Scala, Art Resource, New York, NY

Artemis, the Ephesian nature/fertility/mother goddess (shown here, compare with photo of Artemis Temple remains). This grotesque—but elegant—statue of the goddess, who was called Diana by the Romans, is one of several that have been uncovered, in excavations. The many bulbous objects protruding from Artemis/Diana’s torso may represent breasts or eggs or even clumps of dates; certainly they are emblems of the goddess’s association with the mystery of fertility. This life-size statue undoubtedly is a replica of the larger cult statue that stood in the temple of Artemis in Paul’s time.

The goddess’s lower body is fused into a pillar shape, perhaps emulating the gigantic tree trunk from which the temple Artemis may have been carved. Signs of the zodiac encircle her neck; crowning her head is a walled edifice that may represent her sacred precinct. A menagerie of natural and mythical creatures adorns Artemis: bees, lions, bulls, stags, sphinxes and chimeras.