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Goddess - Artemis

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Artemis - Goddess Of many Names

Zeus had so many children in so many different circumstances that he could scarcely keep them all in mind. However, his children by Leto stood out from all the others. They were too beautiful. And beauty was the quality he found the most attractive. As Zeus looked down from Olympus, their faces seemed to blaze from among all the children on Earth and he knew that they were true godlings and must be brought to Olympus.

Zeus sent for the twins, Apollo and Artemis, on their third birthday. He gave Apollo a golden bow and a quiver of golden arrows which could never be emptied. But he withheld Artemis' gift; he preferred her and wanted her to ask him for things. So taking Artemis onto his lap he asked her what gifts she would fancy. She responded, "I wish to be your maiden always, never a woman. And I want many names in case i get bored with one. I want a bow and arrow too-silver not gold. I need fifty ocean nymphs to sing for me, and twenty wood nymphs to hunt with me. And I want a pack of hounds, fierce, swift ones. I want the mountains for my special places and one city. She smiled at Zeus and said "May I have all these things? May I?" Zeus answered, "For a child like you, it is worthwhile. You shall have all you ask for and more. You shall have the gift of eternal chastity, and also the gift of changing your mind about it at any time, which will help you not to want it. And, finally, the greatest gift of all,: You shall go out and choose your own gifts so that they will have a special value."

Artemis kissed him and whispered her thanks into his ear and went running off to choose her gifts. She went to the woods and to the river and to the ocean stream and selected the most beautiful nymphs for her court. She visited Hephaestus in his smithy inside the mountain to collect her silver bow. Hephaestus said silver is much more difficult to work with then gold, it needs cool light; it should be made underwater. And he sent her deep beneath the sea to the Cyclopes. So Artemis and her nymphs swam underwater to have her silver bow and quiver of silver arrows made. Once the bow was finished she thanked them prettily and returned to land. Holding the silver bow high over her head , screaming with joy, she ran across field and valley and hill, followed by her nymphs with floating hair, laughing and singing. Next she went to Arcadia where Pan was feeding his hounds. He gave her his ten best dogs and Artemis was wild to try out her new gifts. Seeing a tree which had been struck by lightning and was still smouldering she had her nymphs break pine branches and thrust them into the cinders, for night was coming and she wanted light to shoot by. She was too impatient to wit until morning.

And the people seeing her ride over the mountains, wielding her silver bow, followed by the maidens and their torches, called her the Goddess of the Moon. Some called her the Maiden of the Silver Bow. Others called her The Huntress or simply The Maiden. And so she had her last gift, many names.

Artemis let no man approach her. Once a young man named Actaeon glimpsed her bathing in a stream. She was so beautiful he could not bear to go away, but hid there, watching. Artemis saw him and immediately turned him into a stag. Then she whistled up her hounds, who tore him to pieces.

One day Orion of Boeotia, the handsomest man and cleverest hunter alive, went wild goat hunting with Artemis. When the god Apollo, Artemis' brother, heard of this he feared she had fallen in love with a mortal and determined to put a stop to it. He sent an enormous scorpion to attack Orion. Orion shot the scorpion full of arrows and then used his sword; but, being unable to kill the monster, he dived into the sea and swam off. When Artemis arrived with bow and arrows, Apollo asked her, "Do you see that black thing bobbing up and down far out to sea? It is the head of a wretch that has insulted one of your maidens, killhim." Artemis believed Apollo and took careful aim and shot. Upon discovering that she had killed Orion, she turned him into a constellation, eternally pursued by a scorpion-to remind everyone of Apollo's jealousy and lies.


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