Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and the nymph Leto . Like her twin brother Apollo, who each morning set the azure heavens aflame with his glorious sun chariot, Artemis softly illuminated the evening skies with her delicate moon beams.
In addition to reigning over the ethereal orb of the night, Artemis was also worshiped as the divine huntress, and could often be found in the company of her female attendants happily roaming through the green and leafy woodlands.
She was known to have an ambivalent personality, possessing the power to bring plague and sudden death to mankind as well as to provide them with comfort and healing.
Because Leto did not experience labor pains while giving birth to her daughter, it was common practice for mortal women to call upon Artemis during the delivery of their own children.
Being the elder of the two twins, it has always been concurred that Artemis assisted her mother during the birth of her brother Apollo. For this reason some accounts celebrate her as being the patron goddess of childbirth, thereupon superseding hera's daughter Eileithyia of the title.
Like Athena, Artemis had very little interest in men, and though she was worshiped as a fertility goddess in Ephesus, chose to live her life as a virgin. She took her vow of celibacy very seriously and as you will see in the story of Actaeon was quite unforgiving to anyone that threatened her virtue.
Actaeon was the son of Aristaeus, the patron god of bee keeping and Autonoe, the daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia . Like his father, Actaeon was a profound hunter and would often spend his spare time roaming about the lush forests looking for game.
One day while out hunting, Actaeon accidently stumbled upon the goddess Artemis as she and her companions were bathing on Mount Cithaeron. The startled nymphs quickly tried to shroud their unclothed mistress from the eyes of the curious stranger but it was too late.
The vision of the goddess standing unveiled and vulnerable had already been forever captured in Acteaon's memory. In order to prevent the unlucky spectator from boasting of the incident, Artemis swiftly changed the woodsman into a stag.
Failing to recognize Actaeon as their master, his band of once faithful hounds jumped atop the unlucky hunter and tore him to pieces. It is said that when Actaeon failed to return home, the mournful dogs howled so loudly that the centaur Chiron fashioned a statue in his likeness to help console the pack in their time of grief.
Iphimedeia was the beautiful daughter of King Triops of Argos. Though she was already married to Aloeus, a son of Helios, the fickle maiden fell madly in love with the god Poseidon.
In order to attract the god's attention, Iphimedeia made frequent visits to the sea shore where she would lavishly pour the ocean waves into her lap until she found herself to be with child.
She later gave birth to twin sons whom she called Otus and Ephialtes, or as they were more commonly known the Aloeids.The two boys grew with incredible speed, both exceeding fifty feet in height by their ninth birthday. They were an unruly pair, who often used their size and strength to take advantage of others. The two thrived on chaos and lawlessness, causing unrest to all they encountered while never showing a bit of remorse for their actions.
One day the two giants set out to prove that they were far greater than all of the Olympian gods. In order to make a name for themselves, the pair decided to capture Ares, the god of war and imprison him inside of a large brazen jar.
After kidnapping Ares from his home in Thrace, the two brothers placed the god in chains and forced him to climb into the bronze vessel. They then traveled to the home of Aloeus and his new wife Eriboea, (Iphimedeia had passed away and Aloeus had since remarried) where the urn was carefully hidden away.
With Ares neatly out of sight, the rebellius giants set out to seize Mount Olympus, overthrow Zeus and declare themselves the supreme rulers of the universe.
Their first course of action was to build a bridge that would lead them directly to the divine palace of the gods.
Beginning with placing Mount Pelion on top of Mount Ossa, the two worked feverishly together, emphatically threatening to cast mountain upon mountain until all of the earth's water was finally replaced by land.
Fearing that the situation had gone too far, Zeus drew back his thunderbolt, but just before it left his hand Poseidon appeared and begged him to spare the life of his sons. The impassioned sea god promised to put an end to all the mayhem and take charge of his turbulent offspring.Hermes then flew off to the home of Eriboea where he promptly released Ares from his prison of bronze. Though this put an end to the brother's attack on Olympus, it did not hinder their rebellious deeds.
It came to be that Otus found himself to be in love with the goddess Artemis. Not to be left out Ephialtes openly declared that he too was in love with a goddess, but it was Hera, the queen of heaven that had bewitched his heart.
After spending much time pondering the situation, the two brothers decided to hunt down and carry of their perspective brides. The pair decided to first search for Artemis, who they found relaxing peacefully on the island of Naxos.
The goddess tried to escape into the ocean, but because the giants were sons of Poseidon the water moved freely from their path, allowing them to follow quickly behind her. Over land and sea, the two eagerly chased the fleeing goddess until she finally sprinted into the protective arms of the dark woods.
Otus lunged forward but before he could lay hold of the goddess she abruptly disappeared, leaving behind nothing in her place but a lovely white doe.
Otus and Ephialtes both grasped their spears, for the brothers were very competitive and each desired to prove himself to be the better huntsman. As the doe darted between them, the giants both took aim and hurled their weapons at the coveted target.
Much to their surprise, each brother's spear missed the dear completely and landed precisely inside the heart of the other. The two twins were then whisked off to Tartarus, where after being seated back to back at the base of a large pillar, were tightly bound together by snakes.
A screech owl was placed high above their heads to act as a watchman, just in case the troublesome pair had any more acts of mischief up their sleeves. It seems that Otus and Ephialtes had received their just rewards. For precisely as their lives had been entwined together on earth, so too would they remain side by side deep within the confines of Hades.
