Once long ago, concealed on an island, a woman groaned in the agony of birth. She was called Leto and her twins were the illegitimate children of Zeus. The first that came forth was a strong and healthy girl and she immediately became her mother’s midwife to assist in the birth of her brother Apollo. It was a prelude to the role she would go on to play as the protector of women in childbirth.
That girl is called Artemis, the Hellenistic deity known in Roman mythology as Diana. She is the “goddess of the hunt, goddess of virginity, goddess of childbirth, goddess of the moon, [and] goddess of the sacred stag.” She is pictured with a bow and arrow and travels in a company of virgin huntresses and apparently I’m supposed to portray her in our story.
I’ve joined this production a little late in the game so trying to comprehend Artemis well enough to become her for the sake of this story has to be an expedited process, and it’s quite the emotional rush. It’s sort of fun to explore the ways in which we are the same and the ways in which we are different. The gods and goddesses of ancient Greek and Roman mythology are anthropomorphic—possessing of the jealousies and the tempers and the shortcomings of mankind only with the strength and power to react to disappointment in much more powerful and affecting ways than we do in our daily lives.
Artemis is a challenge for me, I have always preferred the company of men in my life, I grew up with lots of brothers and I’ve always been close with my Dad and most of my very best friends have been boys. Artemis meets all men with suspicion and ruthlessness and that’s something about her that I have a hard time relating to. I’ve decided instead to look at her interactions and reactions in terms of her fiercely protective attitude toward women rather than a hatred for men. I think it is no coincidence that she is asked to accompany Phoebe (our protagonist) on this important journey and be there to encourage her and remind her of the strength and potential and merit she has as a woman and as someone the gods have trusted with truth.
Artemis is elusive to characterize as an actress, nothing like being asked to hunt the chief huntress, but I look forward to the challenge.