Homeric gods, like Red Indian, Thlinkeet, or Australian gods, can assume the shapes of birds. But when we read, in Homer, of the arming of Athene, the hunting of Artemis, the vision of golden Aphrodite, the apparition of Hermes, like a young man when the flower of youth is loveliest, then we recognise the effect of race upon myth, the effect of the Greek genius at work on rude material.
The ultimate result of this movement was the introduction of the goddess Diana into the state-cult of Rome, where she was subsequently identified with Apollo's sister Artemis. But this is a long story, and to understand it we must go back some distance to make our beginning.
In answer to those who were angry with him, he would ask, "Are you weary of always receiving benefits from the same hand?" He also vexed the people by building the Temple of Artemis of Good Counsel, as he called her, hinting that he had taken good counsel for the Greeks.
Though for the public eye splendid statues had taken the place of the goddess, the original image was still thought to have a sanctity all its own. We also notice that the gods of Greece are associated with animals. Zeus is a bull in Crete; he has also other transformations: Pan is a goat; Artemis is a bear in some provinces, elsewhere a doe. The Athene of the Acropolis is a serpent.
Unless the gods smile, human toil is vain. The crowning blessing of all work is drawn Not from ourselves, but from the powers above. And this none better knew than Chersiphron, When on the plains of Ephesus he reared The splendid temple built to Artemis.
The little love-locks on the temples had been delicately arranged so as to complete the fine oval of the face, and at the back the black masses drawn lightly upwards from the neck, and held in place there by a pearl comb of Mrs. Burgoyne's, had been piled and twisted into a crown that would have made Artemis herself more queenly.
Alexander was born on the sixth day of the month Hekatombæon, which the Macedonians call Lous, the same day on which the temple of Artemis at Ephesus was burned.
They are not, then, as earthly kings, leaders of their hosts to battle against their neighbours. Fairies fight and marshal themselves for war; Mr. Wentz has several cases of the kind. But Pan and Artemis have no share in these warfares. Queen Mab is one of the many names, and points to one of the many manifestations of Artemis; the Lady of the Lake is another.
On one of the pillars these verses are engraved, With numerous tribes from Asia's regions brought The sons of Athens on these waters, fought; Erecting, after they had quelled the Mede, To Artemis this record of the deed.
So they that were appointed led her to the grove of Artemis, where there was built an altar, and the whole army of the Greeks gathered about it. But when the king saw her going to her death he covered his face with his mantle; but she stood by him, and said, "I give my body with a willing heart to die for my country and for the whole land of Greece.