Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Artemis from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

The Greek goddess identified by the Romans with the Italian goddess DIANA. She was said to be the daughter of ZEUS and LETO and the twin sister of APOLLO. She was a virgin huntress, associated with uncultivated places and wild animals, and was also a primitive birth-goddess. She brought natural death with her arrows. The biblical reference to the Temple of Diana of the Ephesians (Acts 19) is really to the Artemisium at Ephesus, one of the SEVEN WONDERS of the Ancient World. A statue of her there was covered all over with breasts to mark her connection with childbirth. Her name has been associated with Greek artemia, ‘safety’, ‘soundness’, alluding to her virginity.


Summary Article: Artemis
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Greek mythology, the goddess of chastity, all young creatures, the Moon, and the hunt (Roman Diana). She was the daughter of Zeus and the Titaness Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was worshipped at cult centres throughout the Greek world; one of the largest was at Ephesus where her great temple, reconstructed several times in antiquity, was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Development of her worship Artemis was initially an earth goddess associated with wildlife, crop fertility, and human birth in pre-Hellenic Greece, Asia Minor, and Crete; she had no early connection with Apollo, who was also of non-Hellenic origin. Influenced by myth and legend as described by Homer, she evolved into a virgin huntress, although her original position as universal mother continued to be represented by the many-breasted figure in her temple at Ephesus, and she remained a goddess of childbirth.

In historic times, a number of places claimed to possess the statue of Artemis, an image stolen by Iphigenia, whom Artemis had rescued from sacrifice. As a priestess in the goddess's temple at Tauris (the Crimea), Iphigenia's duties had included the sacrificial killing of strangers. Later, rites at those temples laying claim to the statue also exhibited vestiges of human sacrifice. These included Brauron, where throat-cutting was symbolized in the presence of the goddess, and Sparta, where boys were flogged in the ritual of Artemis Orthia.

Associated deities She is often identified with two other goddesses linked with the Moon: Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and magic, and the Titaness Selene who drove the Moon's chariot across the sky.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article Artemis
Who's Who in Classical Mythology, Routledge

She was believed to roam the mountains with a band of attendant nymphs and to resent the intrusion of any who would interfere with her...

Full text Article Diana (Greek 'Artemis'.)
The Bloomsbury Guide to Art

One of the 12 gods and goddesses of Olympus, the twin sister of Apollo . As virgin huntress she is portrayed as an athletically-built...

Full text Article Artemis
Who's Who in the New Testament, Routledge

The great goddess of the Ephesians, whose name and cult were the oriental equivalent of the Roman huntress-goddess, Diana. Artemis was...

See more from Credo