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Temple of Artemis

Ancient Wonders of Earth


Temple of Artemis


Christianity and the temple

Saint John Chrysostom, who led a Christian mob to destroy the Temple of ArtemisThe temple figures in several Christian stories, and it would be a famous Christian archbishop that ultimately destroyed it.

In the Bible, Acts 19 speaks of an Ephesian mob attacking Saint Paul's traveling companions after merchants became fearful that Paul's preaching would harm the sale of religious icons related to the temple. A significant disturbance ensued, with Ephesians chanting, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" A city official eventually calmed the crowd by arguing that Christian preaching posed no real threat: "Doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image?"

Another anecdote concerning the temple appears in the New Testament apocrypha. According to the second-century Acts of John, Saint Paul had prayed publicly in the Artemis' temple itself, exorcising its demons. "Of a sudden the altar of Artemis split in many pieces... and half the temple fell down," instantly converting the Ephesians, who wept, prayed or took flight. Over the course of the fourth century, the majority of Ephesians did convert to Christianity. The pagan temples were declared closed by Theodosius I in 391.

In 401, the temple was finally destroyed by a Christian mob inspired by "golden-tongued" Saint John Chrysostom, who had recently come to Ephesus as its archbishop. Its marble stones were used in construction of other buildings, and some of the columns in Hagia Sophia originally belonged to the temple of Artemis.

Architecture and art
Most of the physical description and art within the Temple of Artemis comes from Pliny, though there are different accounts and the actual size varies. Pliny describes the temple as 377 feet long and 180 feet wide, made almost entirely of marble. The temple consisted of 127 Ionic-styled columns, each 60 feet in height.

The Temple of Artemis housed many fine artworks. Sculptures by renowned Greek sculptors Polyclitus, Pheidias, Cresilas, and Phradmon adorned the temple, as well as paintings and gilded columns of gold and silver. The sculptors often competed at creating the finest sculpture. Many of these sculptures were of Amazons, who are said to have founded the city of Ephesus.

Pliny tells us that Scopas, who also worked on the Mausoleum of Mausollos, worked carved reliefs into the temple's columns. Athenagoras of Athens names Endoeus, a pupil of Daedalus, as the sculptor of the main statue of Artemis in Ephesus.



September 30, 2006

Ephesian Artemis

An eighteenth-century engraving of a Roman marble copy of a Greek replica of the Lady of EphesusArtemis was the Greek goddess, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo, who substituted for the Titan Selene as Goddess of the Moon. Of the Olympian goddesses who inherited aspects of the Great Goddess of Crete, Athene, was more honored than Artemis at Athens. At Ephesus, a goddess whom the Greeks associated with Artemis was passionately venerated in an archaic, certainly pre-Hellenic cult image that was carved of wood, and kept decorated with jewelry. Most similar to Near-Eastern and Egyptian deities, and least like Greek ones, her body and legs were enclosed within a tapering, pillar-like enclosure from which her feet protrude, and her breast was covered with many egg-shaped forms. On the coins minted at Ephesus, the apparently many-breasted goddess wears a mural crown (like a city's walls), an attribute of Cybele (see polos). On the coins she rests either arm on a staff formed of entwined serpents or of a stack of ouroboroi, the eternal serpent with its tail in its mouth. Like Cybele, the goddess at Ephesus was served by a lineage of slaves. However, depictions of the Lady of Ephesus varied greatly over time.

The "eggs" of the Lady of Ephesus, it now appears, must be the iconographic descendants of the amber, gourd-shaped drops, elliptical in cross-section and drilled for hanging, that were rediscovered in 1987-88; they remained in place where the ancient wooden cult figure of the Lady of Ephesus had been caught by an eighth-century flood. This form of breast-jewelry, then, had already been developed by the Geometric Period.

The Greek habits of syncretism assimilated all foreign gods under some form of the Olympian pantheon familiar to them. It is clear that at Ephesus, the identification that the Ionian settlers made of the "Lady of Ephesus" with Artemis was slender.

The Christians stood out from all contemporaries in their unique approach to gods that were not theirs. A Christian inscription at Ephesus suggests why so little remains at the site:

Destroying the delusive image of the demon Artemis, Demeas has erected this symbol of Truth, the God that drives away idols, and the Cross of priests, deathless and victorious sign of Christ.

The assertion that the Ephesians thought their cult image had fallen from the sky represents a familiar origin-myth at other sites. However, it is known in relation to Ephesus only from Acts 19:35, which states: "And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: 'Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus?'"

Cult and influence

The Temple of Artemis was located in an economically robust region, seeing merchants and travelers from all over Asia Minor. Influenced by many beliefs, the temple can be seen as a symbol of faith for many different peoples. The Ephesians worshiped Cybele, and incorporated many of their beliefs into the worship of Artemis. In so doing, the Artemisian Cybele became quite contrasted from her Roman counterpart, Diana. The cult of Artemis attracted thousands of worshipers from far-off lands. They would all gather at the site and worship her.


The site of the temple was rediscovered in 1869 by an expedition sponsored by the British Museum led by John Turtle Wood, and while several artifacts and sculptures from the reconstructed temple can be seen there today, as for the original site, only a single column remains from the final reconstruction of the temple itself.

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Temple of Artemis. (2009, May 13). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:16, May 24, 2009 from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Temple_of_Artemis?oldid=942055. Link to this site---Terms of Service---Privacy policy---Contact Us

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