Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5f95dd588d-smdvr Total loading time: 0.402 Render date: 2021-10-28T13:29:10.944Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

The Images of Artemis Ephesia and Greco-Roman Worship: A Reconsideration*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2011

Lynn R. LiDonnici
The College of William and Mary


In a recent essay, Nicole Loraux identified a pattern of scholarly dependence on the origins of a particular deity for the interpretation of how human beings at various, specific times and places related to and used that figure to meet the needs of their lives. Shifting social and political conditions, such as the development and modification of the Athenian polis, led to changes in people's religious needs and are reflected by modifications, sometimes radical, in the conceptualization and worship of their gods. Loraux discussed the problems that this scholarly perspective brought to the study of goddesses in particular, where focus on the origins of many goddesses in a hypothesized worship of a Great Goddess of fertility can obscure our understanding of the ways in which these figures met the needs of individuals and cities at specific points in antiquity.

Research Article
Copyright © President and Fellows of Harvard College 1992

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 Loraux, Nicole, “What is a Goddess?” in Pantel, Pauline Schmitt, ed., A History of Women, (trans. Goldhammer, Arthur; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992) 29.Google Scholar

2 Ibid., 30-37.

3 Oster, Richard, “Ephesus as a Religious Center Under the Principate I: Paganism Before Constantine,” ANRW 2. 18/3 (1990) 1699.Google Scholar

4 The representations have been catalogued most fully by Robert Fleischer in his Artemis von Ephesos und verwandte Kultstatuen aus Anatolien und Syrien (EPRO 35; Leiden: Brill, 1973)Google Scholar ; idem, “Artemis von Ephesos und verwandte Kultstatuen aus Anatolien und Syrien, Supplement,” in Sahin, Sencer, Schwertheim, Elmer, Wagner, Jorg, eds., Studien zur Religion und Kultur Kleinasiens: Festschrift fur Friedrich Karl Dorner zum 65. Geburtstag (EPRO 66; 2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1978) 1. 324–58 and pis. 111-18Google Scholar.

5 The cistophori before 134/33, however, are undated; see Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 39 and pi. 51b ; Kleiner, Fred S., “The Dated Cistophori of Ephesos,” American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 18 (1972) 1732Google Scholar and pis. 11-15.

6 , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 393–95Google Scholar ; Romano, Irene Bald, “Early Greek Cult Images and Cult Practices,” in Hagg, Robin, Marinatos, Nanno, and Nordquist, Gullog C., eds., Early Greek Cult Practice (Skrifter Utgvina av Svenska Institutet i Athen, 4. 38; Stockholm: Svenska Institutet i Athens, 1988) 127–33Google Scholar ; idem , “Early Greek Cult Images” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1980) 241–15Google Scholar ; Seltman, Charles, “The Wardrobe of Artemis,” Numismatic Chronicle, 6th ser., 12 (1952) 3344Google Scholar.

7 , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 8-9 and pl. 11.Google Scholar

8 Ibid., 311 and pi. 138. Fleischer's point here is that it is the rigid, draped, and columnar type of cult statue that was extremely widespread in Hellenistic Anatolia and that within this category, the motif of chest area adornment does occasionally appear in association with other divinities.

9 Three examples from Fleischer's catalog do have nipples, but these examples do not appear in his plates; ibid., E 6, E 35, E 61.

10 Felix, MinuciusOctavius 22.5Google Scholar (ca. 220 CE); Jerome Commentariorum in epistolam ad Ephesios proem (PL 26. 441) (387 CE).

11 Jerome refers to Minucius Felix five times (De viris illustribus 58; Epistulae 49.13; 60.10; 70.5; Comm. in Isa. praefatio 8), and so may have gotten the identification as breasts from that source. On the other hand, Jerome's transliterated citation of a Greek term, polumaston, in an otherwise Latin document may indicate that he found this identification in some Greek source and therefore not in Minucius Felix or at least not directly. The context of the claim in Minucius Felix is a systematic exposition of how Greek philosophers are in harmony with the Christian point of view, followed by an extended attack on popular religion, which does not even measure up to its own philosophical tradition. Unlike Jerome, Minucius Felix did not make any particular attack on the moral character of Artemis Ephesia; rather, his argument is that the multiple iconographic modes available for Artemis (huntress, Ephesian-type, guardian of the crossroads) indicates for Octavius the lack of a real referent for all these symbols. In an argument of this type, it is clearly desirable to discuss the most extreme examples, but to depart from general understandings of these examples would undercut the apologetic and almost forensic tone of the work. This would be especially true if the text was intended to redress the lack of elegantly styled Christian literature in the early third century CE, as Clarke, G. W. has suggested (The Octavius of Marcus Minucius Felix [ACW 39; New York: Newman, 1974] 1232)Google Scholar.

