In Greek mythology, the goddess of chastity, all young creatures, the Moon, and the hunt (Roman Diana). She was the daughter of Zeus and the Titaness Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was worshipped at cult centres throughout the Greek world; one of the largest was at Ephesus where her great temple, reconstructed several times in antiquity, was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Development of her worship
Artemis was initially an earth goddess associated with wildlife, crop fertility, and human birth in pre-Hellenic Greece, Asia Minor, and Crete; she had no early connection with Apollo, who was also of non-Hellenic origin. Influenced by myth and legend as described by Homer, she evolved into a virgin huntress, although her original position as universal mother continued to be represented by the many-breasted figure in her temple at Ephesus, and she remained a goddess of childbirth.
In historic times, a number of places claimed to possess the statue of Artemis, an image stolen by Iphigenia, whom Artemis had rescued from sacrifice. As a priestess in the goddess's temple at Tauris (the Crimea), Iphigenia's duties had included the sacrificial killing of strangers. Later, rites at those temples laying claim to the statue also exhibited vestiges of human sacrifice. These included Brauron, where throat-cutting was symbolized in the presence of the goddess, and Sparta, where boys were flogged in the ritual of Artemis Orthia.
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