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Monday, August 1, 2016

M3 Artemis's Chastity

            So, here we are again, tackling the question, why does Artemis need Zeus to ensure her continued virginity?
            Before we address the question directly, we need to examine the nature of gods and their ages. They do not follow human standards. After all, Athena emerged fully-grown and armored (we mustn’t forget the armor!) out of Zeus’s skull. Artemis, immediately after being born, helped her mother move to Delos and acted as a midwife. Clearly, physically, she is not an infant. Even when asking Zeus for these favors as a three year-old child, there’s the sense that child is not referencing her physicality. I have been around a lot of kids, and I can say with some authority that a toddler is not much help as a midwife, and would be no help in helping a pregnant mother move around.
            Further, we have to consider the bow and arrows that Artemis asks for. She is the goddess of the hunt, so it’s in her nature, but bows don’t come in sizes for three year-olds, even when made by NERF. She also completely knows and understands the nature of sex at this age, knowing where children come from and how they’re made. It seems as if the gods either age rapidly to physical maturity, or are born as physical adults.
            The Greeks are not entirely consistent with this as the stone masquerading as Zeus was wrapped in swaddling, just as a baby would be. However, Aphrodite emerged from the sea fully grown. Apollo, Artemis’s twin, asked for bow and arrows “when the fourth day dawned” after he was born (Graves 76). Clearly, Artemis does not possess the body of a normal three year-old child when she’s making her requests. She would be, at the very least, a teenage girl, if not a grown woman by this point.
            However, her mannerisms are that of a child. When making her requests, she “reache[s] up for Zeus’s beard” (Graves 83) exactly as a child would on Santa’s lap. The desire to remain a virgin appears to be part of this nature. Out of all of Zeus’s children (and there are many), Artemis is being indulged as daddy’s little girl. Zeus dotes on her by giving her more than she asks for. By asking forever to remain a virgin, she’s admitting her own childish nature, essentially declaring that “boys have cooties.”
She dislikes the idea of women in labor calling on her because she truly wants nothing to do with children. She doesn’t even want them around as she requires all of her attendants to remain virgins, as well—and a grim fate awaits the one who violates this rule. Her attendant Callisto suffers from Zeus’s attentions. After becoming pregnant by him, Artemis hunts down her and her child. It is only through Zeus’s intervention that mother and child are spared Artemis’s wrath. So even though Callisto is not at fault, and had been raped by Zeus, Artemis cannot overlook the violation of the oath to remain a virgin. (I’ll cover this myth in more depth as one of Zeus’s)
            Like Athena, Artemis is unchanging, but she embraces this, wanting to forever remain a little girl. Reminders of adulthood displease her, for she would rather be out in the wilderness with her nymphs and playing (hunting), indulging in her childish delights.

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