Boeotian Theoi: Artemis

Oi theoi, I’m finding myself at a real loss for words, and finding a whole new meaning to “getting the hard part over with”. No, seriously, I’m finding it impossible to say much eye-catching about Artemis, so my brain is going to the obvious place, first: A quick summary of domain followed by some C&P (maybe this will get my thinker thinking):

Artemis is, first and foremost, the Goddess of The Hunt and protector of wild things, followed almost immediately by Her role as Protector of Women and Children. I’ve written before that Artemis is Herself a Wild Thing, almost feral.

“You musn’t give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get, until they’re strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky.” —Holly Golightly, Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

She’s regarded as one of the three major “virgin goddesses” of the Hellenic religions, though the Greek term, parthenos, may be more complex than simply “virgin”, as it is also an epithet of Hera.


I) THEBES Chief City of 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 Boiotia

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 Boiotia

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) KYRTONES Village in Boiotia

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) PLATAIA City in Boiotia

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].”

Many Boeotians of ancient times apparently regarded Her as syncretic to the Kharis Eukleia, and this seems mostly to be a Boeotian quirk, rather than one of much widespread recognition. This definitely gives me something to consider, as it’s a challenge to my own personal habit of thought of completely separate deities, but this is clearly in conflict with my work order to Boeotian revival.

I’m going to take a walk on this thought; what is it about Artemis that could make Her seem one-and-the-same to one of the Boeotian Kharites (Their primary cult centre was in the Boeotian town of Orkhomenos), in the eyes of so many ancient Boeotians?


2 thoughts on “Boeotian Theoi: Artemis

  1. Pingback: Boeotian Theoi: Artemis « WiccanWeb

  2. Pingback: [PBP2013] Nudity | Of Thespiae

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