Question Kieran Art, Media & Literature

The Lady of Ephesus - depictions of Artemis

Analyse the depictions of the goddess Artemis Ephesia, what is the significance of the accoutrements and qualities she is typically shown with?

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Answer Internal Staff

Artemis was an Ancient Greek deity, associated with wilderness, animals and hunting, as well as childbirth and virginity. At the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, a distinctive form of Artemis was worshipped – similar in many ways to that of the Greeks but depicted rather differently. She is often referred to as the Lady of Ephesus in order to differentiate.

In common with the Greeks’ Artemis, the Lady of Ephesus is also associated with wild animals. For this reason, all depictions of her are decorated with a variety of animals, including bulls, goats, lions and so on. Another common feature of these depictions is the presence of a large number of protuberances from her lower chest. These have at various times been thought to be breasts, gourds, bull testicles or eggs. What is uncontentious, however, is that these are thought to represent fertility, which is another strong association which the Ephesian Artemis shares with the Greek depictions of Artemis.

One way in which they differ is that depictions of the Lady of Ephesus do not share the same associations with hunting. In the Ancient Greek depictions of Artemis, she is often shown with a bow and arrow, or with a hunting dog, whereas these features are never present in Ephesian depictions.