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Greek Gods» Apollo» Myths about Apollo » The Birth of the Twins Apollo and Artemis

Page last updated on: March 24th, 2021

The Birth of the Twins Apollo and Artemis

Apollo and Artemis were two twins, born of Zeus, king of the gods, and Leto, a daughter of Titans s Coeus and Phoebe.

Leto was a very kind and loving deity but was hated by Hera, Zeus' wife, for seducing her husband. So when Leto got pregnant and Hera found out, she specifically forbade any place under the sun to harbor the sinful woman. She even held her daughter Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, tightly in her arms to prevent her from assisting Leto in her labor.

Zeus took pity on Leto and transformed her into a quail (ortyx) to bear her children. However, there seemed to be no place in all of Greece willing to provide shelter for Leto, so she wandered desperately and aimlessly...

Eventually, Leto discovered a tiny Cycladic island near Mykonos called "Asteria" (or Ortygia, derived from Leto's transformation into a quail).

This island was battered by the waves and blown by the wind and did not even have a fixed position in the sea, yet it was ready to receive the woman. When Leto settled on the island, the island became solid and its name was changed to "Delos" - "the unconcealed one".

Leto (Latona) and her children- detail of the painting by Jan BruegelFor nine days and nine nights, Leto suffered intense pain, until on the tenth day she went near a small lake, leaned against a palm tree, loosened her belt, and gave birth to Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt.

Artemis then acted as a midwife for her mother to give birth to her brother Apollo. For this reason, she was declared the new goddess of childbirth, taking the place of Hera's daughter Eilithyia.




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