*Includes ancient accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
The interactions between mortals and immortals in Greek myths were usually a coin-flip of love and hate, with the Trojan War being the biggest exception. This was the case even though the gods were mercilessly partisan. If the immortals chose not to sleep with mortals, they were punishing them for some slight or other, such as neglecting a sacrifice or hubristic boasting. Being the "eternal virgin" in the eyes of most later mythographers did not present Artemis with many opportunities to pursue amorous liaisons, but she never failed to exact her revenge for slights against herself or her mother, Leto.
Artemis had one of the most widespread cults in the Greek world, perhaps due to her connection to nature, which can be a ubiquitous antagonist or boon-giver. Her association with nature may also explain why she was one of the oldest deities in the Greek pantheon, although her appearance in the Mycenaean Linear B script (the earliest form of Greek that has been deciphered, dating to as early as 1450 BCE) is still contested. Etymology often gives modern readers a better idea of the earliest form of a deity, but Artemis's is confusing. Of course, that didn't stop many writers, both ancient and modern, from making attempts at it, either associating her with mythic qualities (such as "maidenhood" and "purity") and/or giving her non-Greek origins. The latter is as unsurprising as the former, since Artemis had a large following throughout Greece and across Asia Minor, where her most famous temple-one of the Seven Wonders of the World-resided. It was in the Near East that Artemis embraced some of the wilder and more formidable characteristics many of the later Greek mythographers only hinted at.
To many modern readers, what is most surprising about Artemis is not her "foreignness," but that she was not the carefree maiden prancing through woods and glades to give succor to animals in need. She was a maiden, and her realm was most certainly wooded, but it was above all wild, as was she. Since the dawn of time, humans have been clustering together for safety, and Artemis was the emanation of nature and all the unyielding and unforgiving elements therein Many of the stories in which she was involved reflect this wilderness (and oftentimes cruelty), finding their physical manifestation in much of the cult activity carried out in her honor.
The duality of nature as both boon and danger is often present in the writing about Artemis, which gives more for modern historians to work with. Moreover, her deeds are recorded almost unceasingly from the 8th century BCE - when Homer and Hesiod first began recording orally transmitted myths - through to Roman times (during which her name changed, but little else). There is no definitive text on Artemis's deeds, there was no shortage of works that help explain the mythological, ritualistic, and cultural persona of the huntress.
Artemis: The Origins and History of the Greek Goddess of the Moon and the Hunt looks at the story of the legendary goddess and the various roles she played in ancient mythology. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about Artemis like never before.