Artemis, Greek Goddess | Facts, Family & Personality

Kristin Sendur, Christopher Sailus
  • Author
    Kristin Sendur

    Kristin has taught middle and high school social studies for more than four years. She has a masters in education from Boston College.

  • Instructor
    Christopher Sailus

    Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

Who is Artemis in Greek mythology? Find Artemis myths and facts. See the personality of Artemis the goddess, and learn why she is the Greek goddess of childbirth. Updated: 09/12/2021

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Who is Artemis in Greek Mythology?

Artemis was an important goddess in the Greek pantheon. She was the goddess of hunting and nature. She loved to hunt and spent much of her time in the forest.

The god Zeus was Artemis' father and the Titan Leto was her mother. Artemis had a twin brother named Apollo.

Artemis never married and remained a virgin. As a result, she was also associated with chastity and young women. It was very uncommon for women to remain unmarried in ancient Greece. She was one of only three unmarried virgin goddesses in the Greek world. The others were Athena, the goddess of war, and Hestia, the goddess of the hearth.

Although Artemis did not have any children of her own, she protected women during pregnancy and during childbirth.

Artemis was included in many ancient myths. In some myths, she helped people. For example, she healed the injured hero Aeneas. In contrast, Artemis was also known to punish those who made her angry, as explained later in this lesson with the case of the mortal woman Niobe.

Because of her close relationship to nature, Artemis was often symbolized with a bow and the moon. She also had a pack of hunting dogs that traveled with her. The dogs were a present from the god Pan.

Artemis was worshiped around the Greek world. One of her most famous temples was the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. She was known there as the Lady of Ephesus.

A statue of Artemis as the Lady of Ephesus

Artemis was shown with many breasts in statues at Ephesus. This depiction is very different from how Artemis was shown in Greece.

In addition to Greece, Artemis was also worshipped in the Roman world. Her Latin name was Diana, which means daylight.

Artemis Myths

There are many myths that include Artemis as a main character. Many Greek and Roman myths include different versions or endings in regard to the story of Artemis.

According to Greek mythology, Artemis was born on the island of either Ortygia or Delos. Her mother Leto was forced to go to an island to give birth to Artemis and her twin brother Apollo because of the goddess Hera. Hera was the wife of Artemis' father Zeus. Hera was angry that Leto was pregnant with Zeus' children. Some myths explain that Artemis was born first on Ortygia and then helped her mother to Delos. After that, she helped her mother give birth to Apollo.

Myths also include information about Artemis' childhood. In one myth, Zeus asked a young Artemis what gifts she would like. Artemis replied with a long list of requests, such as the desire to remain an unmarried virgin. She also asked for hunting equipment like a bow and a short dress that would allow her to run easily.

An example of Greek pottery showing Artemis

Artemis is shown with a bow and quiver in this ancient Greek pottery

Greek myths showed that the gods and goddesses had significant power. In some cases, they used their power to help humans. In other cases, these deities' jealousy and anger caused them to hurt humans.

Several myths involve Artemis' relationship with men and women. In some cases, Artemis punished those who angered her. This was the case in the myth of Actaeon, a young hunter. Actaeon saw Artemis when she was bathing. When he saw Artemis without clothes, she became angry and turned Actaeon into a stag. Once he was transformed, Actaeon's hunting dogs attacked and killed him. Another myth surrounds that of Sipriotes, a boy who spotted Artemis bathing. He begged for his life and Artemis let him live, but turned him into a girl.

Adonis was another young man who angered Artemis, resulting in his death. Adonis was a beautiful young man who went hunting in Artemis' woods. Artemis sent a wild boar to kill him.

Women were also punished for angering Artemis. In the myth of Chione, two gods fell in love with her. Chione was very proud of this accomplishment and claimed that she was more beautiful than Artemis. This boast angered Artemis, who killed Chione with her bow.

