Artemis: the virgin goddess

Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo. Both were the offspring of Zeus’ affair with the Titan goddess, Leto. Artemis was born before Apollo, and assisted with his birth, which explains why childbirth is one of her main responsibilities.

Although some other goddesses remained virgins, Artemis’ chastity is a popular subject in Greek myth. Hippolytus was devoted to Artemis and prayed to her alone, which caused his destruction by Aphrodite. The hero Actaeon was torn to pieces by his own dogs just because he accidentally caught a glimpse of Artemis bathing naked.

As well as childbirth, Artemis is responsible for hunting, which is why she is often shown with a bow and arrows in art. She also became associated with the moon, just as Apollo was associated with the sun. This gave her the alternative name Phobe (“she who shines”).


  • Childbirth: Artemis helped her mother give birth to Apollo. She shares this responsibility with her stepmother, Hera.
  • Hunting: Artemis is in charge of hunting animals, and sometimes humans.
  • Wild animals: she is also responsible for the beasts which are hunted.
  • The Moon: this responsibility gives her the alternative name Phoebe.
  • Virginity: Artemis is well-known for her chastity, and protects those who abstain from sexual intercourse.

Artemis iconography

Animals, bow and arrows, moon.