Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Classics

First Advisor

Prof. Elspeth Dusinberre

Abstract

Artemis is traditionally known as the virgin goddess of the hunt and paradoxically protector of wild animals. This paper will explore some these more complex qualities of the nature of her worship with a focus on her relationship with women in classical Athens. Primary and secondary literary sources, visual culture - including sculpture and vase paintings, as well as architectural remains will be used to demonstrate the multi-faceted nature of this complex goddess. Through careful consideration of these sources it will become evident that Artemis’ significance to Athenians was as contradictory as her relationship with nature. One such complicated divergence is her varying significance with respect to gender. Among the numerous meanings she held for Athenians she seemed to represent a harsh enforcer of divine propitiation for men while for women she was a force to be appeased to ensure safe transitions throughout life. This may be a reflection of widely divergent perceptions of gender in ancient Athenian society.

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