Mythology Monday… Artemis & Apollo

Artemis and Apollo are twin Olympian gods, the children of head honcho Zeus and one of his many mistresses, Leto. It is said that Zeus’ wife, Hera, pursued Leto in an attempt to prevent the birth of the twins. She ultimately found refuge on the island of Delos, where she gave birth first to Artemis, who immediately helped her deliver Apollo.


The eldest of the twins, Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, wilderness and wild animals. Some sources say she is the goddess of the moon and chastity/virginity. She also presides over childbirth and is known as the protector of young girls up until their wedding day. To this end, all of her handmaiden’s guarded their chastity.


Known as a virgin goddess, Artemis drew the attention of many prospective suitors, however, only one of them stole her heart—the giant hunter Orion. As in all mythology, the accounts are varied, though in all of them, the story ends rather tragically with Orion’s death. Some say that Artemis killed him in self-defence when he got too frisky, while others tell of his seductions of her handmaiden, driving Artemis to kill him for it. Two myths weave tales of a scorpion sent to end the giant, one blames Gaia and the other Apollo.


The younger twin Apollo is the god of prophecy and oracles, healing, plague and disease, music, song and poetry, archery, and the protection of young boys until marriage. Bit of an overachiever, if you ask me. In some tales, he is also seen as a sun god, guiding the sun across the sky each day on a chariot pulled by four horses. He is also said to have presided over the muses.


As an oracular deity with the gift of prophecy, Apollo had oracles in various locations, the most famous being that of Delphi. People travelled from across the Greek world to hear their future through the priestess Pythia.


The myths are filled with tales of Apollo’s love affairs—with both female and male consorts—and his numerous children. In some he falls in love with women who reject him while in others the roles are reversed. He is often depicted as vengeful when faced with rejection, as in the case of Cassandra, a human woman he seduced with a promise of the gift of foresight. Scorned by her rejection, he gave her the gift to see the future, but he also cursed her so that no one would believe her prophecies.


The twins share a love of hunting and both carry a bow and arrow as skilled archers. They are said to have remained close and cared deeply for their Titan mother, known to avenge her when anyone threatened Leto. Like night and day, Artemis is a chaste goddess associated with the moon while Apollo stands as a sun god with a string of lovers.


I think it’s safe to say they are a good example of “you can’t choose your family”.



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