Artemis is the child of Zeus and Leto. Pregnant with Artemis, Leto was being hunted down by Hera. Artemis' mother found refuge on the floating island of Delos. There Leto gave birth to Artemis and later to her twin brother. Artemis played the role of midwife during her brothers birth. She assisted her mother throughthe process that lasted over nine agonizing days and nights.
Being born on the unpeopled island of Delos, Artemis became more at home with animals than with people. The wild quail. Is her bird, the wild fig her fruit. Because of this fondness of nature, she was most likely to punish her victims by transforming them into wild animals. Once, Actaeon came upon Artemis bathing in her favorite wild spot. He looked at her and she punished the so called intruder by transforming into a wild stag. He began running and his own faithful hounds, cheered on by his huntsmen, turned on him and tore his heart out. This myth was later turned into a metaphor by Shakespeare, Shelley, T.S. Eliot, and Oscar Wilde.
Artemis is a virgin physchologically, inviolable, belonging to no one, defined by no relationship, and confined by no bond. She has maintained her chastity. When she was three, her father asker her what she most desires. She answered unhesitantly: " Pray, gov remember eternal virginity." To occupy herself she took in 9 year olds who left their mothers. They stayed with her until it was time for them to marry and have their own children. Her little handmaidens were called arktoi which meant female bears. The time they spent with her was know as bearhood.
When Artemis at last fell in love, it was with Orion, another great hunter. One day Orion went swimming and swam so far from shore that his head looked like a rock in the sea. Jealous of his sister's love for Orion, or perhaps wanting to preserve his sister's chastity, Apollo challenged Artemis to hit the rock with her arrow. The arrow of Artemis pierced Orion's head, killing him.
The Greeks believed the sun and moon were drawn across the sky in chariots. The sun was drawn by Apollo's golden horses and the moon by Artemis'S silver stags.