One famous myth included her friend Orion. Orion was the only male who was allowed to hunt with Artemis. In some versions of this myth, Orion attempted to rape Artemis. This resulted in Artemis killing Orion. In another version, Artemis' twin brother Apollo was jealous that Artemis loved Orion. He tricked Artemis into killing Orion.

Artemis also used her power to help humans. In the Trojan War, Artemis and her brother Apollo supported the Trojans. When the Trojan warrior Aeneas was wounded, she helped him heal.

Artemis Facts

  • Artemis came from a powerful family. Her father was Zeus, the king of the gods. Her mother, Leto, was a Titan. Apollo, the god of music, was her twin brother.
  • Artemis was the goddess of hunting, nature, and the moon. She carried a silver bow and hunted with a pack of dogs.
  • Artemis was also closely linked to women. She protected girls, pregnant women, and those in childbirth.
  • Young women who were preparing to get married gave some of their old toys as a gift to Artemis before the wedding. This gift was a rite of passage from child to woman.
  • Artemis used her power to help humans she liked, such as the hero Aeneas. In contrast, Artemis punished those who angered her, like the human Actaeon.
  • The ancient Greeks worshipped Artemis by building temples and sanctuaries. One of her most famous temples was the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. It was one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

Artemis Family

Artemis was the daughter of the god Zeus and the Titan Leto. The sky god Zeus was the powerful ruler of all Greek gods. Leto was the goddess of motherhood. When Leto became pregnant, Zeus' wife Hera was very angry. As a result, she chased Leto away before she gave birth. Leto was finally able to safely give birth on the island of Delos. In some versions of this myth, Artemis was born first on the island of Ortygia. After her birth, Artemis helped with the birth of her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos.

Although Artemis remained a virgin, she was associated as both the protector of young girls and of women giving birth. One way that historians know about her link to childbirth is an ancient Greek poem that contains a prayer to Artemis for help during childbirth.

Artemis' twin brother was the god Apollo, who was the god of music and medicine. Artemis and Apollo often worked together, such as in the myth of Niobe. Niobe was a mortal woman who boasted that she was a better mother than Leto because Niobe had more children. Artemis and Apollo considered this to be a serious insult to their mother's honor. As a result, they decided to kill all of Niobe's children as a punishment. Artemis killed all of Niobe's daughters and Apollo killed all of her sons.

Artemis Personality

Artemis' personality was influenced by her love of nature and hunting. She was represented in art and literature with her bow and her hunting dogs, and often with her short dress that made hunting easier.

One of Artemis' other major attributes was her virginity. Unlike most Greek women, Artemis remained unmarried and never had children. She was therefore known as chaste.

As a child, Artemis asked her father for nymphs to attend her. These young unmarried female deities were typically linked to nature, such as oceans and rivers. The nymphs were Artemis' attendants and took care of her hunting dogs and boots. Occasionally, these attendants angered her and were punished. In one famous example, Calisto, a young mortal attendant, was turned into a bear when Zeus made her pregnant.

The punishment of Calisto and many others shows that Artemis was capable of wrath. She punished those who insulted her family, like Niobe. She also punished those who threatened her virginity, like Orion.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who did Artemis turn into a girl?

Artemis was known for her modesty. A young man named Sipriotes saw her bathing. Because of this intrusion, Artemis turned him into a girl.

How did Artemis die?

Artemis is a fictional goddess in Greek mythology. Greek gods and goddesses were typically immortal, which means that they did not die. Artemis did not die in Greek mythology.

Who did Artemis love?

Artemis never married. In fact, she asked her father to let her remain a virgin. Some myths explain that she fell in love with the hunter Orion, but other myths explain that she killed him when he attempted to rape her.

What myth is Artemis famous for?

There are many important myths that include Artemis. One of the most famous is the myth of Niobe. In this myth, Artemis and Apollo killed all of Niobe's children to punish Niobe. Niobe's crime is that she boasted that she was better than Artemis' mother.

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