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Actaeon and Artemis

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Artemis' Judgment

Actaeon, grandson of Cadmus, was wandering through an unknown part of the woods and tumbled upon Artemis and her nymphs while they were bathing in a nearby stream. When the nymphs saw Actaeon they quickly covered Artemis' body using theirs. Unfortunately, Artemis was too tall that her head was not covered and saw Actaeon staring at her nude body. With embarrassment and rage, Artemis turned Actaeon into a stage taking along his human ability to speak. In panic, Actaeon quickly ran away from angry goddess and encountered his loyal companions and dogs. However, with his appearance, his friends could not identify that the stage was in fact Actaeon no matter so hard he cried out. In pain and agony, Actaeon was slowly devoured and bitten to death by the mouths of his own dogs in front of his human friends. Being that Artemis is the goddess of chastity, many said that her judgment and punishment upon Actaeon was righteous. While others said that her judgment was rather too rash and harsh for a crime that was indeed a honest mistake. According to Ovid in the passage of "Metamorphoses," he believed that Actaeon made a mistake rather than committed a crime for he was "uncertain of his way and wandering through the unfamiliar woods; so fate carried him along" (155-180). Furthermore, Ovid believed that it was misfortune for Actaeon to encountered the goddess, Diana, also known as Artemis, because every mortal that encountered an immortal were either punished or transformed, rarely were they ever rewarded. This may be because the Greeks wanted to show their gods' fearsome power or teach a life lesson in order to maintain order within society. In this case, the story showed Artemis' fearsome power as a goddess, such as the fact of how easily she can take away a person's ability to speak and their appearance. Also, to how one cannot avoid or control fate, such as how fate led Actaeon to Artemis, which led to his transformation and death. Therefore, one question still remains unanswered and a mystery. Did Actaeon knew where he was going or was he led there by fate? Be updated next week for more findings of this one of many stories where a human is punished when he or she is encountered by a powerful and fearful god or goddess.

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