The Temple of Artemis was constructed at the point where an ancient temple devoted to Cybele, goddess of abundance, was located. The Carians and the Lelegians, who inhabited the area before the Ionians worshipped that goddess and they used to call her the Great mother”.
The Ionians named that goddess “Artemis” and when the Lydian king Croesus invaded the city, the temple, which was surrounded by walls and a wooden statue devoted to Artemis had been placed in it, was destroyed by a flood. Croesus started constructing the new stone temple at the same position and adorned it with columns, in the 7th century BC.
Artemis Temple (also known as the Temple of Diana) was included among the Seven Wonders of the World. It was 115 m long and 55 m wide. Its construction lasted 120 years and its architectural order was Ionic Dipteros with double column-rows on each long and triple column-rows along the wide sides. The Temple of Artemis consisted of 127 columns with a diameter of 1.20 m and 19 m tall.
However, a man named Herostratus, who indented to become famous and wished his name to be immortal, burnt the temple in 356 BC, at the very night Alexander the Great was born. For this reason, Ephesians used to say that Artemis did not manage to save her temple because she was busy as she was far away, at the place where Alexander was given birth. Ephesians started reconstructing the temple of Artemis, which should be the same as the old one, and they created an incomparable beauty.
Alexander the Great had visited Ephesus in 334 BC, after having defeated the Persians. Impressed by the Temple he organized a parade in order to pay honors to the goddess and promised Ephesians to reconstruct the temple. Yet, Ephesians refused that offer telling Alexander that it was not fair for a god to build a temple for another god.
During the Roman era, Nero pillaged the temple of Artemis and later on the Goths destroyed it.
Artemis was mainly known as the goddess of hunting. She was born by Leto and Zeus. Apollo was her twin brother. According to the myth, Zeus had desired to lay with his cousin Leto. After their coupling, Leto was pregnant but Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, had punished her by prohibiting any place of the earth, seen by the sun, accepting her giving birth to her child.
After long wanderings, Leto resorted to her sister Asteria, who had become a floating rock in order to avoind Zeuss pursuing. Asteria, anchored in the bottom of the sea and accepted her sister who initially gave birth to Artemis and the goddess helped her mother to give birth to Apollo too. Once born, Artemis was said to be the embodiment of the moon and Apollo the embodiment of the sun.
Artemis is also known as the mood goddess as well and it was said that the silver belonged to her and that Artemis owned a silver chariot which she used to ride at night shooting arrows of silver light.
Artemies had decided to stay unmarried and preferred to live in the forests accompanied by young girls called dryads. Known as the Lady of the Wild, the wild animals were sacred to her and she punished the people who killed more than that they could eat.
Contrary to the Athenian Artemis who was a virgin, Artemis of Ephesus was considered to be the Great Mother and a sculpture depicts her with many breast signifying that she was the mother of the life.
The Romans used to name the goddess Diana instead of Artemis.