Thu 8 Oct 2009
As you’ll see by comparing the photo here with my previous post on this Artemis, there are certain elements that repeat themselves in the images of Artemis Ephesia from about the mid-second century BCE on into the Roman era. She is pictured standing upright with legs together, with upper arms tight against the body, and with her lower arms outstretched. The statues have elaborate costumes decorated with animals, and there are those mysterious protuberances that have led to characterizations of this deity as the many-breasted goddess. As in the previous statue I posted, these elements are also evident in the statue above that is now housed in the Vatican museum in Rome. Here you find a crowned Artemis with garments decorated with lions on the upper arms and deer-like creatures lining the front. Mythological and other figures appear on her sides and on her upper chest.
Although far from conclusive, there are hints here that the artist of this piece (and those who viewed this Artemis) may not have thought of the protuberances as breasts, since they are considerably low (and another statue of Artemis Ephesia which is now in the Antikenmuseum in Basel, Switzerland has even more clearly low-hanging protuberances that miss the chest area altogether). The next statue photos will provide more conclusive suggestions regarding this issue. Stay tuned.
My discussions of the statues are informed by the important work of Robert Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos und verwandte Kultstatuen aus Anatolien und Syrien (EPRO 35; Leiden: Brill, 1973) and by Lynn R. LiDonnici, “The Images of Artemis Ephesia and Greco-Roman Worship: A Reconsideration,” Harvard Theological Review 85 (1992), 389-415.