ARTEMIS was the great Olympian goddess of hunting, wild animals, children and birth.
This page contains stories of the wrath of Artemis directed against those who failed to pay her due honour and against the impious boasts of hunters. The most famous of these tales include:
1. King Oineus & the Kalydonian Boar
2. Agamemnon & the Sacrifice of Iphigeneia
The other two Wrath pages contain stories of a different theme.
|(3) WRATH DEFENDER OF DIVINE PRIVILEGE
|ADMETOS A King of Pherai in Thessalia (Northern Greece) who neglected to offer Artemis her dues in his matrimonial sacrifices. In wrath, she filled his bridal chambers with coiled serpents.
|ATREUS A King of Mykenai in the Argolis (Southern Greece) who failed to sacrifice to Artemis the best sheep of the herd which he had promised, for a golden lamb was born and in greed he kept it for himself. The goddess inflicted punishment upon his son Agamemnon, by sending storms or calm to prevent the Greek fleet from sailing to Troy. (In other versions of the story, Agamemnon himself earns her wrath).
|HIPPO or MELANIPPE A Nymph daughter of the centaur Kheiron, who scorned the worship of Artemis and was transformed by the goddess into a mare.
|OINEUS A King of Kalydon in Aitolia (Central Greece) who neglected the goddess Artemis in his dedication of the first fruits of the seasons to the gods. In wrath the goddess sent a gigantic boar to ravage his lands, destroying crops and slaying peasants. When it was slain by Prince Meleagros and his band of heroes, she incited conflict amongst the hunters, igniting a war between the Kalydonians and the neighbouring Kouretes tribe.
|KORINTHIANS, THE The people of Korinthos (in Southern Greece) turned Apollon and Artemis away when the pair came seeking purification for the slaying of the Python. The gods in their wrath brought a deadly plague down upon the city until appeased by the supplications of seven youths and seven maidens.
|(4) WRATH HUNTERS
|ADONIS A Prince and hunter of the island of Kypros (in the Eastern Meditteranean) who offended tArtemis (perhaps by boasts of superior hunting prowess) and was slain by the goddess on the tusks of a wild boar.
|AGAMEMNON A King of Mykenai (in Southern Greece) and leader of the Greek fleet for Troy. He offended the goddess Artemis by boasting that he was superior to her in hunting skill. In wrath, she sent stormy winds to prevent the Greek fleet from sailing, relinquishing her anger only when the king offered up his own daughter as sacrifice.
|ANKAIOS A Prince of Arkadia (in Southern Greece) who during the hunt for the Kalydonian Boar boasted that not even the goddess Artemis could prevent him from slaying the beast. She was wroth and drove the boar to slay him with its tusks.
|BROTEAS A Prince of Lydia (in Asia Minor), who like his father (Tantalos) and sister (Niobe) incurred the wrath of the gods. In Broteas' case, he was a skilled hunter who scorned the goddess Artemis (perhaps even boasting that he was superior to her in hunting). She drove him mad as punishment, causing him throw himself into a fire.
|ORION A Gigante of Delos or Krete (Island in the Greek Aegean) who was slain by Artemis because he boasted to be superior to the goddess in hunting. (This was but one of many versions of the story).
|PHALAIKOS A King of Ambrakia in Epeiros (North-Western Greece) who was slain by a lion sent by Artemis, as punishment for some offence.
ARTEMIS WRATH: ADMETOS
LOCALE: Pherai, Thessalia (Northern Greece)
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 105 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"While making his matrimonial sacrifices, Admetos forget to include on for Artemis. Consequently, when he opened the door to the bridal chamber, he found it full of the coils of serpents. Apollon told him how to propitiate the goddess."
ARTEMIS WRATH: HIPPO OR MELANIPPE
LOCALE: Mt Pelion, Thessaly (Northern Greece)
Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis 260 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Nor let any shun the yearly dance [of Artemis]; for not tearless to Hippo was her refusal to dance around the altar."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 18 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Callimachus [Greek poet C3rd BC] says that because she [Melanippe daughter of Kheiron] ceased hunting and worshipping Diana [Artemis], Diana changed her into the shape we have mentioned [a mare]. For the reason above, too, she is said to be out of sight [as the constellation "Pegasus"] of the Centaur, who come say is Chiron, and to show only half her body, since she didn’t want her sex to be known."
