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Artemis | Greco-Roman marble statue | Istanbul Archaeology Museums
Artemis, Greco-Roman marble statue, Istanbul Archaeology Museums

ARTEMIS was the Olympian goddess of hunting and wild animals, and the protectress of women and girls.

This page describes her cult in central and northern Greece and the Aegean islands. Her most important shrines in the region were arguably that of Amarynthos in Euboia and Kalydon (Calydon) in Aitolia. In the Aegean the sanctuary of Apollon on Delos contained an important cult of the goddess. The Cretans also held Artemis in particular regard and she was sometimes described as their patron deity.



I. THEBES Main City of Boeotia (Boiotia)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 17. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[In Thebes] is the temple of Artemis Eukleia (of Fair Fame). The image was made by Skopas. They say that within the sanctuary were buried Androkleia and Aleis, daughters of Antipoinos. For when Herakles and the Thebans were about to engage in battle with the Orkhomenians, an oracle was delivered to them that success in the war would be theirs if their citizen of the most noble descent would consent to die by his own hand. Now Antipoinos, who had the most famous ancestors, was loath to die for the people, but his daughters were quite ready to do so. So they took their own lives and are honored therefor. Before the temple of Artemis Eukleia (of Fair Fame) is a lion made of stone, said to have been dedicated by Herakles after he had conquered in the battle the Orkhomenians and their king, Erginos son of Klymenos."

II. AULIS Town in Boeotia

Theognis, Fragment 1. 11 (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac) (Greek elegy C6th B.C.) :
"Artemis, slayer of wild beasts, daughter of Zeus, for whom Agamemnon set up a temple [at Aulis] when he was preparing to sail on his swift ships to Troy, give ear to my prayers and ward off the evil Keres (Death-Spirits). For you, goddess, this is no small thing, but for me it is critical."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 19. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Here [at Aulis, Boiotia] there is a temple of Artemis with two images of white marble; one carries torches, and the other is like to one shooting an arrow. 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. From that time the rule has held good at Aulis that oil victims are permissible. There is also shown the spring, by which the plane-tree grew, and on a hill near by the bronze threshold of Agamemnon's tent. In front of the sanctuary grow palm-trees, the fruit of which, though not wholly edible like the dates of Palestine, yet are riper than those of Ionia."

For the MYTH of Artemis & Iphigeneia see Artemis Favour : Iphigeneia

III. TANAGRA Village in Boeotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 20. 1 :
"Within the territory of Tanagra [in Boiotia] is what is called Delion on Sea [temple of the gods of Delos, Artemis, Apollon and Leto]. In it are images of Artemis and Leto."

IV. CYRTONES (KYRTONES) Village in Boeotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 24. 4 :
"[At Kyrtones, Boiotia there is] a temple and grove of Apollon. There are also standing images of Apollon and Artemis."

V. PLATAEA (PLATAIA) Town in Boeotia

Plutarch, Life of Aristides 20. 4 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"In admiration of him [an historical war-hero] the Plataians gave him burial in the sanctuary of Artemis Eukleia, and inscribed upon his tomb this tetrameter verse:--Eukhidas, to Pytho running, came back here the selfsame day.
Now Eukleia is regarded by most as Artemis, and is so addressed; but some say she was a daughter of Herakles and of that Myrto who was daughter of Menoitios and sister of Patroklos, and that, dying in virginity, she received divine honors among the Boiotians and Lokrians. For she has an altar and an image built in every market place, and receives preliminary sacrifices from would-be brides and bridegrooms [i.e. as the goddess of good repute]."


I. AMARYNTHUS (AMARYNTHOS) Village in Euboea (Euboia)

Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis 183 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Which now of islands . . . finds most favour with thee [Artemis]? What haven? . . . the havens of Euripos [probably Aulis and Amarynthos]."

Callimachus, Iambi Fragment 6a (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"[Artemis Kolainis] whom Agamemnon, as the legend tells, established--the goddess to whom the tailless and the one-eyed are sacrificed."

Callimachus, Iambi Fragment 6b (from Scholiast on Aristophanes the Birds 873) :
"Euphronios says that in Amarythos [in Euboia] Artemis was worshipped as Kolainis (Hornless), because Agamemnon sacrificed to her a hornless ram made of wax."

