Thursday, June 4, 2015

Microstory 74: Artemis and the Stag

Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. She was often seen with bows, arrows, deer, and hunting dogs. She was also very beautiful. One day, she was bathing in a sacred spring when a human hunter named Actaeon accidentally came upon her. As Actaeon was a rival of Artemis’ father, Zeus, she felt particularly slighted for this invasion of privacy. As punishment for his transgression, Artemis turned Actaeon into a stag. Actaeon’s hunting hounds fell into a frenzy, and began snapping and barking at their master, not knowing that it was he who was once in charge of them. Actaeon began to run, and Artemis led the pursuit of him with his, as well as her own, hounds. They say that the chase lasted for days. When he could finally take no more, and stopped to rest in a clearing, his hounds caught up to him. They circled him and waited for instructions, until one of the dogs stopped. She sniffed at the stag, and licked his nose. She looked right into his eyes, realizing that it was Actaeon, and not prey. The clever hound relayed this new information to the rest of the pack, and they turned their attention to the Artemis and her pack. When the pack arrived, Actaeon’s dogs attacked them, fiercely protecting their master. As a result of their loyalty and love, Actaeon shifted back into human form. He called his hounds back from the fight and apologized to Artemis who walked away a bitter and unsatisfied deity.

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