rtemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the sister of Apollo. She was also called Cynthia and Delia in reference to Mount Cynthus on her native island of Delos. According to the Alexandrian poet Callimachus, three-year-old Artemis asked her father Zeus for a number of things: eternal virginity, as many names as Apollo, a bow and quiver of arrows, the ability to light the world, a city of her own, all the world's mountains, sixty nymphs as her maids of honour, twenty more nymphs to care for her hounds, and hunting clothes. In order to cure and alleviate the sufferings of mortals Zeus granted her all her wishes.
Artemis was a devoted huntress, aided by ten hounds given her by Pan and a silver bow and arrows forged for her by the Cyclopes. She held a pine torch aloft as she drove her chariot, which was pulled by horned does. Artemis is goddess of the moon, in answer to her wish to bring light to the world.
In the Greek gods, many attributes and myths are the legacy of literary or cultic traditions of foreign deities. Artemis is no exception. She is a virgin but also the goddess of childbirth. She visits the earth with plagues and kills men with impunity but is also the protector of children and wildlife.
In the Trojan war she sided, like Apollo, with the Trojans. As a penalty for killing one of her stags Agamemnon was constrained to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to Artemis before the Greek fleet could sail for Troy,. When King Oeneus of Calydon neglected a ritual sacrifice to Artemis, she sent a boar to ravage his kingdom. When the unlucky hunter Actaeon caught a glimpse of Artemis in the nude as she bathed in a stream, she turned him into a stag and left him to be torn apart by his own dogs.
Artemis, like Apollo, is unmarried; she has never been conquered by love. When Orion lived as a hunter with Artemis he was carried off by Eos (Aurora) who had fallen in love with him, and, as this was displeasing to the gods, it was Artemis' lot to slay him with her arrow. In a sibling rivalry Apollo challenged her to hit a distant point in the sea with one of her arrows, but the mark was the head of Orion, who was swimming in the sea. Thenceforth Orion was set among the stars, where he appears with a girdle, sword, lion's head and club.
With her brother Apollo, she slew the children of Niobe, who with King Amphion of Thebes, boasted that they had seven times as many children as Diana and Apollo's parents Zeus and Leto.
Arcadian Artemis is goddess of the nymphs, hunting in the Arcadian mountains in her chariot drawn by four stags with golden antlers. As goddess of the moon she wears a long robe which reaches down to her feet, a veil over her head, and above her forehead the crescent of the moon. Artemis defended modesty and stood up against violence and excess. She avenged the rape of virgins and Tartarus the King was put to death for his part in ravaging the young women of his city.
'Give me, my dear father, eternal virginity - Give me a bow and arrows ...
Give me the office of bringing light and let me wear a fringed tunic
Reaching to my knees so I can hunt wild beasts'
(From Callimachus b. c 305 BC - d. c 240 BC , Hymn to Artemis 7-10)
In Rome there were several temples to Diana (Artemis). In one, in the Vicus Patricius no men were allowed forevermore because one of the men had tried to violate a woman in the sanctuary itself.