ARTEMIS WRATH: OINEUS
LOCALE: Kalydon, Aitolia (Central Greece)
Homer, Iliad 9. 530 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"The Kouretes and the steadfast Aitolians were fighting and slaughtering one another about the city of Kalydon, the Aitolians in lovely Kalydon’s defence, the Kouretes furious to storm and sack it in war. For Artemis golden-throned (khrysothronos) had driven this evil upon them, angered that Oineus had not given the pride of the orchards to her, first fruits; the rest of the gods were given due sacrifice, but alone to this daughter of great Zeus he had given nothing. He had forgotten, or had not thought, in his hard delusion, and in wrath at his whole mighty line the Lady of Arrows (iokheaira) sent upon them the fierce wild Boar with the shining teeth, who after the way of his kind did much evil to the orchards of Oineus. For he ripped up whole tall trees from the ground and scattered them headlong roots and all, even to the very flowers of the orchard. The son of Oineus killed this boar, Meleagros, assembling together many hunting men out of numerous cities with their hounds; since the Boar might not have been killed by a few men, so huge was he, and had put many men on the sad fire for burning. But the goddess again made a great stir of anger and crying battle, over the head of the boar and the bristling boar’s hide, between Kouretes [an Aitolian tribe] and the high-hearted Aitolians."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 66 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Oineus [king of Kalydon] was offering his annual sacrifice of the first fruits of the land to all the gods, he overlooked Artemis. The wrathful goddess let loose a great and powerful wild boar, which made the earth unsowable and destroyed herds and people that encountered it. In order to get rid of this boar, Oineus called together all the best men of Hellas and proclaimed the skin as a trophy to the man who could slay it [and it was slain by the heroes of the Kalydonian Boar Hunt]."
Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis 259 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) : "Let none disparage Artemis. For Oineus dishonoured her altar and no pleasant struggles came upon his city."
Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 2 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Once when he [Oineus king of Kalydon] was sacrificing first-fruits on behalf of his country, he forgot about Artemis. In her anger she set on them a savage Boar that ravaged the land slaying many. Then Meleagros and the son of Thestios assembled the flower of Greece against the Boar. They arrived and slew the beast.
Meleagros assigned the flesh of the boar to the heroes, keeping the head and the hide as his privilege. Because they had slain a Boar sacred to her, Artemis was even more angry and inflicted discord among them. So the sons of Thestios and the other Kouretes seized the hide declaring that it was the half-share of the perquisites due to them [war then broke out between the two camps]."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 18. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The goddess was surnamed Laphria [at Kalydon, Aitolia] . . . [because] the wrath of Artemis against Oineus weighed as time went on more lightly (elaphroteron) on the Kalydonians."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 34. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Once when Oineus had an excellent crop of grain, he offered sacrifices to the other gods, but neglected Artemis alone; and angered at him for this the goddess sent forth against him the famous Kalydonian Boar, a creature of enormous size. This animal harried the neighbouring land and damaged the farms; whereupon Meleagros, the son of Oineus, being then in the bloom of youth and excelling in strength and in courage, took along with himself many of the bravest men and set out to hunt the beast."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 172 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Oeneus. Since Oeneus, son of Porthaon, king of Aetolia, had made sacrifices yearly to all the gods, but had omitted Diana [Artemis], she, in anger, sent a Boar of immense size to lay waste the district of Calydon. Then Meleager, son of Oeneus, promised that he would go with chosen leaders to attack it."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 174 :
"The wrath of Diana [Artemis] sent a Boar of huge size to lay waste the district of Calydon, because Oeneus had not made yearly offerings to her. Meleager, with the help of chosen youths of Greece, killed it, and gave the hide to the virgin Atalanta because of her valour Ideus, Plexippus, Lynceus, brothers of Althaea, wished to take it from her. When she asked the help of Meleager, he intervened, and putting love before family relationship, killed his uncles."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 7 :
"He [Orpheus] praised the children of the gods in his song, all except Father Liber [Dionysos]; him he overlooked and forgot, as Oeneus did Diana [Artemis] in sacrifice."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 8. 269 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"His [Theseus'] aid even Calydon, who owned her Meleager, in distress and begged and besought - the cause of her distress a Boar, Diana's [Artemis'] Boar, her instrument of enmity and vengeance. For the king, Oeneus, it’s said, when plenty blessed the year, to Ceres [Demeter] gave the first-fruits of the corn, to Lyaeus [Dionysos] poured his wine, to golden-haired Minverva [Athene] her oil from her own holy tree. The prized oblations, given first to gods of farm and field, reached all the gods of heaven. Only Latois' [Artemis] altars (so men say) were left uncensed, unserviced and ignored. The gods feel anger to.
