Artemis Ephesia Essay, Research Paper
In ancient antiquity, Ephesus was a very diverse and prosperous city. City life and the workplace were always booming. Education was always at an all-time high. Out of Ephesus came great philosophers, architects, painters, musicians and doctors. Ephesus was known as being a center for education, social matters, and religion. The Ephesians attributed all of this to one being, as shown by this quote: In such prosperous times, it was not difficult for its citizens to maintain that it was the Great Artemis of The Ephesians who protected them, gave them their well-being, and offered them continuity between the past and future. (Strelan, 43)
Artemis was the Great Mother to the Ephesians. (Ogilvie, 21) The Ephesians claimed that Artemis was born in Ephesus and that is where she stayed her time. They were very proud to call her one of their own. She was referred to as Artemis Ephesia, for the sake of her home. She was also attributed the namesake parthenos because she was a goddess of chastity and fertility. She was also known to help pregnant women and to help in childbirth. But, Artemis was not only looked upon for the life change from the womb to birth, but also childhood to adulthood, and virginity to marriage. (Strelan, 51)
She was the great protector of the city. The Ephesians looked to her for help and support in any life crisis or city crisis. They said that it was all her handiwork when things went well. They praised her for watching over her citizens and for keeping the city together and at peace.
It was made apparent to every person how important Artemis was to Ephesus and her citizens. From birth, children were learning about Artemis through myths and legends. Stories were told day and night, all year round, showing how magnificent she was and showing all that she could do for the city. Festivals were held for Artemis, and word of these festivals spread far and wide. People from all across the empire came to Ephesus to interact with the great Artemis Ephesia and her magnificent temple. (The details on these festivals come later.) The truth is that without Artemis, the Ephesians would have had no political center, no economy, no social life. Life in Ephesus centered on Artemis and her temple.
The temple of Artemis was the focal point of all religious and political meetings. Emperors and politicians focused all politics inside or around temple of Artemis. One such politician, Salutaris, tried very hard to make sure that all citizens of Ephesus knew how faithful he was to Artemis and her cult. He wanted to have them understand that he was still in full support of the gods and that he was a very religious person. His hopes in doing so were to combine the cult of Artemis with the imperial cult. He more than likely wanted the imperial cult to take over the cult of Artemis. He wanted to combine politics and religion. It seemed that he wanted to be deified. (Rogers, 21-2) But the temple and the rulers of the cult of Artemis superceded those of the city itself, and their religion was more important than the politics of the emperors and the empire.
The worship of Artemis would not falter, and would not give in to the imperial cult. And it didn t give in. Even though the imperial cult intruded into Artemis territory, Ephesus stayed strongly attached to her and her cult. The imperial cult had no place inside the temple of Artemis. According to Price, when the imperial cult started to spread and to take hold of many cities, the citizens would erect sanctuaries and monuments to the emperor inside of the temples of the gods. This is one thing that did not happen in Ephesus. There were separate imperial buildings or monuments, which certainly did not raise the emperor to a par with the chief god of the sanctuary. (Price, 147)
The people of Ephesus made sacrifice in or in front of this temple, hoping to appease the goddess. The citizens felt it was their duty to do all they could for this supreme goddess, this holy mother of theirs. One way of showing how much they cared and how much they revered her was by keeping up the temple. They would repair it if necessary, and they would always make new additions to the temple.
Magnificent statues of Artemis were placed throughout her temple, and throughout the city. The citizens of Ephesus would pay tribute to their goddess by making these statues of her, and praying to them. There were images of Artemis spread everywhere in the city. These images were the center of Ephesian identity, in the way that they mirrored the ways of the city itself. (Strelan, 73)
The temple was not only a place of worship or a place of sacrifice. It was also a place used for protection from evil and also for asylum. People came from all over the empire to find asylum in the temple of Artemis. She was loved, honored, and trusted by many. There weren t many souls that would show any violence in Artemis temple. In fact, it was believed that any violence shown inside the temple was actually violence shown towards Artemis. This was they way violence was looked upon, and needless to say, there wasn t much violence that occurred in her temple.
There were many ways in with the citizens would show the great worship and praise towards Artemis. Festivals, the main option, were very popular in ancient antiquity. Ephesus was not immune to them. There were many festivals in the city, most of which centered on Artemis. The problem is that many of the festivals were not well documented. Though we know there were many, we don t know many specifics of them all. But there are two festivals that were very well documented: the Artemisia, and the Thargelion. The one I am going to focus on is that of the Artemisia.
The Artemisia was one festival that focused on celebrating the goddess, from her birth to all that she contributed to her city. This festival was full of joy and happiness. It allowed for social interactions, such as the meeting up of women with their potential fianc s and the men to meet up with their brides. There was much celebrating, including singing, dancing, drinking, and enjoying the time. Theatrical performances were held in honor of the goddess. Some of these performances included acting out many of the myths that were well known by all members of the community. They also included performances of the birth of Artemis.
Artemisia went on for a full month. I believe this happened for a couple reasons. Two reasons, of course, were to have a good sense of community and to bring everyone together in worship of their highly beloved goddess. The other main reason was that they believed that, if they held it for a month, they would get people to come from all over, and that it would increase their economy. And, in fact, it did both.
The economy of Ephesus was greatly based on foreigners coming into the city in their worship of Artemis. Visitors brought in a lot of the money that the city made. Those that made their living off of making trinkets and statues of Artemis made their money by having these tourists buy their things.
Artemis was also widely known throughout the empire by the coins that Ephesus distributed. The money of Ephesus had Artemis image on it. A stag or two accompanied her on these coins. (The stag was the animal that most always attributed to her.) These coins would be spread out everywhere, so the image of Artemis along with the name of Ephesus was well known and highly respected. With all of Artemis popularity it was apparent that Ephesus would also become very popular.
The fact is Artemis was everywhere. You could find her in any home of Ephesus, and in many homes outside of Ephesus. Her temple attracted a lot of honor and a lot of attention. Her likeness was printed on coins; her face was recognized throughout the empire. She brought wealth and happiness to the citizens of Ephesus. The Ephesians worshiped her, and loved her dearly. Artemis set the standard for worship, politics, and the economy. She set the way of living through all that she had done for her city.
The worship of the goddess would not die down even with the invasion of Christianity. Christianity was not easily integrated into the life of Ephesus. The story of Paul in Ephesus in the Bible shows us this to a great extent. In the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19, Paul goes to Ephesus in hopes to change them from pagans to Christians. At first, they welcomed Paul with open hearts and open minds. Many switched over to Christianity. Until one day, a silversmith became very upset. With the acceptance of Jesus and God, his handiwork had now become not so important, and his work was not being sold. But he also spoke out to the people of Ephesus, claiming that they were forgetting who was most important to them in their lives. They were forgetting Artemis. They were forgetting how she kept the city well and how she was the reason they all had families and jobs. The people agreed with him, and started chanting, Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! (Verse 28) With this, Paul lost many supporters, and when the riots of the citizens died down, he did leave the city in search of other places that might take better to the Christian religion.
Artemis survived through many attacks on paganism. She was too important and great for the Ephesians to let go of her that quickly. Her cult kept on going, and kept on worshipping her in the ways that I have described above. I will close with a quote from S.R.F. Price. Price has his own reason for Artemis surviving through the changing times. He states that Artemis lived on because of the fact that she was:
honored in her own city which she has made more famous than all other cities through her own divinity, but also by Greeks and foreigners; everywhere shrines and sanctuaries of her have been dedicated, temples founded and altars erected to her because of her vivid manifestations. (Price, 130-1)