Myth 101: Artemis the Hanged One

Artemis the Hanged One is one of the virgin Goddesses fertility epitaph’s. The image of a hanged figure and fertility doesn’t seem to work quite right at first and so we consult Robert Graves who writes that dolls were hung from fruit trees to ensure good crops, a practice recounted in Crete, Mycenae, Rhodes and Arcadia (Graves, The Greek Myths 298). The sanctuary to Artemis the Hanged One was at Condyleia in Arcadia.

Artemis, Athenian-red figure lekythos C5th B.C., State Hermitage Museum

This connection between sacred fertility and tree worship is ancient – think of the Trees of Life in various mythologies like Yggdrasil of the Nordic Eddas and those of knowledge in the Judeo-Christian Garden of Eden.

Frequently it is assumed that because Artemis was a virgin goddess she is not connected to fertility or growth. In fact this is one of the divine paradoxes in mythic figures for not only was Artemis understood as the fertile energy of flora and fauna  but she was also invoked by women in childbirth by her name Eileithyia.

“O Lovely One [Artemis], you are so gracious to the tender whelps of fierce lions, and take delight in the suckling young of every wild creature that roams the field.” – Aeschylus, Agamemnon 140

“[Artemis] over births presiding, and thyself a maid, to labour pangs imparting ready aid: dissolver of the zone, and wrinkled care [midwifes].” – Orphic Hymn 36 to Artemis

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