‘This shall not pass unpunished. No!’ she cried, ‘I may be seen unhonoured, true, but never unavenged!’
The smarting goddess sent a giant Boar, huge as the bulls that grassy Epiros breeds, dwarfing the bulls of fertile Sicula (Sicily); his eyes ablaze with fire and blood; his neck solid and steep; his bristles long and sharp, rigid as spearshafts; his broad sweeping flanks flecked, as he hissed and snorted, with hot foam. His mouth flashed lightning and his burning breath seared the green leaves. Now the young growing corn he trampled in the blade, and now cut short the harvest in the ear, and laid ruin to the farmers’ ripened hopes. In vain the threshers, in vain the barns await the promised crop. Down fall the heavy grapes, the trailing vine, down fall the olive’s berries, down the boughs. Flocks too he savages, beyond the help of dogs or shepherds, nor can bulls, fierce bulls defend their herds. The people fled; they felt no safety save within a city’s walls till Meleager and his heroes came, a chosen band, all fired by hopes of fame . . .
[During the Hunt, Artemis intervented to defend her boar.] The spear [of Mopsos] struck [the boar] - but made no wound. There in mid flight Diana [Artemis] stole the steel, the wooden shaft arrived without its point. Now the boar’s anger flashed like lightning; flames blazed from his eyes; flames issued from his throat . . .
The Arcadian [Ankaios] with his double-axe, raging for doom beyond his destiny, cried ‘Learn how far the weapons of a man surpass a girl’s and leave this task to me! Even though Latonia [Artemis] shields him from the blow, despite Diana [Artemis], mine shall lay him low!’ Such was Ancaeus’ braggart brazen boast, and raising in both hands his double axe he balanced on his feet and stood tiptoe. Brave and bold! but the beast struck first and plunged both tusks high in his groin, the shortest road to death, and down he fell and, disembowelled, his guts gushed out and soaked the ground with gore."
Statius, Thebaid 2. 469 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"The famous champion [the Kalydonian Boar] of Oenean Diana [Artemis], with bristles stiff and lightning stroke of tusked jaw."
Seneca, Troades 827 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Pleuron, which the virgin goddess [Artemis] hates . . . Calydon, famed for the wild boar [sent by the goddess]."
ARTEMIS WRATH: THE KORINTHIANS
LOCALE: Korinthos (Southern Greece)
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 7. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"When Apollon and Artemis had killed Python they came to Aigialea [Korinth-Sikyon] to obtain purification. Dread came upon them [and they turned the gods away] . . . and the people of Aigialea were smitten by a plague. When the seers bade them propitiate Apollon and Artemis, they sent seven boys and seven maidens as suppliants to the river Sythas. They say that the deities, persuaded by these, came to what was then the citadel, and the place that they reached first is the sanctuary of Peitho (Persuasion)."
ARTEMIS WRATH: ADONIS
LOCALE: Kypros (Eastern Meditteranean)
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 183 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"While Adonis [the love of Aphrodite] was still a boy, because of Artemis’ anger he was wounded by a boar during a hunt and died."
ARTEMIS WRATH: AGAMEMNON & ATREUS
LOCALE: Aulis, Boiotia (Central Greece)
Stasinus of Cyprus or Hegesias of Aegina, Cypria Fragment 1 (from Proclus, Chrestomathy 1) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"This is continued by the epic called Cypria which is current is eleven books. Its contents are as follows. When the expedition [for Troy] had mustered a second time at Aulis, Agamemnon, while at the chase, shot a stag and boasted that he surpassed even Artemis. At this the goddess was so angry that she sent stormy winds and prevented them from sailing. Kalkhas then told them of the anger of the goddess and bade them sacrifice Iphigeneia to Artemis. This they attempt to do, sending to fetch Iphigeneia as though for marriage with Akhilleus. Artemis, however, snatched her away and transported her to the Tauroi, making her immortal, and put a stag in place of the girl upon the altar."
