imago corvi

adventures in enamelling, stories, music and travel




Artemis means ‘vigorous’

In Greek mythology, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. One of the most widely venerated of the gods and one of the oldest, she was the Hellenic goddess of forests, hills, virginity/fertility, and the hunt and was often depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. She was regarded, paradoxically, as the cause of untimely death among youth (especially girls) and as their protector. In later Hellenistic times she assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth. Stories and beliefs about Artemis are often contradictory as many diverse local goddesses were associated with her, and brought their own attributes with them.

il_570xN.370467797_fijmShe later became identified with Selene, a Titaness who was a moon goddess, and she was sometimes depicted with a crescent moon above her head.

Artemis is moreover, like Apollo, unmarried; she is a maiden divinity never conquered by love. The priests and priestesses devoted to her service were bound to live pure and chaste, and transgressions of their vows of chastity were severely punished. She was worshipped in several places together with her brother; and the worship of both divinities was believed to have come from the Hyperboreans, whose maidens brought sacrifices to Delos. The laurel was sacred to both divinities, and both were regarded as the founders and protectors of towns and streets.
Artemis O venerable Goddess, hear my prayer,
for labour pains are thy peculiar care.
In thee, when stretched upon the bed of grief,
the sex, as in a mirror, view relief.
Guard of the race, endued with gentle mind,
to helpless youth benevolent and kind;
benignant nourisher; great nature’s key
belongs to no divinity but thee.
Thou dwellest with all invisible to sight,
and solemn festivals are thy delight.
Thine is the task to loose the virgin’s zone
and thou in every work art seen and known.
With births you sympathize, though pleased to see
the numerous offspring of fertility.
When racked with labour pangs, and sore distressed
the sex invoke thee, as the soul’s sure rest;
for thou Eileithyia alone canst give relief to pain,
which art attempts to ease, but tries in vain.
Artemis Eileithyia, venerable power,
who bringest relief in labour’s dreadful hour;

hear, Prothyraia and make the infant race
thy constant care.

(from the Homeric Hymns)

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This entry was posted on July 18, 2013 by in mythology, painted enamel and tagged , , , , , , .


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