Can you please analyze this statue of Artemis and a deer in the Metropolitan Museum of Art—what does the statue "say" to you?Can you please analyze this statue of Artemis and a deer in...

Can you please analyze this statue of Artemis and a deer in the Metropolitan Museum of Art—what does the statue "say" to you?

Can you please analyze this statue of Artemis and a deer in the Metropolitan Museum of Art—what does the status "say" to you?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Artemis is a goddess from Greek mythology. She is... of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities.

She is the Roman counterpart of Diana.  The chaste Artemis, described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister to Apollo (god of the sun, light, truth and the arts, among others), was credited as the patron goddess of many things, including:

...the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women...

Artemis would later be associated with the Greek moon goddess, Selene, and would often be portrayed with a crescent moon resting above her head; her "symbols" included...

...the golden bow and arrow, the hunting dog, the stag, and the moon...

Other statues of Artemis are usually seen carrying a bow and arrows, as goddess of the hunt, and several sources point out that this statue appears to have once had a bow in the statue's left hand. Next to her is a deer. As the goddess of wild animals, the deer was sacred to her. It is noted that another, smaller animal, may once have been situated on the other side: perhaps a hunting dog, as this was also one of her symbols. The statue was constructed "by means of the lost wax method," with separate parts made and then joined together with "flow welds." It is for this reason, perhaps, that not all of the original pieces of the statue remain. It is said that the statue was...

...found in Rome near the church of Saint John the Lateran...

Artemis is usually depicted as "striding," but with this statue, she is standing, weight on her right foot, while her left foot trails slightly behind her.

The ancient Greeks believed, as many cultures have since then, that the right side was dominant over the left side—and the right was associated with luck, light, etc., as opposed the the associations with the left side such as unlucky, dark, etc. Some cultures and religions have connected the right side to "goodness," and the left side to "evil." With regard to the Greeks, Robert Hertz, wrote Revue Philosophique lxviii (1909), which translated into English means Death and the Right Hand, and stated that...

….the right is often thought to be the seat of sacred power, "the source of everything that is good, favourable and legitimate"...

Therefore, we can then understand that Artemis is moving forward with a purposeful intent that reflects her "sacred power." One source also notes that she is looking upward, not as if dreaming, but in an epiphanous manner. While "epiphany" often relates to a sudden insight, it is also defined as the "appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity." We could also assume then that the goddess may simply have just "appeared" in that moment, captured by the artist's imagination. Or that she is, in fact, in the midst of a moment of enlightenment. In viewing this statue, I see Artemis depicted with the essence of strength and power with which the Greeks associated her. Her figure is presented with "the high classicizing style," and with her windblown clothes, we can assume that she is outdoors and in her element. This work of art also tells me that Artemis was respected and admired by the artist, and therefore the Greek culture—also as seen by the wealth of stories that surround her, and the many artistic representations of her, such as this one.

Additional Sources:

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because I teach history and the social sciences, artworks are interesting to me for what they say about a culture and its beliefs.  Therefore, what this statue "says" to me has to do with those sorts of issues.

First, it says to me that this was not a prudish society.  Artemis's clothes are molded very closely to her body and the artist seems to be inviting us to admire her physique.  This tells me that the society was one which admired the human form and did not seek to hide it.

Second, it implies to me that women had some status in the society, or at least in the society's mythology.  Artemis is portrayed as a strong and vigorous person.  This is not a female figure to be put on a pedestal (although she is on a pedestal, I suppose...) but one who is capable of taking care of herself.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Artemis is a Greek goddess known as Diana by the Romans. The goddess of wilderness and the great huntress--statues of Artemis usually show her with a bow--she asked Zeus to grant her eternal virginity and was thus exceedingly protective of herself and her maiden attendants. Actaeon had the misfortune of seeing them while they were bathing in a wilderness pool, and Artemis turned him into a stag deer. She then compelled his hunting dogs to chase and hunt him, through which means he met his ultimate punishment, his death. The impression I take from the wonder of this beautiful statue, with a humbled and adoring young deer (a future repentant stag?) at her side, is that of the power of womanhood and the potential of dreadful power when called for.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous comments are very insightful and suggestive and have said most of what occurred to me when I first looked at the photograph.  I tried to do some digging around to see how this statue has been interpreted by others who are far more perceptive and knowledgable about art than I am.  This link seemed especially interesting:

This link is even more detailed and seems to be the source of the first link:


mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear that Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, for she stands well over the awestruck deer.  That she is commanding comes from the wind swept clothes that do not in any way hamper her own forward movement.  At the same time, there is a grace and fluidity to this bronze statue. The use of space with the two statues is well-balanced; Artemis's symmetry is perfect, and the little deer is attentive to her movements with its ears pointed to her.

megan-bright eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Not only was Artemis the goddess of the hunt, wilderness, and wild animals, but she was also considered the goddess in regards to childbirth, virginity, young girls, and relieving disease in women. When I look at the brilliant sculpture, I feel empowerment as a woman.