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Places of the myth of Artemis - Diana (Aeolian)

Summary sheet

According to Greek mythology, Artemide, identified with Italian Diana of the Romans, she is considered the daughter of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo. Like her brother, she is armed with a bow and loves hunting; however, while Apollo is seen as the personification of the sun, Artemis is seen as the personification of the moon, in fact, he is often represented with his inseparable bow while hunting at night, by torchlight.

In her hunting trips she was often accompanied by beautiful nymphs, and woe to those who dared to attack their virtues: the hunter Orion was, in fact, killed for trying to rape some of his companions.

Mortals weren't even allowed to see Artemis naked, another hunter, named Actaeon, who, having seen the naked goddess, was first transformed into a deer and then mauled by his own dogs.

giandomenicotiepoloGiandomenico Tiepolo (Venice 1727 - 1804) Metamorphosis of Actaeon

Like the Phoenician god Baal, Artemis once had to receive human sacrifices. It is known, in fact, that in the city of Ephesus in Lydia (Asia Minor) where the temple of Artemis was set on fire in 356 BC, the goddess depicted with numerous breasts was venerated as a symbol of fertility and to whom, in ancient times, human victims were sacrificed.

artemis_of_ephesus_vatican_museumArtemis of Ephesus, Vatican Museums

In Sicily the cult of Artemis was particularly widespread; we talk about it Agrigento, Alesia, Centuripe, Leontini, Murganzia and also in one of the three Ible of Sicily: that of Etnea. Ciaceri recounts that in Centuripe (35 km north-west of Catania), a clay medallion representing Artemis was found hanging from the skeleton of a girl's head, closed in a lead box. According to some versions of the myth Artemis went to the island of Lipari (Aeolian Islands), where the forge of the Cyclops was located to obtain the weapons he needed (a bow, quiver and arrows). The forge of the Cyclops is also located, in other versions and myths, under Etna 

The cult of this goddess was particularly flourishing in Syracuse, on the island of Ortigia, where her temple stood close to that of Athena, with whom she had affinities: both in fact, had been Persephone's companions. 

siracvusa-fontanadiartemideSyracuse - Fountain of Artemis

The presence of the cult in Selinunte would be demonstrated by the discovery of a metope depicting the goddess and Actaeon, now preserved in the Salinas Archaeological Museum in Palermo.

attaon-torn-by-dogs-and-artemisActeon mauled by dogs and Artemis

In Camarina, the cult of the goddess would be demonstrated by the discovery of some votive statuettes dedicated to the divinity [5], some of these are now preserved in the archaeological museum of Ragusa.

In Segesta the cult of Artemis must have been particularly flourishing, as can be deduced from the reading of Cicero (Verrine II.IV.72-80), which describes a bronze statue depicting Diana present in the city and of her subtraction by Verre, Roman governor of Sicily from 73 to 71 BC

 The arrival of Christianity sees Artemis first confuse himself with the devil himself at the night guide of the witches, then with the Madonna; not surprisingly, according to tradition, the virgin Mary lived the last years of her life in Ephesus, seat of the famous temple of Artemis, mentioned above

Detailed information and bibliographic information on our page taken from the study of Ignazio Caloggero (Cults and Myths of Ancient Sicily): Artemis (Diana)

Places indicated in the IWB register of the Sicily Region (Places of Identity and Memory):

  • Ortigia (Syracuse) 
  • Aeolian Islands

Please note: 

In light of the summary sheet presented, it is believed that the places described in the sheet could also be added to the IWB

dianaeattteoneDiana and Atteone Titian (1556-1559)

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