The Last Goddess

How Artemis Ephesia Lost Her Crown – Lecture

Despite the attempt by the Greeks to superimpose their tradition of the Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, known for her severe approach to chastity, virginity, and rejection of marriage, onto the attributes of the Anatolian goddess of motherhood, creation, and an all-encompassing authority, they remained unsuccessful.

Artemis Ephesia retained much of her pre-Hellenic attributes and her royal lineage. Pausanias describes an epithet within the temple of Ephesus in which Artemis is labeled “Goddess of the First Throne,” also referred to as, the womb that encompasses the world
divine authority of Artemis Ephesia is still significant. Her position as Queen is completely unrelated to her Greek counterpart and fundamentally different than any other Olympian deity. It is not difficult to trace the link between an all-encompassing Mother Goddess, the Anatolian Cybele, to the Queen of Beasts or Mistress of Animals, referring to the Greek Artemis, and finally to Artemis Ephesia, the Goddess of the First Throne.

Please enjoy this introductory lecture on some of my academic research in the tradition and ritual history of Artemis Ephesia.


The Strangled Goddess

3051716Apankhomene, the strangled goddess, is another surname of Artemis. Tradition claims that in the neighbourhood of the town of Caphyae in Areadia, in a place called Condylea, there was a sacred grove of Artemis Condyleatis.

Once, some children playfully tied a rope around the neck of her statue and claimed she was strangled. They were stoned to death by the village people. Later the gynaikes, young women, of Caphyae were struck with a disease and all their children were stillborn. The villagers saw this as a sign of the wrath of Artemis for stoning of children. The Oracle ordered that the children should be buried properly, and annual sacrifices made to them since they were wrongly killed.

Artemis does not shed her blood in the hunt, in sex or in childbirth. This mode of death can be associated with her being strangled. Fundamentally, the duality of Artemis strangled is primarily evident in the fact that she is a goddess who does not bleed, but who makes others bleed.

Helen King posits that Artemis being strangled, and therefore without blood, allows her to lead in the transitions of the parthenoi or virgins, into gyne or maiden, by initiating them into this new phase of life which is identified with menstruation, marriage and child birth.

Her position as a transitory agent between child and woman, or child and man, is fundamental.  Artemis is lysizonos, the ‘releaser’ of the girdle [the girdle is put on at puberty and later dedicated to Artemis as a part of the marriage process]. A special girdle is worn on the wedding night and a woman unties her girdle to give birth.

Consequently, Artemis is powerful in the lives of women and invoked by women during childbirth often as lysizonos, and after childbirth the girdle is dedicated to her.  King notes that also dedicated to her is the Lochia, often one of Artemis’ names, which is the placenta.  This clearly depicts her responsibility as overseer of the transition of young people from parthenoi and into being full gynaikes.


Works Cited:

King, H. Bound to Bleed: Artemis and Greek Women. Images of Women in Antiquity. A.Cameron and A. Kuhrt (Eds), London. 1993, p. 109-127.

the forgotten goddess