The goddess Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and the twin of Apollo. She is known as the goddess of the hunt and fertility.

In one legend, Artemis was born one day before her brother Apollo and immediately after her birth she helped her mother deliver Apollo. This legend is what leads to her being seen as a protector of midwives and birthing. Artemis and Apollo were both seen as healing deities, but they also brought and spread diseases such as leprosy, rabies and even gout.

Artemis was worshiped in most Greek cities as a secondary deity, but in Asia Minor she was a prominent deity. She was the patron goddess of Ephesus, a principal city of Asia Minor. The city built a great temple. The temple was so grand it became one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”.

In Ephesus Artemis was seen less as a huntress and more in her role as a fertility goddess. She was closely identified with Cybele, the mother goddess of eastern lands. The cult statues in Ephesus are quite different from the statues in Greece. The Ephesian Artemis shows an eastern style woman with sacred animals on her skirt, numerous breasts, and eggs or bull testicles surrounding her. On her head was a crescent showing her to be a moon goddess, and she was crowned with her own temple to show she herself protected the sacred space.

She carried to her own temple on her head as the protector of her own temple.

The night that Alexander the Great was born in 356 in Macedonia the temple was burned. It was said she couldn’t watch over her temple because she was assisting with Alexander’s birth. When the Ephesians told Alexander of this he offered to help rebuild the temple.

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