12 , Oster, “Ephesus as a Religious Center,” 1725Google Scholar ; , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 75Google Scholar ; , Seltman, “Wardrobe,” 41Google Scholar ; Jerome's comment is dated to 387 CE, after the Gothic destruction of the Artemision in 265 CE. It is possible that after 265 people's ideas of Artemis Ephesia and Ephesian worship were based solely on the representations, rather than the actual central statue.

13 , Fleischer (Artemis von Ephesos, 7588)Google Scholar gives a comprehensive overview of the many and various hypotheses, to which we should now add that of Helck, W., “Zur Gestalt der ephesischen Artemis,” Archdologischer Anzeiger 99 (1984) 281–82Google Scholar . Helck understands the chest area items as a development from a panther-skin neckcloth seen on a figurine from Catal Huyuk.

14 Seiterle, Gerard, “Artemis—Die Grösse Gottin von Ephesos,” Antike Welt 10 (1979) 3 16Google Scholar . The theory was first presented at the 11th International Congress for Classical Archaeology, London, September 1978. According to Fleischer, Seiterle at that time presented not only his theory, but a model on which actual bull scrota were fastened. See Fleischer, Robert, “Neues zu kleinasiatischen Kuilstatuen,” Archaologischer Anzeiger 98 (1983) 8193Google Scholar . Seiterle's later publication of the theory, cited above, was provisional, and the promised “scientific version” (p. 16) has still not appeared.

15 See, for example, The Director and the Researchers of the , Ephesus-Museum, Ephesus Museum Catalogue (Istanbul: Hitit Color, 1989) 113.Google Scholar

16 Burkert, Walter, Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979) 130Google Scholar . Burkert, however, does not elaborate on the theory or analyze it in detail.

17 The theory is thoroughly critiqued and rejected by , Fleischer (“Neues zu kleinasiatischen Kultstatuen,” 8193).Google Scholar

18 Girard, Rene, Violence and the Sacred (trans. Gregory, Patrick; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977)Google Scholar ; Burkert, Walter, Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth (trans. Peter Bing; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983)Google Scholar.

19 , Oster, “Ephesus as a Religious Center,” 17001706Google Scholar . A great goddess was, however, worshiped on the Artemision site well before the foundation of the city of Ephesus and the adoption of the goddess by a particular political system. The identity of this early inhabitant is unclear, as it was to the Greco-Roman Ephesians themselves; for the present purpose we can say that the specific personality, “Artemis Ephesia,” begins with Ephesus. For a recent survey of issues relating to the archaic Artemision, see Simon, Christopher, “The Archaic Votive Offerings and Cults of Ionia” (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Berkeley, 1986) 2753Google Scholar.

20 On the political dimension of tutelary goddesses and the interpretative problems that they have posed for Western scholarship, see , Loraux, “What is a Goddess?” 1145Google Scholar . A helpful discussion of the relationship between Athena and Athens is Herington, C. J., Athena Parthenos and Athena Polias: A Study in the Religion of Periclean Athens (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1955)Google Scholar ; and now also Neils, Jenifer, Goddess and Polis: The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992)Google Scholar.

21 The vast majority of the over one thousand inscriptions, public and private, published in the eight volumes of Die Inschriften von Ephesos (Inschriften Griechischer Stadte aus Kleinasien 11-17; Bonn: Habelt, 1979-1984)Google Scholar involve the goddess and reflect these roles.

22 There is little indication of universalizing trends in this worship before the Greco-Roman period. The main element that could be considered universalizing is the “mystery” mentioned in Strabo Geographia 14.1.20. There is little warrant for assigning a major fertility function to this goddess, other than a peripheral one; obviously, a good harvest is good for the state.

23 As indicated by the Salutaris inscription, Inschriften von Ephesos, la.27; see Rogers, Guy MacLean, The Sacred Identity of Ephesos: Foundation Myths of a Roman City (London: Routledge, 1991)Google Scholar.

24 Homonoia with Alexandria (relief with Artemis Ephesia and Sarapis, Ephesus Museum, no. 457 ; , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, pl. 41a–b)Google Scholar ; homonoia with Sardis (coin with Artemis Ephesia and Artemis of Sardis ; , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, pi. 79a)Google Scholar ; others in , Oster, “Ephesos as a Religious Center,” 17001701Google Scholar and nn. 308-9.

25 One iconographic element that often indicates such a relationship is the mural crown. In the case of Artemis Ephesia, however, the mural crown is not really a typical element in the stone copies of the statue, although it is somewhat more frequent on coins. While there are several examples of representations with this element, most notably the Naples example (, Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, E 24, pi. 11)Google Scholar , all of these with one exception (now lost : , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, E 66Google Scholar ) are restorations; see , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 5152Google Scholar ; , Seltman, “Wardrobe,” 40Google Scholar . Artemis Ephesia most often wears a simple polos and veil, a large basket (καλαøοø,) or a replica of a shrine or temple. These temple crowns may have political resonance if, as Seltman suggests (p. 40), they refer to the neocorate temples of the emperor and Rome at Ephesus or to the city's wealth, kept in the treasuries of the Artemision. Fleischer believes (Artemis von Ephesos, 58) that the appearance of the mural crown on coins and on E 66, a statuette of the first century CE, indicate that a mural crown was an element of the central image's adornment through Trajanic and Hadrianic times. If this is so, its disappearance in the later Roman Empire may be a further reflection of the erosion of the political dimension of the Ephesians’ understanding of their goddess and its corresponding universalization; see below, 405-8.