Strabo, Geography 10. 1. 10 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The village Amarynthos, which is seven stadia distant from the walls [of Eretria in Euboia], belongs to this city . . . As for the power the Eretrians once had, this is evidenced by the pillar which they once set up in the temple of Artemis Amarynthia. It was inscribed thereon that they made their festal procession with three thousand heavy-armed soldiers, six hundred horsemen, and sixty chariots. And they ruled over the peoples of Andros, Teos, Keos, and other islands."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 31. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Amarynthos is a town in Euboia, the inhabitants of which worship [Artemis] Amarysia, while the festival of Amarysia which the Athenians celebrate is no less splendid than the Euboian."

Aelian, On Animals 12. 34 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"The people of Eretria [in Euboia] sacrifice maimed animals to Artemis at Amarynthos."


Herodotus, Histories 7. 176 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"[The cape of] Artemision is where the wide Thrakian sea contracts until the passage between the island of Skiathos and the mainland of Magnesia is but narrow. This strait leads next to Artemision, which is a beach on the coast of Euboia, on which stands a temple of Artemis [off the coast of which the Persian fleet was destroyed]."

Herodotus, Histories 8. 77 :
"I cannot say against oracles that they are not true, and I do not wish to try to discredit them when they speak plainly. Look at the following matter [an oracle prophesying the outcome of the Persian War] : ‘When the sacred headland of Khrysaoros (Golden-Sworded) Artemis and Kynosoura by the sea they bridge with ships, after sacking shiny Athens in mad hope . . . Bronze will come together with bronze, and Ares will redden the sea with blood.’"

Plutarch, Life of Themistocles 8. 1 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"Artemision is a part of Euboia above Hestiaia,--a sea-beach stretching away to the north . . . It has a small temple of Artemis surnamed Proseoia, which is surrounded by trees and enclosed by upright slabs of white marble. This stone, when you rub it with your hand, gives off the color and the odor of saffron. On one of these slabs the following elegy was inscribed:--‘Nations of all sorts of men from Asia's boundaries coming, sons of the Athenians once, here on this arm of the sea, whelmed in a battle of ships, and the host of the Medes [i.e. the Persians] was destroyed; these are the tokens thereof, built for the Maid Artemis.’"


I. DELPHI (DELPHOI) Town & Sanctuary in Phocis (Phokis)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 11. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The Knidians brought the following images to Delphoi : Triopas, founder of Knidos, standing by a horse, Leto, and Apollon and Artemis shooting arrows at Tityos, who has already been wounded in the body."

II. LILAEA (LILAIA) Village in Phocis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 33. 4 :
"In Lilaia [in Phokis] are also a theater, a market-place and baths. There is also a sanctuary of Apollon, and one of Artemis. the images are standing, of Attic workmanship, and of marble from the Pentelic quarries."

III. HYAMPOLIS Village in Phocis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 35. 7 :
"Above all other divinities they [the people of Hyampolis in Phokis] worship Artemis, of whom they have a temple. The image of her I cannot describe, for their rule is to open the sanctuary twice, and not more often, every year. They say that whatever cattle they consecrate to Artemis grow up immune to disease and fatter than other cattle."


Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 36. 5 :
"The road to Antikyra [in Phokis] is at first up-hill. About two stades up the slope is a level place, and on the right of the road is a sanctuary of Artemis surnamed Diktynnaia (Of the Nets), a goddess worshipped with great reverence by citizens. The image is of Aiginetan workmanship, and made of a black stone. From the sanctuary of Diktynnaia the road is downhill all the way to Antikyra. They say that in days of old the name of the city was Kyparissos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 37. 1 :
"About two stades off the city [of Antikyra or Kyparissos in Phokis] there is, on the right, a high rock, which forms part of a mountain, with a sanctuary of Artemis built upon it. The image of Artemis is one of the works of Praxiteles; she carries a torch in her right hand and a quiver over her shoulders, while at her left side there is a dog. The image is taller than the tallest woman."

V. BULIS (BOULIS) Village in Phocis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 37. 3 :
"The buildings in Boulis [in Phokis] are not very wonderful; among them is a sanctuary of Artemis and one of Dionysos. The images are made of wood, but we were unable to judge who was the artist."

VI. CIRRHA (KIRRHA) Village in Phocis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 37. 8 :
"Kirrha [in Phokis] is the port of Delphoi. Its notable sights include a temple of Apollon, Artemis and Leto, with very large images of Attic workmanship."

