The Greek goddess Artemis, one of the 12 deities who lived on the slopes of Mount Olympus*, was the twin sister of Apollo*. Fond of hunting, archery, and wild animals, she was also associated with childbirth, the harvest, and the moon. As a virgin goddess, Artemis was considered the guardian of chastity and protector of maidens and small children. She was also worshiped by the Romans, who called her Diana.
deity god or goddess
chastity purity or virginity
Titan one of a family of giants who ruled the earth until overthrown by the Greek gods of Olympus
Artemis and Apollo were the children of Zeus* and the Titan Leto. When Leto was about to deliver the twins, Zeus's jealous wife Hera declared that she would not allow them to be born in any land where the sun shone. For this reason, Zeus led Leto to a floating island and caused a wave to shade the shore, creating a place for the birth that was above ground but hidden from the sun.
Many myths about Artemis relate to her vengeful nature. She was known for punishing humans who offended or angered her. In one story, a young hunter named Actaeon came upon Artemis while she was bathing in a stream. Although he knew better than to spy on a goddess, he was captivated by her beauty. Artemis caught sight of Actaeon and, not wanting him to boast of having seen her naked body, changed him into a stag. His own hounds then attacked and killed him.
In another myth, Artemis and Apollo defended the honor of their mother, Leto. A woman named Niobe, who had six sons and six daughters, boasted that her offspring outshone Leto's two children. Outraged, Leto sent Artemis and Apollo to punish Niobe. The twins shot Niobe's children with their arrows, killing all of them.
In works of art, Artemis is often shown carrying her bow and arrows and surrounded by her hounds. She appears in many literary works including Homer's* Iliad, Ovid's* Metamorphoses, and one play of Euripides*.