26 For myths of origin of the sanctuary, see , CallimachusHymnus in Dianam 237-40, 248–50Google Scholar : “For thee, too, the Amazons, whose mind is set on war, in Ephesus beside the sea established an image (βþεταο) beneath an oak trunk, and Hippo performed a holy rite for thee, and they themselves, O Upis Queen, around the image danced a war-dance.…And afterward around that image was raised a shrine of broad foundations. Than it shall Dawn behold nothing more divine, naught richer. Easily would it outdo Pytho.” This passage is particularly interesting when placed in the context of the full hymn, which everywhere else discusses the actions of the goddess in founding sanctuaries and rituals; only here does it stress the image as the foundational element. According to Pausanias Descriptio Graeciae 7.2.6, Pindar also regarded the Amazons as the founders of the sanctuary, although Pausanias does not mention whether Pindar stresses the foundational role played by the image.

27 The widely accepted claim that Ephesians thought their image had fallen from heaven actually appears in only one source, namely, the famous riot scene in Acts 19:35. No epithets of Artemis or myths dealing with the statue reflect such a belief. While this was, as Walter Burkert points out (Greek Religion [trans. Raffan, John; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985] 91 n. 84)Google Scholar , a frequently held belief about ancient xoana, there is no other mention of such a belief for Ephesus. Seltman proposed (“The Wardrobe of Artemis,” 33-51) a reading of Acts 19:35 that associated the phrase και τοü σιοπετοüσ (“and the Zeus-fallen thing”) not with the cult statue but with some small, additional object, perhaps a neolithic artifact, which was also sacred and housed in the temple. Seltman regarded the temple-shaped headgear of several images of Artemis Ephesia as representations of a small shrine (replicas of which were made by the silversmith Demetrios) in which such an object would be housed. This is an interesting possibility, especially since it explains the mysterious change to masculine gender for adjectives modifying τπσ üεσαλθσ αþτευισøσ (“the great Artemis”). I do not dismiss the possiblity that first-century Ephesians may have believed that their statue fell to earth; the idea must, however, be placed side by side with Pliny's source, Mucianus, who seems quite comfortable with the idea that it was created by a great sculptor in the fifth century BCE. I think that we should take into account the literary program of Acts, which is interested in setting up a dichotomy between all cult statues, “gods made by human hands,” and its portrayal of Paul as anti-iconic, as also in Acts 17:16 and 24. If so, the author of Acts could easily conflate various claims about cult statues into a single example for rhetorical purposes; Ephesus is the perfect setting for such a debate since its central image was not only pervasive, but very important in its own right.

28 This is especially clear in , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, E 58, pi. 33Google Scholar . Fleischer's argument relies heavily on this particular statue, which he regards as the earliest of the freestanding figures.

29 Thiersch, Hermann, Artemis Ephesia: Eine archdologische Untersuchung (Abhandlungen der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse, 3.12; Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1935).Google Scholar

30 Ephesus Museum no. 712 ; , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, E 45, pls. 1217Google Scholar . “Realism,” however, is a subjective category, and Fleischer does not regard the chest area items of this particular statue as being any more realistic than those of E 58, because they are flabby and drooping; see below, p. 411 n. 89.

31 Ephesus Museum no. 718 ; , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, E 46, pls. 1823Google Scholar and frontispiece. The value judgments reflected by these names are emblematic of some of the problems discussed below, p. 411 n. 89.

32 Both statues, at any rate, were found in that location; Franz Miltner , Ergebnisse der osterreichischen Ausgrabungen in Ephesos im Jahre 1955,” Anzeiger der philologisch-historischen Klasse der osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 94 (1957) 1325Google Scholar.

33 The Prytaneion was the headquarters of the priests of the Kuretes who, in addition to many civic functions, were in charge of several rites for Artemis Ephesia, including the “mysteries” mentioned in Strabo Geographia 14.1.20; see also Keil, Josef, “Kulte im Prytaneion von Ephesos,” in Calder, W. M. and Keil, Josef, eds., Anatolian Studies Presented to William Hepburn Buckler (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1939) 119–28Google Scholar.

