I have taught Language Arts for 4 years and served as a Professor for ENG 101 and GLS for more than 3 years. I am a licensed teacher with a B.A. in English Literature, International and Global Studies, and Religious Studies. I have a M.A. in Global Studies.
Gods in The Iliad
Homer's The Iliad is an epic tale describing the final moments of the Trojan War. While the story contains many battles with men pitted against other men, the epic also contains examples of mythological gods fighting against other gods. Imagine having dozens of family members that you can't kill but fight against. It seems like it would be a long, tiresome fight. Well, for the Greek gods, it could be. Which is why only the most passionate among them took interest in mortal wars. Among the gods involved in the war was the goddess Artemis, who sided with the Trojans.
Artemis of the Hunt
Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and of wild things. Also known as Diana or other names such as Selene, Artemis was a fierce female who taught man how to hunt in the wilderness and survive. Fierce and bold, the youthful Artemis typically ran wild in the forests of the world and set her wrath upon man whenever she deemed it necessary. As a protector of women, Artemis was kinder to young maidens whom she cherished and was a match for no man. However, The Iliad shows us another side of Artemis - one easily upset by the harsh words of her ''stepmother,'' the goddess Hera.
In The Iliad there are many things said by Artemis and about Artemis that are crucial to understanding her role as a supporter of the Trojans and an adversary of her fellow gods.
Imagine a young maiden who cared for other young girls and helped animals in the woods. You may be picturing a Disney princess. If you think of Artemis as a more assertive Snow White, you're not too off. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt and of the wild. She is usually surrounded by beautiful wildlife and lots of creatures. Often viewed as a younger woman, it is hard to imagine her as a harsh goddess. Don't be fooled! She definitely had a mean streak. In Book IX of The Iliad we see that Artemis loses her temper:
''For Artemis of the golden throne was angry and did them hurt because Oeneus had not offered her his harvest first-fruits. The other gods had all been feasted with hecatombs, but to the daughter of great Zeus alone he had made no sacrifice. He had forgotten her, or somehow or other it had escaped him, and this was a grievous sin. Thereon the archer goddess in her displeasure sent a prodigious creature against him - a savage wild boar with great white tusks that did much harm to his orchard lands, uprooting apple-trees in full bloom and throwing them to the ground.''
This story regarding Artemis and her quick displeasure is a message that even the youngest and seemingly apathetic gods of Olympus can become enraged.
Artemis, the Warrior
The Iliad shows a fierce side of Artemis that many mortals encounter when they offend the goddess. During the final stage of the Trojan War, Artemis' shows her true colors as a warrior. Amidst the fighting in Book XXI, Artemis calls out to her twin brother Apollo for failing to fight against their uncle Poseidon, god of the seas.
Artemis cried, ''So you would fly, Far-Darter, and hand victory over to Poseidon with a cheap vaunt to boot. Baby, why keep your bow thus idle? Never let me again hear you bragging in my father's house, as you have often done in the presence of the immortals, that you would stand up and fight with Poseidon.''
This quote shows that Artemis is unrelenting in her ferocity - even when talking to her own brother, the god of healing and sunlight.
Artemis and Hera
After Artemis yells at her brother for failing to fight against Poseidon in Book XXI, Hera - wife of Zeus and ''stepmother'' to the goddess, becomes enraged at Artemis' boldness. Poseidon, part of the great trinity in Olympus, deserves the respect of every god.
Hera calls Artemis a vixen and shrieks, ''...how dare you cross me thus? For all your bow you will find it hard to hold your own against me. Zeus made you as a lion among women, and lets you kill them whenever you choose. You will And it better to chase wild beasts and deer upon the mountains than to fight those who are stronger than you are. If you would try war, do so, and find out by pitting yourself against me, how far stronger I am than you are.''
After saying this, Hera slaps Artemis across the face and causes Artemis to drop her beloved silver arrows. Artemis runs back to her father, Zeus, in Olympus like a spoiled child. If you have ever seen a kid run from one parent to the other after a scolding, then you will know just how this plays out. Of course, Zeus pets his young daughter and comforts her. Artemis is a total daddy's girl and gets exactly what she wants from him as she sits on Zeus' knee weeping. Artemis does not return to the battle but remains with Zeus before once again running wild in the forests of Earth.
Artemis, the feisty goddess of the hunt and of wild things, joined the Trojan War and sided with the Trojans. During this time, we see many sides of Artemis through various quotes made about or by the goddess. We see her anger as she wipes out villages as a result of being forgotten in tribute. Artemis turn bold and brazen as she demands her brother Apollo fight Poseidon. Immediately following, we see Artemis ironically brought ''down a notch'' by the goddess Hera. After being slapped in the face and verbally scolded, Artemis runs to Olympus and tells her father Zeus of her mistreatment. The Iliad provides meaningful insight on the many sides of the goddess Artemis.
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