Aeschylus, Agamemnon 122 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"[Kalkhas interprets a portent, explaining the adverse gales sent by Artemis to delay the Greek fleet:] ‘In her pity, holy (hagnê) Artemis is angry at the winged hounds of her father [two eagles representing Agamemnon and Menelaus], for they sacrifice a wretched timorous thing, together with her young, before she has brought them forth. An abomination to her is the eagles' feast . . . Although, O Lovely One [Artemis], you are so gracious to the tender whelps of fierce lions, and take delight in the suckling young of every wild creature that roams the field, promise that the issue be brought to pass in accordance with these signs, portents auspicious yet filled with ill. And I implore Paian [Apollon], the healer, that she may not raise adverse gales with long delay to stay the Danaan fleet from putting forth.’"
Aeschylus, Agamemnon 183 ff :
"[Agamemnon] the captain of the Akhaian ships, the elder of the two – holding no seer at fault, bending to the adverse blasts of fortune, when the Akhaian folk, on the shore over against Khalkis in the region where Aulis' tides surge to and fro, were very distressed by opposing winds and failing stores. The breezes that blew from the Strymon, bringing harmful leisure, hunger, and tribulation of spirit in a cruel port, idle wandering of men, and sparing neither ship nor cable, began, by doubling the season of their stay, to rub away and wither the flower of Argos; and when the seer, pointing to Artemis as cause, proclaimed to the chieftains another remedy, more oppressive even than the bitter storm, so that the sons of Atreus struck the ground with their canes and did not stifle their tears – Then the elder king spoke and said: ‘It is a hard fate to refuse obedience, and hard, if I must slay my child [Iphigeneia], the glory of my home, and at the altar-side stain a father's hand with streams of virgin's blood. Which of these courses is not filled with evil? How can I become a deserter to my fleet and fail my allies in arms? For that they should with all too impassioned passion crave a sacrifice to lull the winds – even a virgin's blood – stands within their right. May all be for the best.’
But when he had donned the yoke of Necessity (ananke), with veering of mind, impious, unholy, unsanctified, from that moment he changed his intention and began to conceive that deed of uttermost audacity. For wretched delusion, counsellor of ill, primal source of woe, makes mortals bold. So then he hardened his heart to sacrifice his daughter so that he might further a war waged to avenge a woman, and as an offering for the voyage of a fleet!
For her supplications, her cries of ‘Father,’ and her virgin life, the commanders in their eagerness for war cared nothing. Her father, after a prayer, bade his ministers lay hold of her as, enwrapped in her robes, she lay fallen forward, and with stout heart to raise her, as if she were a young goat, high above the altar; and with a gag upon her lovely mouth to hold back the shouted curse against her house – by the bit's strong and stifling might.
Then, as she shed to earth her saffron robe, she struck each of her sacrificers with a glance from her eyes beseeching pity, looking as if in a picture, wishing she could speak; for she had often sung where men met at her father's hospitable table, and with her virgin voice would lovingly honor her dear father's prayer for blessing at the third libation."
Aeschylus, Iphigeneia (lost play) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
Part of a lost Aeschylean trilogy the Iphigeneia probably described the heroine's sacrifice to Artemis at Aulis.
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E2. 10 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Atreus [father of Agamemnon] once told Artemis in a prayer that he would sacrifice his finest sheep to her, but they say that when a golden lamb appeared in his flocks, he was heedless of his vow. Instead, he throttled the lamb and put it in a chest for safekeeping [Artemis' wrath was inflicted on Agamemnon the son of Atreus, who demanded the sacrifice of his daughter before she would let the Greek fleet sail to Troy - see below]."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E3. 21 :
"After leaving Argos and sailing for the second time to Aulis, weather held the [Greek] fleet [sailing for Troy] in port. Kalkhas announced that they would not be able to sail unless the most beautiful of Agamemnon’s daughters was offered as a sacrificial victim to Artemis; for the goddess was angry at Agamemnon because, after shooting a deer, he had boasted that ‘not even Artemis’ could have shot so well, and because Atreus [his father] had not sacrificed to her his golden lamb. So Agamemnon sent Odysseus and Talthybios to Klytaimnestra and asked for Iphigeneia, saying that he had promised to give her in marriage to Akhilleus as payment for his military service. When his wife had sent Iphigeneia, Agamemnon placed her on the altar and was about to sacrifice her when Artemis spirited her off to the Taurians, where she set her up as her own priestess; she put a deer on the altar in the girl’s place. Also, according to some, she made Iphigeneia immortal."
Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis 260 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Nor let any contend with her [Artemis] in shooting of stags or in archery. For the son of Atreus [Agamemnon] vaunted him not that he suffered small requital."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 19. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Here [at Aulis, Boiotia] there is a temple of Artemis . . . The story is that when, in obedience to the soothsaying of Kalkhas, the Greeks were about to sacrifice Iphigeneia on the altar, the goddess substituted a deer to be the victim instead of her. They preserve in the temple what still survives of the plane-tree mentioned by Homer in the Iliad. The story is that the Greeks were kept at Aulis by contrary winds, and when suddenly a favouring breeze sprang up, each sacrificed to Artemis the victim he had to hand, female and male alike."
Pseudo-Plutarch, Greek and Roman Parallel Stories 14 (trans. Babbitt) (Greek historian C2nd A.D.) :
"The fate of Iphigeneia at Aulis in Boiotia Menyllos relates in the first book of his Boiotian History."
Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 5 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"At his arrival at Aulis, Agamemnon shot with an arrow wild goat sacred to Artemis; the Greeks finding it impossible to set sail, Kalkhas predicted that the prodigy would cease if Agamemnon sacrified his daughter Iphigenia to Poseidon; when he refused, the angry Greeks removed his command and nominated Palamedes king [presumably until Agamemnon relented]."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 12. 8 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The commonwealth of Greece, a thousand ships leagued and allied [assembled at Aulis], and vengeance would have fallen forthwith [on Troy], had stormy wings not made the sea unassailable and held the chafing fleet at fish-famed Aulis in Boeota’s bay . . . Storming amid the Aoniae’s main Nereus opposed war's passage. Some believed Neptunus [Poseidon] was sparing Troia because he’d built her battlements. Not so Thestorides [Kalkhas], for he knew and announced that by a virgin’s blood the Virgin's [Artemis'] wrath must be appeased. Then love yielded to public weal, the father to the king: Iphigenia stood to give her chaste life-blood amid the weeping priests before the altar. Yielding at last, the goddess drew a mist before their eyes, and in the turmoil of the ceremony, the chants and prayers, in place of the princess the tale is told Diana [Artemis] set a hind. Appeased then by that seemly sacrifice, her divine anger and the ocean’s rage alike subsided, and those thousand ships welcomed the wind abaft and reached at last after much suffering the shores of Troy."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 13. 182 ff :
"Aulis Euboica’s harbour held a thousand ships, they waited long, but long the wind was still or contrary, and then the harsh oracle bade Agamemnon sacrifice his child, his innocent child, to merciless Diana [Artemis]. Her father, furious with the gods themselves, refused - the king indeed, but father too - until I [Odysseus] turned his loving heart to thoughts of public policy - a plea, I grant (and may the king forgive my granting it) most difficult before a biased judge. Yet interests of state, his brother's honour, his sceptre's trust and duty bade him weigh glory against that blood."
& THE BOAR
ARTEMIS WRATH: ANKAIOS
LOCALE: Kalydon, Aitolia (Central Greece)
Ovid, Metamorphoses 8. 269 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[During the Hunt of the Kalydonian Boar:] The Arcadian [hunter Ankaios] with his double-axe, raging for doom beyond his destiny, cried ‘Learn how far the weapons of a man surpass a girl’s and leave this task to me! Even though Latonia [Artemis] shields him from the blow, despite Diana [Artemis], mine shall lay him low!’ Such was Ancaeus’ braggart brazen boast, and raising in both hands his double axe he balanced on his feet and stood tiptoe. Brave and bold! but the beast struck first and plunged both tusks high in his groin, the shortest road to death, and down he fell and, disembowelled, his guts gushed out and soaked the ground with gore."
ARTEMIS WRATH: BROTEAS
LOCALE: Mt Sipylos, Lydia (Asia Minor)
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E2. 2 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Broteas [son of Tantalos], though a huntsman, did not pay honour to Artemis. He said that he would not even suffer anything from fire. So he went mad and immolated himself."
ARTEMIS WRATH: PHALAIKOS
LOCALE: Ambrakia, Epeiros (Northern Greece)
The story is told by Antoninus Liberalis in the fourth book of his Metamorphoses (not currently quoted here).
- Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
- Homerica, The Cypria - Greek Epic BC
- Aeschylus, Agamemnon - Greek Tragedy C5th BC
- Aeschylus, Fragments - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
- Plutarch, Parallel Stories - Greek Historian C1st-2nd AD
- Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History - Greek Scholar C1st-2nd AD
- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd AD
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
- Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
- Seneca, Troades - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
- Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st AD