34 There are two hundred years between both the appearance of the complicated chest area motif in association with Zeus Labraundos and the assumed practice of this type of adornment for Artemis Ephesia, and the beginnings of the use of the “complicated Artemis” as the Ephesian city symbol on coins. I would argue that both changes are significant and reflect major changes in both eras: in the fourth century BCE, Alexander's conquest of the Persians and the devastating Herostratos fire; and in the latter half of the second century BCE, the growing influence of Rome in Anatolian affairs, capped off by the transfer in 133 BCE of all Pergamene territory to Rome in the Testament of Attalos. It is important, however, to remember that the second-century evidence itself is the only real indicator of changes for Artemis Ephesia in the fourth century, and it requires us to use the same evidence for two separate things. Since she was a city goddess, however, we should look for changes in worship and understanding in the religion of Ephesian Artemis at precisely those moments at which the city itself was experiencing change. For the latter half of the second century BCE, we have both “halves": the changeover to Roman rule and the appearance of the central image as the city symbol on coins. I think that I am justified both in proposing a strong relationship between these two and in suggesting this use of the symbol as a response to the potential loss of identity that resulted from being overwhelmed by the Roman Empire. For the fourth century BCE, we also have a situation of massive change, but it is only by analogy to (1) the use of the motif generally in Hellenistic Anatolia and (2) its ultimate appearance on coins in the latter half of the second century that we can propose a hypothesis of religious and/or iconographic changes at this time. Many anomalies in the evidence relating to the appearance of Artemis Ephesia over time, however, are explained best by a change of statue or the statue's appearance in the early Hellenistic period.

35 Underneath the later monumental altar are remains of a seventh-century BCE eschara (monumental statue base), a temple and altar (the “Hekatompedos") with associated animal bones and pottery sherds, as well as ivory fragments and a small Daedalic terracotta figurine. Remains of an eighth-century apsidal building have also been found, as well as an eschara or cult statue base and an associated ramp that all date to the sixth century BCE; see Bammer, Anton, “Recent Excavations at the Altar of Artemis in Ephesos,” Archaeology 27 (1974) 202–5Google Scholar ; a more recent survey is idem , Forschungen im Artemision von Ephesos von 1976 bis 1981,” Anatolian Studies 32 (1982) 6187Google Scholar ; see also , Romano, “Early Greek Cult Images,” 241Google Scholar ; and the survey of preclassical finds in , Simon, “Archaic Votive Offerings,” 2753Google Scholar.

36 The gold, ivory, and electrum figurines are discussed by , Simon, “Archaic Votive Offerings,” 44 nn. 1518Google Scholar . It is also possible that none of these figurines represents the central image; none of them has the outstretched arms that are generally agreed to be a feature of even the early versions of the Ephesian goddess. There is, however, a small terracotta figurine (Ephesus Museum, Selcuk no. 20/56/73) that has its arms bent at the elbows and approaching each other across the torso of the statue; this might be an effective way of rendering outstretched arms in the small-scale terracotta votive. This figurine also suggests the later versions of the statue in its headgear; see , Bammer, “Recent Excavations,” 202–5Google Scholar.

37 , PlinyHist. nat. 16.79. 213–16Google Scholar . Pliny says that Mucianus was consul three times; he is probably to be identified as Gaius Licinius Mucianus, consul in 65, 70, and 72 CE. He would therefore be a nearly contemporary source for Naturalis historia, which was published in 77 CE.

38 Endoios is mentioned several times in Pausanias, and the name appears in four Attic inscriptions of the late sixth century BCE. For a full discussion of the construction and appearance of this image, see , Romano, “Early Greek Cult Images,” 236–49Google Scholar . The name “Endoios” in the passage from Pliny is, according to , Simon (“Archaic Votive Offerings,” 47 n. 45)Google Scholar , a restoration based on a corrupt manuscript text. For the present purpose, however, what is important is not the name of the sculptor but the fact of the Ephesians’ memory that the image was sculpted by a particular individual in the sixth century.

39 Pliny was surprised by several elements of Mucianus's description of Artemis Ephesia. Mucianus claimed that the statue was made of grapevine wood, while Pliny stated that “all the other writers” said it was of ebony. Mucianus said that the sculptor was Endoios (or someone) and that the statue had remained the same through seven restorations of the temple. Pliny was surprised at the identification of the sculptor, since, whether the text reads “Endoios” or not, whoever it is is too recent, in his view, to have sculpted a statue to which Mucianus assigned “an antiquity that makes it older than not only Father Liber but Minerva also” (, PlinyHist. nat. 16.79. 214)Google Scholar . This great antiquity must somehow correspond to the seven restorations, which Mucianus seems to have projected back before Endoios, thus causing Pliny's surprise. Archaeology indicates traces of at least three temples preceding the Kroisos temple; see , Simon, “Archaic Votive Offerings,” 30Google Scholar . It is also possible that “remained the same” means “kept the same form,” not “was the same statue,” and that this was either misunder-stood or exaggerated by Mucianus. Since it is unlikely that the statue from the era of Endoios survived the conflagration of 356 (see below), I think that this is the most likely interpretation of the passage. Pliny was also surprised that the statue, which was small, had any joints. The joints, however, are necessitated by the statue's outstretched arms.