VII. OIANTHEIA Village in Phocis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 38. 9 :
"A little beyond the city [of Oiantheia in Phokis] there is a grove of cypress-trees mixed with pines; in the grove is a temple of Artemis with an image. The paintings on the walls I found had lost their color with time, and nothing of them was still left worth seeing."


I. AMPHISSA Main Town of Locris (Lokris)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 38. 6 :
"In the sanctuary of Artemis Ephesia (of Ephesos) [at Amphissa in Phokis], as you enter the building containing the pictures, there is a stone wall above the altar of Artemis called Protothronie (Goddess of the First Throne). Among the images that stand upon the wall is a statue of a woman at the end, a work of Rhoikos, called by the Ephesians Night (Nyx)."


Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 38. 12 :
"Here there is on the coast [near Naupaktos] . . . a sanctuary of Artemis with an image of white marble. She is in the attitude of one hurling a javelin, and is surnamed Aitolia (of Aitolia)."


I. CALYDON (KALYDON) Main City of Aetolia (Aitolia)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 31. 7 :
"Among the people of Kalydon, Artemis, who was worshipped by them above all the gods, had the title Laphria, and the Messenians who received Naupaktos from the Athenians, being at that time close neighbours of the Aitolians, adopted her from the people of Kalydon. I will describe her appearance in another place. The name Laphria spread only to the Messenians and to the Akhaians of Patrai."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 18. 8 :
"On the acropolis of Patrai [in Akhaia] is a sanctuary of Artemis Laphria. The surname of the goddess is a foreign one, and her image too was brought in from elsewhere. For after Kalydon with the rest of Aitolia had been laid waste by the Emperor Augustus in order that the Aitolian people might be incorporated into Nikopolis above Aktion, the people of Patrai thus secured the image of Laphria. Most of the images out of Aitolia and from Akarnania were brought by Augustus' orders to Nikopolis, but to Patrai he gave, with other spoils from Kalydon, the image of Laphria, which even in my time was still worshipped on the acropolis of Patrai. It is said that the goddess was surnamed Laphria after a man of Phokis, because the ancient image of Artemis was set up at Kalydon by Laphrios, the son of Kastalios, the son of Delphos. Others say that the wrath of Artemis against Oineus weighed as time went on more lightly (elaphroteron) on the Kalydonians, and they believe that this was why the goddess received her surname. The image represents her in the guise of a huntress; it is made of ivory and gold, and the artists were Menaikhmos and Soldas of Naupaktos, who, it is inferred, lived not much later than Kanakhos of Sikyon and Kallon of Aegina. Every year too the people of Patrai celebrate the festival Laphria in honor of their Artemis. [Pausanias continues with a description of the Patrai cult, see Cult of Artemis in Akhaia (prevaious page).]"


I. PHERAE (PHERAI) Main Town of Pherae in Thessaly (Thessalia)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 23. 5 :
"The Argives, like the Athenians and Sikyorians, worship Artemis Pheraia, and they, too, assert that the image of the goddess was brought from Pherai in Thessalia."


Artemis-Diana | Greco-Roman marble statue | Pergamonmuseum, Berlin
Artemis-Diana, Greco-Roman marble statue, Pergamonmuseum

I. DELOS Main Town of Delos

Homeric Hymn 3 to Delian Apollo 160 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"The girls of Delos . . . when they have praised Apollon first, and also Leto and Artemis Iokheira (who delights in arrows), they sing a strain telling of men and women of past days."

Homerica, Contest of Homer and Hesiod 325 (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic B.C.) :
"The Delians wrote the poem [i.e. Homeric Hymn to Apollo] on a whitened tablet and dedicated it in the temple of Artemis."

Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis 170 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"But when the maidens (nymphai) encircle thee in the dance, near the springs of Aigyptian Inopos [on the island of Delos] . . . the lights of day are lengthened [i.e. in mid-summer]."

Callimachus, Epigrams 63 (from A.P. 6. 121) :
"Ye goats of Kynthos [mountain of Delos], be of good cheer! For now the bow of Kretan Ekhemmas is laid up in Ortygia [Delos] in the temple of Artemis,--that bow wherewith he made the great hill empty of you. But now he hath ceased, ye goats, since the goddess hath wrought a truce."