Orion was the handsome son of the sea god Poseidon and Eurayle, the daughter of King Minos of Crete. He was a giant in stature and very accomplished at the sport of hunting. Because he was the son of Poseidon, Orion was gifted with the ability to walk upon the water, and one day after strolling to the island of Chios, he happened to see Merope, the daughter of King Oenopion.
Orion was instantly captivated by the princess and desired to make her his wife. Oenopion was willing to agree but only if Orion was first able to rid the town of Hyria from a dangerous horde of wild beasts that had been destroying the land.
Eager to take possession of his new bride-to-be, Orion set out to conquer the ferocious herd. Early each morning he left the home of Oenopion and returned again in the evening bearing a satchel of freshly skinned pelts as proof of his success.
When Orion's task was complete, the triumphant hunter appeared before the king and justly attempted to collect his wife. Oenopion, who had no intentions of ever allowing his daughter to marry Orion refused, stating that lions, bears and wolves could still be found lurking inside of the dark woods.
Feeling angry and betrayed, Orion decided to seek solace in the many barrels of wine that were being stored in the palace pantry. Oenopion was the son of the god Dionysus, and like his father was known to produce robust grapes of the finest quality.
When Orion had taken his fill, he clumsily staggered into Merope's bed chamber and forced himself upon her as she slept. Outraged, Oenopion cried out to his father for revenge. Dionysus immediately ordered a band of satyrs to appear before Orion and satiate the drunken hunter with pitchers of the intoxicating brew until he fell into a deep sleep. Oenopion swiftly drew his sword and with one swing put out both of Orion's eyes before tossing his motionless body on the shore.
Orion learned through the words of an oracle that in order to regain his eyesight, he would be required to travel to the palace of the sun. Once there, he was instructed to gaze directly upon the face of Helios as the god was beginning his journey across the morning sky.
Sightless, Orion followed the sounds of the Cyclops' hammers until he arrived at the island of Lemnos, where he came upon the forge of Hephaestus. The god took pity on Orion and allowed his apprentice Cedalion to accompany him on his journey to the far east. Orion, who was massive in size, lightly placed his young guide upon his shoulders and the two made their way to the palace of the sun.
Orion and his companion waited at on the beach until Cedalion saw the chariot of the sun god slowly drifting above the ocean waves.
Orion turned his face until he felt the warmth of the golden rays float gently across his cheeks and in that instant his eyesight was restored. No longer would he be forced to spend his life in a world eclipsed by total darkness.
It came to be that Eos, the goddess of the dawn made the mistake of having an amorous encounter with the god Ares. Aphrodite, who was not used to sharing her consorts with others did not take this matter lightly. To teach her rival a lesson, the angry goddess cursed Eos with the insatiable desire for the love of mortals.
During the time of Orion's visit to the east, Eos caught a glimpse of the handsome stranger as he stood in the presence her brother Helios. Unable to resist his masculine beauty, Eos lustfully invited him to spend some time with her on the island of Delos.
After a brief stay with Eos, Orion set out to seek revenge upon Oenopion. The king was so fearful of the misled hunter's anger that he took to hiding deep inside of an underground tunnel that was designed for him by Hephaestus.
Suspecting that Oenopion had taken refuge at the home of his grandfather Minos, Orion headed for the isle of Crete. During the course of his journey he happened to meet up with the goddess Artemis, who implored him to forget all about plotting vengeance and come hunting with her instead.
Orion abandoned his mission and joined the goddess on her leisurely trek through the woods. The two cheerfully moved along, enjoying the beauty of the day when suddenly Orion declared that his hunting skills were so sharp that he could easily slay every beast found living upon the earth.
When Apollo heard that his sister had chosen Orion to be her hunting companion he became greatly concerned for her virtue. The sun god was fully aware of Orion's tryst with Eos and was afraid that Artemis would also find herself captivated by his charms.
Remembering Orion's cavalier remark, Apollo decided to pay a visit to Mother Earth. He got down on his knees and with his mouth pressed closely to the ground quietly whispered the boastful words of the hunter into the earth mother's ear.
To Apollo's delight, Gaia found the comment to be highly offensive and sent a poisonous scorpion to track down and persecute Orion. The dexterous hunter tried to fight back by firing arrows at his approaching foe, but to his surprise all rebounded back to him without leaving nary a mark upon its flesh.
Orion then drew his sword but that too was useless against the powerful armour that covered the body of the scorpion. With no other options available, Orion jumped into the sea and desperately swam towards the island of Delos, where he hoped Eos would come to his rescue.
Catching a glimpse of the hunter as he made his way through the ocean waves, Apollo called to Artemis and pointed to the mysterious black shape bobbing freely in the water below. "Look, it is the villian Candaon," Apollo fibbed to Artemis. "Just for a bit of sport, let us see which one of us can be first to land an arrow into the side of his head."
Never one to refuse a challenge, Artemis swiftly drew back her bow, took careful aim and let her arrow fly. It was a perfct shot, but when the goddess ran to retrieve the body she was horrified to find her friend Orion floating lifeless on the shore. Filled with tremendous grief, Artemis paid homage to her fallen companion by placing his image among the stars where he appears to this day as the constellation Orion.
Medea's Lair Of Greek Mythology © 1999-2016.