Chapter

Escorts of Artemis

Edith Hall

in Adventures with Iphigenia in Tauris

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392890
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979257 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195392890.003.0007

Series: Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture

Escorts of Artemis

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Religion is the third and most important reason why Iphigenia in Tauris is so evident in diverse ancient sources. The myth it enacts was used by people in many parts of the Hellenistic and Roman worlds as the aetiological charter for their local cults of Artemis, Diana, or other goddesses such as the Lydian Anaitis. From the straits of Messina between Sicily and Italy, to the cult of Diana of the Nemi in the Alban hills near Rome, to Patmos, Lydia, Pontus and the hinterlands of Cappadocia, accounts abound of traditions in which Orestes, sometimes with Iphigenia, brought the image of Artemis or a copy of it from the Taurians and founded a local cult of the goddess. Meanwhile, inhabitants of the Roman Empire of the mid-second century BCE, not only in Italy but in France, Austria and Slovenia, adorned funeral sculptures with scenes from the life of Orestes, especially the experiences he shared with Iphigenia and Pylades in the Black Sea. The reasons for the popularity of the story of the Taurian Artemis in sarcophagus art are similar to those for its prevalence on south Italian vases, with the added factor of the involvement of Orestes and Diana in Roman foundation myths.

Keywords: Hellenistic; Artemis; Diana; Nemi; Cappadocia; Sicily; cult; Roman Empire; sarcophagus art; foundation myths

Chapter.  9146 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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