), one of the great divinities of the Greeks. Her name is usually derived from ἀρτεμής
, uninjured, healthy, vigorous; according to which she would be the goddess who is herself inviolate and vigorous, and also grants strength and health to others. (Plat. Cratyl.
p. 406b. ; Strab. xiv. p.635
; Eustath. ad Hom.
pp. 32, 577, 1732.)
According to the Homeric account and Hesiod (Hes. Th. 918
) she was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, whence Aeschylus (Sept.
148) calls her λητωγένεια
She was the sister of Apollo, and born with him at the same time in the island of Delos.
According to a tradition which Pausanias (8.37.3
) found in Aeschylus, Artemis was a daughter of Demeter, and not of Leto, while according to an Egyptian story (Hdt. 2.156
) she was the daughter of Dionysus and Isis, and Leto was only her nurse.
But these and some other legends are only the results of the identification of the Greek Artemis with other local or foreign divinities.
The place of her birth is for the same reason not the same in all traditions : some say that it was the grove of Ortygia near Ephesus (Tacit. Annal.
3.61; Schol. ad Pind. Nem.
1.1), others that it was Crete (Diod. 5.72
), and others again, that she was the sister of Apollo, but born somewhat earlier, so that she was able to assist Leto in giving birth to Apollo. (Orph Hymn.
34. 5; Spanheim, ad Callim.
p. 476, &c.)
In the description of the nature and character of this goddess, it is necessary to distinguish between the different points of view from which the Greeks regarded her, and also between the really Greek Artemis and certain foreign divinities, who for some resemblance or another were identified by the Greeks with their own Artemis,