40 This dating is the subject of continuing debate; see the survey of arguments up to 1986 in , Simon, “Archaic Votive Offerings,” 2735Google Scholar , and now also Bammer, Anton, “A Peripetos of the Geometric Period in the Artemision of EphesosAnatolian Studies 40 (1990) 137–60Google Scholar.

41 If any of the figurines represent the statue, their lack of outstretched arms may reflect the adoption of a new central image with this motif, leading to the burial of these now “old-fashioned” votives . , Fleischer, however, argues (Artemis von Ephesos, 127Google Scholar ) that Endoios's statue was a “faithful copy” of whatever statue had been there before.

42 There is such an indication, for example, for Hera of Samos; see , Romano, “Early Greek Cult Images,” 245 n. 41.Google Scholar

43 The sixth-century statue may have been the first image on the site; this is, however, unlikely; see n. 36, above, uOn the Saserna coins, see , Seltman, “The Wardrobe of Artemis,” 3436Google Scholar and pi. 5, nos. 2 and 11.

45 , StraboGeographia 4.1. 4.Google Scholar

46 Massilia was founded by Phocaeans originally in 600 BCE, but there was an extensive second wave of colonists who came after the destruction of Phocis by the Persians in 540. It is therefore unclear which of these waves brought the image of Artemis. In the battles of 540, Ephesus, though conquered, escaped serious damage; this event would certainly be attributed to the goddess, making her image a powerful if bittersweet focal point for the second wave of colonists. This view is suggested by Irad Malkin, “Missionaires paiens dans la Gaule grecque,” in idem , La France et la Mediterranee (Leiden: Brill, 1990) 4252Google Scholar ; see also idem , Religion and Colonization in Ancient Greece (Leiden: Brill, 1987) 6972Google Scholar.

47 Seltman suggests that Endoios himself may have also carved the copy (“The Wardrobe of Artemis,” 34, with other examples in n. 15).

48 Strabo's account (Geographica 4.1.4) suggests that the αøισοüσα was already in existence when these events occurred, indicating the possibility of multiple “copies” or, rather, versions for different applications. This was the case in 104 CE, judging from the multiple images described in the Salutaris inscription, Inschriften von Ephesos, la.27.

49 , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 127.Google Scholar

50 , PlutarchAlex. 3. 35.Google Scholar

51 , AelianNat. an. 6. 40Google Scholar ; Solinus 40.2-4 ; , StraboGeographia 14.1. 22Google Scholar ; according to Der kleine Pauly 2 (1979)Google Scholars.v. Herostratos, these three authorities get the name from Theopompus, the only historian to record it. According to , Lucian (Pergr. mort. 22)Google Scholar , Herostratos was trying to make a name for himself. While we may question his method, we must note his success if this characterization is accurate. This claim is also reported in Valerius Maximus (Factorum et dictorum memorabilium libri 8.14.5), where it is cited as the rationale for the ban on Herostratos's name; a fit punishment for someone trying to make his name known; other references can be found in Kukula, Richard C., “Literarische Zeugnisse uber den Artemistempel,” Forschungen in Ephesos (12 vols.; Vienna: Holder, 1906-1990) 1. 237–77Google Scholar.

52 , PlinyHist. nat. 16. 74.Google Scholar

53 Mucianus describes the statue as wood and mentions that it was rubbed periodically with oil of nard to prevent shrinkage and warping (, PlinyHist. nat. 16.79. 215)Google Scholar . Even if Mucianus is unreliable, most wooden statues were regularly either oiled or moistened, de-pending on the climate. Xenophon (An. 5.3.12) describes the statue as gold, but this is usually interpreted as gilding over a wooden core.

54 , StraboGeographia 14.1. 22.Google Scholar

55 Ibid. This reaction, however, is also not unique to Ephesus. A similar public fundraising program attended the restoration of the Athenian Acropolis, with the addition of the Parthenon, after the Persian destruction; Pericles’ offer to pay for the building was similarly rebuffed (, PlutarchPericl. 14)Google Scholar . If we are not simply seeing contaminated mythic traditions about hero-kings here, then both instances involving city deities testify to the desire of the collective of individuals to sponsor the honors for their protective gods.

56 I interpret the Megabyzos priest as an addition in the Persian era to the Artemision clergy and as representative of religious diplomacy between Sardis, the ruling city, and Ephesus, the ruled, although favored, subject. I also read the famous Ephesian death sentence inscription, lnschriften von Ephesos, la.2, as symptomatic of the disruption of this diplomatic-religious relationship upon the end of Persian rule and the beginning of the Hellenistic empires; the sanctuary of Artemis Ephesia in Sardis may even represent the holding “hostage” of an important Ephesian religious object or image, the removal of which sparked the “outrage” punished by the inscription; see my article, “The Megabyzos Priesthood and EphesianSardian Religious Diplomacy” (in process); for a recent discussion of the death sentence, see Hanfmann, George M. A., “The Sacrilege Inscription: The Ethnic, Linguistic, Social and Religious Situation at Sardis at the End of the Persian Era,” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 1 (1987) 18Google Scholar.

