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ARTEMIS PAGE ONE
Artemis and her twin brother Apollo were the children of Zeus
and Leto, who was the daughter of the Titans Phoebe and Coeus.
They were born on the island of Delos because Hera, jealous of
her husband's love for the woman, had refused Leto to give birth
on neither the mainland nor an island out at sea.
The only place safe enough to give birth was Delos, because
Delos was said to be a floating island. Some versions of the
twins' birth state that Artemis was born one day before Apollo,
with that birth having taken place on the island of Ortygia.
Then the very next day, newborn Artemis helped her mother Leto
to cross to the island of Delos, and even aided Leto with the
delivery of Apollo. Either version may be considered accurate,
depending on the source relied upon.
Like her brother, she has the power to send plagues or sudden
death among mortals, and also to heal those who please her.
Artemis loves to hunt and she is the lady of the forest and all
the wild things, as well as the Huntsman-in-chief to the gods,
an unusual position for a woman.
She protects little children and all suckling animals. Armed
with the weapons specially crafted for her by the three
Cyclopes, as ordered by Zeus, Artemis next went to the region
of Arcadia and asked the god Pan for three lop-eared hounds, two
parti-colored and one spotted, capable of dragging live lions
back to their mistress.
Pan also gifted Artemis seven swift hounds from Sparta. She
captured alive four horned hinds and harnessed them to a golden
chariot with golden bits. That was her ride.
The first four times she tried the silver bow that the Cyclopes
had made for her, Artemis sharpened her unerring aim by taking
shots at two trees, a wild beast and a city of unjust men, whom
she cut down mercilessly.
She is one of the three virgin goddesses along with Athena and
Hestia. When Artemis was still only three years old and on her
father Zeus' knee, he asked her what presents she would like.
She didn't hesitate to ask this of the King of the Olympians:
"Pray give me eternal virginity;
as many names as my brother Apollo;
a bow and arrows like his;
the office of bringing light;
a saffron hunting tunic with a red hem reaching to my knees;
sixty young ocean nymphs from Amnisus in Crete,
to take care of my buskins and feed my hounds
when I am not out shooting
all the mountains in the world;
and, lastly, any city you care to choose for me,
but one will be enough,
because I intend to live on mountains most of the time.
Unfortunately, women in labor will often be invoking me,
since my mother Leto carried and bore me without pains,
and the Fates have therefore made me
patroness of child-birth."
Callimachus: Hymn to Artemis
Hence, she also presides over childbirth. As stated above, this
goes back to the fact that she was alleged to not have caused
her mother Leto any pain when she was born.
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