So, the Boss has decided that we here at Artemis Games have to write something every week: Something at least tangentially related to fantasy. I have persuaded him that this would be an ideal space for me to geek out about mythology. So, I’m going to use this new spot, Mythic Mondays to work my way through an alphabet of gods.
My choices might not be yours – I’m going for a spread of different belief systems. For anyone who follows Norse or Greek paganism – or any of the other faiths I discuss – rest assured that when I say ‘myth’, I mean ‘cool stories involving gods’
Reality is Complicated
Fantasy gods usually have one or two domains, because they are designed to be the power behind clerics and paladins. Real world gods are not nearly so neat. Often the deity we know is a composite of different cults. For the classics, this is exacerbated when the Romans imported the Greek gods – and added modifications of their own.
Artemis is a nice example of such a goddess – she claims dominion over forests and the chase, the moon, hunters and their prey, wilderness and woodsmen. Eternally virginal, but also goddess of protection in childbirth.
Childbirth? Well, Hera would likely be your patron in the eastern islands, especially around Samos. But if you were Spartan, you would likely pray to Artemis to help you birth fine warriors. If you burned charcoal, or were a hermit, you might ask her for protection from wild beasts. She is, however, best known as a huntress – we’ve chosen her as our patron as the protector of game.
Tale of the God – Rules are Rules
Actaeon was a mighty hunter – he would roam the forests of Western Greece in pursuit of boar or bear, would trap rabbit for flesh and fur, but most of all he loved to chase deer with his faithful hounds. One day whilst in the deep wilderness, his hounds came upon a scent, and so intent were the hunter and his pack on the chase, they followed it into groves which were forbidden to mortals.
The hunter stumbled after them until he found himself in a small clearing and stood agape at the naked beauty before him. Artemis was there, bathing in a shallow pool.
“No man may see me bathe and live to boast of it!” Seizing an olive branch as a wand she waved in the direction of Actaeon. He found himself bending forwards, his hands and feet began turning to hooves, and from his crown burst forth a pair of magnificent antlers. The predator had become the prey.
Artemis whistled, and Actaeon recognised his own summons to his hounds. He heard them calling to one another, and he ran for his life. The pack could see nothing but another fine stag to bring down. Faster he ran, but the hounds were swifter still. As they had many times before, they cornered their prey and pinned it down as they awaited their master. Eventually they tired of waiting for their master’s permission, and began to tear into the flesh of the whimpering stag.
In Your Games and Stories
Artemis is a suitable deity-model for druids and rangers. She can appear alongside her fellow Olympians, but is more likely to be found in a remote wilderness temple or a hermitage. All the Greek pantheon accepted sacrifice of precious materials, so even the wildest of temples could feature gold, gems, and especially ivory.
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