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In Greek mythology, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the goddess of the hunt, forests and the moon, and was often depicted carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later, Hellenistic times she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the gods and one of the oldest. Her later association with the moon is a popular idea which has little foundation. She later became identified with Selene, a Titaness who was a Greek moon goddess, and she was sometimes depicted with a crescent moon above her head. She also became identified with the Roman goddess Diana and with the Etruscan goddess, Artume.
The oldest representations of Artemis in Greek Archaic art portray her as Potnia Theron ("Queen of the Beasts"): a winged goddess holding a stag and leopard in her hands, or sometimes a leopard and a lion. This winged Artemis lingered in ex-votos as Artemis Orthia, with a sanctuary close by Sparta.
In Greek classical art she is usually portrayed as a maiden huntress clothed in a girl's short skirt, with hunting boots, a quiver, a bow and arrows. Often she is shown in the shooting pose, and is accompanied by a hunting dog or stag. Her darker side is revealed in some vase paintings, where she is shown as the death-bringing goddess whose arrows fell young maidens and women, such as the daughters of Niobe.
The attributes of the goddess were often varied: bow and arrows were sometimes replaced by hunting spears; as a goddess of maiden dances she held a lyre; as a goddess of light a pair of flaming torches.
Only in post-Classical art do we find representations of Artemis-Diana with the crown of the crescent moon, as Luna. In the ancient world, although she was occasionally associated with the moon, she was never portrayed as the moon itself. Ancient statues of Artemis have been found with crescent moons, but these moons are always Renaissance-era additions.
See also: Olympian gods