Happy Birthday Our Pretty Artemis!

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Leto, the mother of Artemis and Apollo, went into labor which too for 9 days. On the eighth day, on May 6th, Artemis was born, and on the ninth day, his brother Apollo was born.

According to a local narrative in Ephesus, although Apollo was born on the island of Delos, Artemis was born in what was thought to be a grove in the ancient port area of ​​Ephesus today.

Statue of Goddess Artemis of Ephesus
Happy Birthday Our Beautiful Artemis!

Even Zeus’ wife, covetous Hera, wanted to prevent Leto’s labor. But at the time of the birth of Artemis, the Curetes, who were the holy priestesses, distracted the attention by making a great noise on the skirts of Mount Nightingale and helped Artemis to be born safely. Starting from this moment, the Ephesians accepted Artemis as their greatest goddess and built her the largest temple in the world in the name of Artemis.

I have seen the walls and Hanging Gardens of ancient Babylon, the statue of Olympian Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the mighty work of the high Pyramids and the tomb of Mausolus. But when I saw the temple at Ephesus rising to the clouds, all these other wonders were put in the shade.

Philo of Byzantium
Artemis Temple Reconstruction

Ephesians used to organize a festival that lasted for about a month on the sixth of May every year, dedicated to the birth of the Goddess Artemis in Ephesus. Preparations would have begun at night for the festival. Believers from all over the pagan world brought sacrifices and gifts for their goddess. Priests and nuns used to decorate the original carved wooden statue of Artemis in the temple with gold, silver, ruby ​​, and many other precious stones and make her ready for the ceremony.

Artemis of Ephesus Statue in Ephesus Archeological Museum

Pilgrims started to march on the holy road connecting Ephesus to the Temple of Artemis. At the end of the parade, hundreds of bulls were sacrificed to the goddess Artemis and the testicles of sacrificial bulls were hung around Artemis’ neck, showing her masculine power.

These parades maybe can be considered the beginning of tourism activity in Ephesus! Because believers from all over the world would provide a great income to Ephesus and exclusively came here to visit the temple just like modern tourists today. Especially the tradesmen who sold the silver and gold figurines of Artemis would earn a great income as it is mentioned in the Holy Bible.

Hasan Gülday

Hasan Gülday. Professional licensed tour guide working in Turkey.

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