
I begin to sing about you first of all . . .
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