The Chaste Hunter
The hunt, Wild animals, The wilderness, Virginity, Young girls
Deer, Bear, Bow and arrow, Hunting dogs, Palm tree
"Whose study is the bow and the shooting of hares and the spacious dance and sport upon the mountains.”
Callimachus, poet and scholar
Artemis is the daughter of Leto and Zeus and the older twin sister of Apollo. On her birth Hephaestus gifted her a golden bow which she played with for most of her childhood. She learnt how to hunt and decided to become the greatest hunter in history. This goal has taken her whole life to achieve.
She began by visiting the Greater Cyclopes, who work deep in their forges under volcanic isles. They made her arrows of gold and a quiver to hold them, and she spent countless hours practising her archery against trees and beasts of every size. Once confident of her aim the goddess travelled far into the wild to find Pan, the forest god. He taught her the laws of the forest and how to survive away from the trappings of civilisation. Pan gave her seven bitches and six dogs as a hunting pack, which helped capture the six golden-horned deer she uses to pull her chariot. With her training and equipment complete, Artemis ascended to Olympus.
Zeus greeted her there and praised her achievements. She lives there now in a modest palace, a large wooden hunting lodge set into a forest grove. There she resides with her choir of sixty ocean nymphs who appear as nine-year-old girls. Artemis is attended by twenty Nymphs who serve as her handmaidens and hunting party.
Artemis is proud of her ability as a hunter and has a touch of her twin's pride. She will stand no challenges from any mortal or lesser being.
She once took vengeance on the great King Agamemnon of Mycenae when he killed a stag in a grove sacred to her. Standing over the body, he boasted he was a mightier hunter than even Artemis. Angered by this insult, Artemis cursed the Greek fleet when it attempted to set out for Troy and demanded Agamemnon sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia in that same grove. True to form Agamemnon placed politics ahead of family, but Iphigenia's life was spared when Artemis rescued the princess from the knife, replacing her with a boar. She lifted her curse but took Iphigenia to Tauros to become her priestess. Yet Agamemnon should consider himself lucky. Many others have sought to claim themselves a greater hunter than Artemis and all have met unpleasant ends.
The vain and beautiful Adonis boasted how his hunting prowess rivalled Artemis. Unable to stand such hubris, Artemis told a jealous Ares where Adonis was hunting. Ares took the form of a massive boar and gored to death his rival to Aphrodite's heart.
Broteas was a famed hunter who refused to worship Artemis and do her honour. As punishment, Artemis cursed him so every arrow he fired missed. This drove him mad and he ended his life by throwing himself into a fire.
The Theban hero Actaeon was famed as a breeder of hunting dogs. To prove his animals' ability he set out to track Artemis. He succeeded, finding her bathing naked in a spring. Angered to find a man watching her she turned him into a feeble stag. His dogs did not recognise their master and killed him.
Artemis’ first and sole love was the giant Orion, a brilliant hunter and the only person who could keep up with the goddess. They found much in common, grew close and spent much time together away from the hunt. Apollo became suspicious of Orion’s motives. Determined to protect his sister, or maybe out of jealousy, he waited until Orion was swimming far out at sea with just his head visible. Going to his sister, Apollo challenged her to hit the small dark object in the water. He shot first and deliberately missed and then calmly watched on as Artemis drew her bow and sent an arrow flying at her lover. Her shot was true and the arrow struck Orion in the head, killing him instantly. After Apollo paid up the wager and left, Artemis went out to recover her arrow. Finding the dead Orion, Artemis was left in deep despair over the tragedy of her own making. Determined to honour him, she placed Orion in the stars so that he could hunt forever. The episode left Artemis distrustful of love and she vowed to remain chaste so that no others may suffer the fate of Orion.
Like her brother, Artemis is a firm believer in the supremacy of the Olympic gods. Her champions are directed to hunt down the schemes and followers of the Titans. Other common tasks for her champions involve the protection of wildernesses from encroaching civilisation and protecting maiden women.
Artemis appears as a tall woman in her late teens with her dark hair tied back. She always carries her bow and a quiver of arrows. Her normal dress is a practical knee-length chiton and heavy sandals but in more formal settings she wears a long robe with a veil over her hair.
Unlike her twin brother she is focused but can be just as prideful with a hint of the same spite. She takes her realms seriously and expects her retinue and champions to be chaste.
Worship of the huntress god happens all over Greece in sacred groves and temples near mountains, forests and the wilds. She is invoked by hunters wishing success and by parents wishing for protection for their daughters. At her temples and sacred groves a chaste female priest attends to her worship, making sacrifices of boar. Deer and bears are sacred to Artemis and are never sacrificed in her name. At her festivals it is common for young girls to dance in bear costumes.
The greatest site of her worship was at Ephesus in Anatolia. It is a huge temple, almost equal in size to the Parthenon of Athena, and was the first built out of marble. The temple is also a sanctuary for those fleeing from persecution, mortal or divine, and is protected by a circle of dense trees.