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The Amazons

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Author Topic: The Amazons  (Read 1366 times)
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« on: February 18, 2007, 04:56:22 am »

Artemis and Her Aspects

Worship of the Goddess Artemis took place throughout the Ancient Greek world. In Athens, the festival of Artemis Brauron was celebrated to commemorate the myth of Callisto. Within the myth, Artemis turns Callisto (one of her nymphs) into a she-bear after finding out that she had became pregnant by Zeus. Artemis required of her nymphs (and followers for that matter), to uphold the same chaste existence that she did. In the festival of Brauron, several Athenian girls were chosen to serve as she-bears in the temple of Artemis. These girls ranging from the age of 5 to 10 would act as she-bears, performing service to the community in commemoration of the myth. Little is known about what actually happened during the festival of Brauron in the ritualistic sense, however as a rite of passage for a few girls, the festival itself was part of a chain of other festivals to make a young girls transition from one position or aspect of life to another. In particular, before the marriage of an Athenian girl, she was expected to give up all of her childhood toys and to bring them to the temple of Artemis, in effect this event exemplifies the transition from the life of a wild youth, to that of a "civilized" or married woman.

The symbolism of the festival of Brauron and the worship of Artemis, takes place on several levels. The Festival of Brauron marks a time when two girls symbolically serve the community and act as she bears. Such a myth delves into the Athenian (and possibly further the general Greek), view of women and their transition from one phase of life to another. A girl in Ancient Greece was expected to marry, and thus have children. Thus, in committing to marriage they were no longer virgins, and the festival of Brauron possibly served the purpose of atoning for the eventual loss of a girls' virginity (or even the entire communities). Similarly, the goddess Artemis held domain over the country dwelling women, over childbirth and childhood, nature, etc. all aspects which take and place a young woman or girl outside of the city (or polis), into the realm of natural, unbridled, and wild. When a girl in Athens married they gave up their toys to Artemis, in effect making their transition from the wild days of their girlhood, to their eventual womanhood.
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