57 For protection against the the invading Kroisos the Ephesians dedicated their entire city to Artemis by physically tying the city to the sanctuary with rope (, HerodotusHistoriae 1. 26).Google Scholar

58 , StraboGeographia 14.1. 22Google Scholar . This seems to have been an important element for the Ephesians, but one which occasionally needed to be defended, since Strabo is at pains to correct rumors that Ephesus had appropriated funds on deposit at the Artemision and diverted them into the building project. The funds in question would have been huge. The Artemision had always functioned as a bank, but after his conquest Alexander directed all tribute previously paid to the Persian Empire to be held on deposit at the Artemision (, ArrianAnabasis 1.17. 10)Google Scholar.

59 The changeover from Persian to Greek dominance was accompanied by political infighting within Ephesus itself; see Elliger, Winfried, Ephesos: Geschichte einer antiken Weltstadt (Stuttgart: Kolhammer, 1975) esp. 4548Google Scholar.

60 Fleischer is extremely comprehensive here, providing catalogs, plates, and discussion of these other statues as well (Artemis von Ephesos, 137–385); see also idem, “Artemis Ephesia und Aphrodite von Aphrodisias,” in Vermaseren, Maarten J., ed., Die orientalischen Religion im Romerreich (Leiden: Brill, 1981) 298315Google Scholar . It should be noted that the majority of these other statues do not have the chest area elements but are similar to Artemis Ephesia in most other ways, especially in the columnar torso and draping.

61 Much of this discussion, both here and in Fleischer, centers on the presence of this motif on the Tegean relief of Zeus of Labraunda, now in the British Museum; see , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 310–23 and pis. 137-41bGoogle Scholar.

62 This is supported by Fleischer's observation (ibid., 310–23) that the surviving representations vary the number of chest area items considerably, suggesting different pectorals at different times.

63 Surprisingly, the role played by the actual cult statue in Greco-Roman worship is un-clear, and the frequency with which anyone but the temple wardens would have seen this ancient image, adorned or not, is an open question. The assumption that the central image was brought into Ephesus in the Salutaris procession is based, it seems, only on analogies to other festivals in other cities; the inscription itself, which is very detailed and specific (where it is not broken), mentions only replicas and type-statues; see , Rogers, The Sacred Identity of Ephesos, 80126Google Scholar . Several scholars reconstruct a festival called παιτισ based on the intersection between a reference in the Etymologicum magnum (252.11) and a first-century inscription, Inschriften von Ephesos, la.14. Etymologicum magnum describes a festival in which the central image is brought down to the seashore and given a meal of celery and salt; the inscription records payments made to two individuals designated as αλοøοþοσ (“salt bearer”) and οελεινοøοþοσ (“celery bearer”), respectively. The full context of the inscription, how-ever, leaves the function of these individuals unclear, and no other sources describe such a festival, although there is an inscription dedicated to an Aphrodite Daitis in the third century CE (Inschriften von Ephesos, 4.1202); on this issue, see , Romano, “Early Greek Cult Statues,” 242Google Scholar and 247 n. 23 ; Heberdey, R., “παιτιε: Ein Beitrag zum ephesischen Arlemiskult,” Jahiheft des Osterreichischen Archdologischen Instituts 7 (1904)Google Scholar Beiblatt, col. 44 ; Burkert, Walter, Structure and History, 129–30Google Scholar . The role, if any, of the central image in the nativity festival is also unclear; see , Oster, “Ephesos as a Religious Center,” 1709–11Google Scholar . All of these issues need fuller consideration than they can receive here; it seems, however, most likely that the central image itself was rarely if ever seen in the city and that the images in the adorned state formed the focal point of most peoples’ religious speculation.

64 See above, p. 399.

65 Kroisos did not destroy the city but instead gave it a monumental temple; Alexander also wished to give the Ephesians a temple and redirected a tremendous amount of tribute into the Ephesian temple banking system; Lysimachos made Ephesus his capital and liked it so much that, instead of just going elsewhere when he encountered environmental problems, he moved with the city and embarked on a huge and expensive rebuilding project; Rome made Ephesus the capital of the province of Asia and made it neocorate four times.

