3. The Taurian Artemis.
The legends of this goddess are mystical, and her worship was orgiastic and connected, at least in early times, with human sacrifices.
According to the Greek legend there was in Tauris a goddess, whom the Greeks for some reason identified with their own Artemis. and to whom all strangers that were thrown on the coast of Tauris, were sacrificed. (Eur. IT 36
.) Iphigeneia and Orestes brought her image from thence, and landed at Brauron in Attica, whence the goddess derived the name of Brauronia. (Paus. 1.23.9
, in fin.) The Brauronian Artemis was worshipped at Athens and Sparta, and in the latter place the boys were scourged at her altar in such a manner that it became sprinkled with their blood.
This cruel ceremony was believed to have been introduced by Lycurgus, instead of the human sacrifices which had until then been offered to her. (Dict. of Ant. s. v. Βραυρώνια
.) Her name at Sparta was Orthia, with reference to the phallus, or because her statue stood erect.
According to another tradition, Orestes and Iphigeneia concealed the image of the Taurian goddess in a bundle of brushwood, and carried it to Aricia in Latium. [ARICINA.] Iphigeneia, who was at first to have been sacrificed to Artemis, and then became her priestess, was afterwards identified with the goddess (Hdt. 4.103
; Paus. 1.43.1
), who was worshipped in some parts of Greece, as at Hermione, under the name of Iphigeneia. (Paus. 2.35.1
.) Some traditions stated, that Artemis made Iphigeneia immortal, in the character of Hecate, the goddess of the moon. [HECATE.] A kindred divinity, if not the same as the Taurian Artemis, is Artemis ταυροπόλος
, whose worship was connected with bloody sacrifices, and who produced madness in the minds of men, at least the chorus in the Ajax of Sophocles, describes the madness of Ajax as the work of this divinity.
In the legends about the Taurian Artemis, it seems that separate local traditions of Greece are mixed up with the legends of some Asiatic divinity, whose symbol in the heaven was the moon, and on the earth the cow.