Saturday, March 28, 2015


Light-Bearing Artemis

Euripides, Iphigenia Among the Taurians 20-21 (Calchas to Agamemnon), tr. David Kovacs, with his note, in Euripides, Trojan Women. Iphigenia Among the Taurians. Ion (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 154-155:
                              ὅ τι γὰρ ἐνιαυτὸς τέκοι
κάλλιστον, ηὔξω φωσφόρῳ θύσειν θεᾷ.

You vowed to the light-bearing goddess3 that you would sacrifice the fairest thing the year brought forth.

3 Artemis is called "light-bearing" because she carries torches when she hunts at night. The vow to her was made in the year of Iphigenia's birth.
Poulheria Kyriakou, A Commentary on Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006), pp. 58-59:
φωσφόρωι: in her capacity as huntress and goddess of marriage, Artemis is bearer of light (= torches), as is Hecate with whom she is often identified. For the identification see FJW on A. Su. 676 and cf. Aretz (1999) 40 n. 91 and Johnston (1999) 211-13. For Hecate φώσφορος see Kannicht on Hl. 569 and Diggle on Pha. 268 (fr. 781.59). For Artemis see e.g. S. OT 206-7, Tr. 214, Farnell 2.458, 573-74 and for her association with light cf. E. Parisinou, The Light of the Gods (London 2000) 46-48, 81-83, 151-56.
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. φώσφορος:
II. torch-bearing, epith. of certain deities, esp. of Hecate, E.Hel.569, Ar.Th.858, Fr.594a; φ. θεά (sc. Ἄρτεμις) E.IT21, cf. Call.l.c. [Dian.204]; νὴ τὴν Φωσφόρον Ar.Lys.443, Antiph. 58.6; of Hephaestus, Orph.H.66.3: pl., ἱερεὺς Φωσφόρων Hesperia 4.49 (Athens, ii A. D.).
But cf. M. Platnauer, ed., Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris (1938; rpt. Bristol Classical Press, 1999), p. 61:
φωσφόρῳ = Artemis as the moon-goddess. Cf. E.IA 1570, I ὦ θηροκτόνε, | τὸ λαμπρὸν εἱλίσσουσ᾽ ἐν εὐφρόνῃ φάος; Cic. ND. ii.27.68 Dianam ... et Lunam eandem esse putant <Graeci>. See introduction, p. viii [sic, should be p. ix?].
The parallel from Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis 1570-1571, cited by Platnauer, is usually understood as referring to Artemis as moon goddess, e.g. by Kovacs in Euripides, Bacchae. Iphigenia at Aulis. Rhesus (Harvard: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 337 (with his note):
slayer of beasts, who send your bright gleam on its circular path in the night,27...

27 Artemis is being identified with Selene, the moon goddess.
But I wonder if here too Euripides (or his reviser) could be describing Artemis brandishing a torch while hunting at night, i.e.:
slayer of beasts, whirling the gleam of light at night...
In the modern day, at least in some jurisdictions, if Artemis hunted wild beasts at night using a torch, she might be subject to arrest by a game warden for jacklighting. For hunting at night with torches see Eva Parisinou, The Light of the Gods: The Role of Light in Archaic and Classical Greek Culture (London: Duckworth, 2000), pp. 101-105.

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