Strabo, Geography 10. 5. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"From olden times, beginning with the times of the heroes, Delos has been revered because of its gods, for the myth is told that there Leto was delivered of her travail by the birth of Apollon and Artemis . . . The neighboring islands, called the Kyklades, made it famous, since in its honor they would send at public expense sacred envoys, sacrifices, and choruses composed of virgins, and would celebrate great general festivals there [i.e. in honour of Apollon, Artemis and Leto]."


I. NAXOS Main Town of Naxos

Parthenius, Love Romances 9 (trans. Gaselee) (Greek poet C1st B.C.) :
"Once the men of Miletos made an expedition against the Naxians [historical] with strong allies . . . By the providence of some god, a maiden named Polykrite had been left in the temple of the Delian goddess near the [Naxian] city: and she captured by her beauty the love of Diognetos, the leader of the Erythraians, who was fighting on the side of the Milesians . . . Constrained by the strength of his desire, he kept sending messages to her (for it would have been impiety to ravish her by force in the very shrine); at first she would not listen to his envoys, but when she saw his persistence she said that she would never consent unless he swore to accomplish whatever wish she might express. Diognetos had no suspicion of what she was going to exact, and eagerly swore by Artemis that he would perform her every behest: and after he had taken the oath, Polykrite seized his hand and claimed that he should betray the blockade [of the Naxian town]."


Arctinus of Miletus, The Aethiopis Fragment 1 (from Proclus Chrestomathia 2) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Akhilleus [after slaying Thersites for insulting him] sails to Lesbos and after sacrificing to Apollon, Artemis and Leto [i.e. at their shrine on the island], is purified by Odysseus from bloodshed."


Strabo, Geography 13. 2. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"In the strait between Asia and Lesbos there are about twenty small islands . . . They are called Hekatonnesoi (Islands of Hekatos and Hekate) . . . which means Apollonnesoi (Islands of Apollon), for Apollon is called Hekatos [and Artemis, Hekate]. Near these is Pordoselene [the largest of the islands], which contains a city of the same name, and also, in front of this city, another island, larger and of the same name, which is uninhabited and has a temple sacred to Apollon [and presumably Artemis and Leto as well]."


I. SAMOS Main Town of Samos

Herodotus, Histories 3. 48 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"Periander [tyrant of Korinthos C7th B.C.] sent to Alyattes at Sardis three hundred boys, sons of notable men in Korkyra, to be made eunuchs. The Korinthians who brought the boys put in at Samos; and when the Samians heard why the boys were brought, first they instructed them to take sanctuary in the temple of Artemis, then they would not allow the suppliants to be dragged from the temple; and when the Korinthians tried to starve the boys out, the Samians held a festival which they still celebrate in the same fashion; throughout the time that the boys were seeking asylum, they held nightly dances of young men and women to which it was made a custom to bring cakes of sesame and honey, so that the Korkyraian boys might snatch these and have food. This continued to be done until the Korinthian guards left their charge and departed; then the Samians took the boys back to Korkyra."


Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis 255 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Khesias (Lady of Khesion) [in Samos] and Imbrasia (Lady of Imbrasos) [River in Samos], throned in the highest, to thee in thy shrine did Agamemnon dedicate the rudder of his ship, a charm against ill weather, when thou didst bind the winds for him, what time the Akhaian ships sailed to vex the cities of the Teukroi [Trojans], wroth for Rhamnusian Helene."


Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis 183 ff :
"Which now of islands . . . finds most favour with thee [Artemis]? . . . Of islands, Dolikhe [Euboia or Ikaros] hath found favour with thee."

Strabo, Geography 14. 1. 19 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"There is also on the island [of Ikaria] a temple of Artemis, called Tauropolion (of the Taurian City)."


Suidas s.v. Asphodelos (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Also Rhodians wreath Kore and Artemis with asphodel."


Ovid, Fasti 3. 81 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Minoan Crete worships Diana [Artemis] [as their patron god]."

I. RHOCCA (RHOKKA) Village in Crete (Krete)

Aelian, On Animals 12. 22 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"In Krete there is a temple to Artemis Rhokkaia (of Rhokka in Krete), as she is called. The dogs there go raving mad. So when the y are afflicted with this disease they hurl themselves head foremost from the promontory into the sea."

Aelian, On Animals 14. 20 :
"[Some Kretan] boys were bitten by a mad [i.e. rabies infested] dog . . . spectators urged that they should be taken to the temple of Artemis Rhokkaia and that the goddess should be implored to heal them."






A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.