66 Global consciousness and universalistic deities frequently go hand in hand. Another example of this phenomenon is found in one trajectory of Hebrew theology and literature, namely, the transformation of the localized God of Israel of the monarchial period to a universal God concerned with all of the nations of the world in response to conquest and empire, reflected in Second Isaiah and elsewhere. This tradition and the exportability of this God continues, especially in the Diaspora traditions. In Philo, for example, Israel and the patriarchs continue to be significant but to a large extent they are now understood allegorically. The literature on this subject is voluminous; see, among others , Sandmel, Samuel, Philo of Alexandria: An Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979Google Scholar ); Collins, John J., Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora (New York: Crossroad, 1983)Google Scholar ; Borgen, Peder, “Philo of Alexandria,” in Stone, Michael E., ed., Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT 2; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984) 233–82Google Scholar ; further literature there.

67 For locations of finds, see Fleischer's comprehensive catalog (Artemis von Ephesos, 2-38). The representations are in many media and found throughout the area of Mediterranean culture, although the largest numbers come from Anatolia; one found in Caesarea is now in the Israel Museum. I do not think that every representation of Artemis Ephesia found outside of Ephesus necessarily reflects transplanted Ephesians, although migration could account for many. Some of them may reflect memorialization of particular processions that were financed or sponsored by a given Roman official, as we know could happen from the Salutaris inscription. It should also be pointed out that there is such widespread interest in Artemis Ephesia in the second century CE, the precise time for which Fleischer and others must hypothesize a lack of sincere interest in Artemis Ephesia that permitted amnesia of what the chest area items are and paved the way for Minucius Felix and Jerome.

68 See above, p. 391 and n. 7. This statue is extremely puzzling. The two materials do seem to refer to a wooden statue covered with ornament, since the “breasts” are not of the darker material. This factor would seem to argue against the idea that the post-Herostratos statue had the ornament carved into the fabric of the statue itself. On the other hand, the appearance of this statue's chest area does not suggest any kind of ornamentation, even bags, but rather a large number of maternal, nourishing breasts. One possibility is that in the post-Herostratos statue the chest area items were a part of the fabric of the statue but were gilded. This might give the effect of the earlier ornamentation that had perished along with the statue.

69 This would be so, if the Megabyzos priest does indicate religious diplomacy; see above, n. 56.

70 See Dunand, Francoise, Le Culte d'Isis dans le bassin oriental de la Mediterrannee I-III (EPRO 26; Leiden: Brill, 1973)Google Scholar ; Heyob, Sharon Kelly, The Cult of Isis Among Women in the Greco-Roman World (EPRO 51; Leiden: Brill, 1975)Google Scholar ; also Reginald Eldred Witt, “The Great Artemis-Isis,” in idem , Isis in the Greco-Roman World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971) 141–51Google Scholar.

71 Drexler, Wilhelm (“Der Isis— und Sarapis-Cultus in Kleinasien,” Numismatische Zeilschrift 21 [1889] 7894Google Scholar , 390) gives examples of Ephesian coins from 91, 88, 87, 82, and 68 BCE carrying the image of Isis.

72 Baldly stated, the Pharaoh was identified with Horus while alive and became Osiris upon death; see discussion and references collected in two articles by Griffiths, J. Gwyn, “The Faith of the Pharaonic Period,” and “The Great Egyptian Cults of Oecumenical Spiritual Significance,” both in Armstrong, A. H., ed., Classical Mediterranean Spirituality (New York: Crossroad, 1986) 3-38 and 3965Google Scholar , respectively.

73 Isis, however, retains an association with divine rulership in Ptolemaic Egypt; see Versnel, H. S., Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion, vol. 1Google Scholar : Ter Unas: Isis, Dionysos, Hermes: Three Studies in Henotheism (Brill: Leiden, 1990) 3995Google Scholar.

74 It is necessary to bear in mind here, however, that since all the examples date from the Roman period, it is dangerous to claim that this is a new element that begins at this time. Fleischer, in fact, sees the zodiac necklace as part of the central statue's adornment as early as the Hellenistic period (Artemis von Ephesos, 70-72, 410). On the other hand, if Fleischer is correct, its appearance in the Hellenistic period may indicate a first wave of universalism brought on by Alexander and the emerging Greek empires that practiced and encouraged an active syncretism among subject states.

75 Ibid., 70-72.

76 The reason for the particular choices of constellations, however, requires further exami-nation and may prove fruitful. David Ulansey has suggested that in the worship of Mithras, at least, zodiacal symbols convey important information that communicates a central feature of the worship (The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World [New York: Oxford University Press, 1989]).Google Scholar

77 See Corrington, Gail Paterson, “The Milk of Salvation: Redemption by the Mother in Late Antiquity and Early Christianity,” HTR 82 (1989) 393420Google Scholar ; Tinh, Tran Tarn and LaBrecque, Yvette, Isis Lactans (EPRO 37; Leiden: Brill, 1973)Google Scholar ; and Price, Theodora Hadzisteliou, Kourotrophos: Cults and Representations of Greek Nursing Deities (Studies of the Dutch Archaeological and Historical Society 8; Leiden: Brill, 1978)Google Scholar.

78 The famous Etruscan bronze nursing wolf statue in the Conservatori Museum in Rome, taken over as a potent symbol of Rome, may have also exerted an influence on perception and interpretation. This bronze, originally a solo piece, had the two suckling babies added to it when it was adopted as a symbol of the Roman state.

79 , Pseudo-DemosthenesIn Neaeram 118–22.Google Scholar

80 Sexual pleasure with the legitimate wife, however, is regarded with suspicion; see Aline Rousselle, “Body Politics in Ancient Rome,” in , Pantel, A History of Women, 321–23Google Scholar.

81 “Sexuality” as we use the term does not appear to have concerned people in the ancient Mediterranean; specific acts drew more attention than choices about lifestyle or sexual identities in the modern sense of identification. On this issue, see, among others , Halperin, David, Winkler, John J., and Zeitlin, Froma I., eds., Before Sexuality: The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990)Google Scholar ; Rousselle, Aline, Porneia: On Desire and the Body in Antiquity (London: Blackwell, 1988)Google Scholar ; Winkler, John J., The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece (London: Routledge, 1990)Google Scholar ; Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality (3 vols.; New York: Vintage, 1980-1986)Google Scholar ; Veyne, Paul, ed., A History of Private Life, vol. 1Google Scholar : From Pagan Rome to Byzantium (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987) 5234Google Scholar.

82 Note however, that eroticized statues of Aphrodite, such as the Melian or Knidian, were not “cult statues” and occur in cities for whom Aphrodite is not the tutelary, political goddess. In Aphrodisias, for example, where this is the function of Aphrodite, the cult statue is heavily draped, veiled, and columnar, looking very much like the central image of Artemis Ephesia except that Aphrodite lacks the multiplication of breasts; see , Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 146–84Google Scholar ; and idem, “Artemis Ephesia and Aphrodite von Aphrodisias,” 298–315.

83 The one exception with which I am acquainted is difficult to explain. It is a fifth-century BCE lekythos, the name-vase of the so-called Beldam Painter. On this vase, satyrs appear to beat a naked woman whose wrists are tied to the tree against which she leans. This figure has not only extremely large breasts, but a swollen belly suggestive, to me, of pregnancy. It is not at all clear, however, that this is intended as an erotic scene; the suggestion is more one of revenge and torture against, specifically, a married woman, although this may be inferring too much. I would point out that the call name of this painter clearly implies the scholarly assumption that the woman would not be undergoing torture undeservedly; she therefore must be a “beldam”; John Boardman says she is a “harridan” (Athenian Black Figure Vases [New York: Oxford University Press, 1974] 149–50Google Scholar and pi. 277). There is no suggestion of this characterization in the content of the picture on the vase, however, other than the perceived “ugliness” of the victim, a perception that is possibly more accurate in terms of our own cultural values and ideals of beauty than in terms of those of antiquity. Abuse of hetaerae of a variety of ages is, however, a fairly frequent theme in classical vase painting; see Keuls, Eva C., The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens (New York: Harper & Row, 1985) esp. 153228Google Scholar , 300-320. On this issue more generally, see Richlin, Amy, ed., Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)Google Scholar.

84 This is the story of Kandaules (, HerodotusHistoriae 1. 812)Google Scholar . This tale results in the death of Kandaules, with the connivance of the wife whose position he had outraged. Herodotus possibly also was using what was to him an outlandish story as evidence of how strange foreign people are.

85 , Rousselle, “Body Politics in Ancient Rome,” 321–23.Google Scholar

86 , Rousselle, Porneia, 5-23, 129–40.Google Scholar

87 Examples of this phenomenon include twisting the Megabyzos priesthood in many directions to accommodate a Cybele, or Ishtar-like concern with wild sexuality into the symbolic sphere of the goddess, or going back several millennia to find the “real” or “true” origin of the Artemis Ephesia as a “fertility goddess” (an increasingly vague and unhelpful category), as Seiterle must do to support his bull-scrota theory.

88 , Witt, Isis in the Graeco-Roman World, 144.Google Scholar

89 This is in fact one of Fleischer's principal reasons for rejecting the identification of the items as breasts at any period: “A sagging female breast was, in ancient art, regarded as grotesque and scarcely ever represented” (Artemis von Ephesos, 74).

90 , Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus, 153–86Google Scholar . Jerome's characterization of Artemis Ephesia as a “whore,” then, can be understood as an additional rhetorical assault upon the stature and role of Artemis Ephesia as legitimate wife of the city of Ephesus.

91 , Seltman, “The Wardrobe of Artemis,” 41.Google Scholar

Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Images of Artemis Ephesia and Greco-Roman Worship: A Reconsideration*
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

The Images of Artemis Ephesia and Greco-Roman Worship: A Reconsideration*
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

The Images of Artemis Ephesia and Greco-Roman Worship: A Reconsideration*
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *