Saturday, June 9, 2012

Katniss Everdeen and the Goddess Artemis

Part Two: Bold and Impetuous; Moral and Immoral

Katniss and Artemis both gain reputations for being highly skilled archers. Both are bold and impetuous. Katniss, angry at being ignored by potential sponsors whose largess can mean the difference between life and death in the Hunger Games, shoots an arrow into their midst. The arrow pierces the apple in the mouth of the banquet pig. Katniss then stalks out. The rash act seals her fate and reputation. Later in book one of the series, when Katniss is plunged into the Hunger Games arena and knows she must kill or be killed, her morals prevent her from directly murdering anyone. Instead, she acts in self-defense, protects a tribute that reminds her of Prim, and eventually joins forces with Peeta.

Artemis fails to live by a similar moral code. Although she is supposed to be the protector of the vulnerable, especially women in childbirth and girls, Artemis sometimes slips into her Shadow Self. The goddess is easily taunted and quick to avenge insults, especially those made by prideful humans. Homer wrote in the Iliad, that Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo, became incensed when the human, Niobe, wife of Amphion, insulted their mother, Leto. Niobe had boasted that she was better than Leto because Leto had born only two children, and Niobe twelve. (In other accounts, the number is fourteen.) According to Homer, “Niobe’s twelve children were destroyed in her palace, six daughters and six sons in the pride of their youth, whom Apollon (Apollo) killed with arrows from his silver bow…and Artemis shaft-showering killed the daughters…”

Bringers of Light
Zeus may have granted Artemis the title, Bearer of Light, but it is Katniss, who, over the course of The Hunger Games trilogy, truly becomes the Bearer of Light. Katniss’s journey takes her from being an impulsive, impoverished, fiercely protective Maiden Huntress, the Girl on Fire, to the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion. Used as a pawn first by the Capitol then by the rebels, it appears Katniss may never be free. As her definition of family expands, so does her role as protector. Every moment, Katniss faces her mortality and that of the people she loves. Each step of the way, the once untamed child becomes a reluctant leader. As she steps into the responsibilities that come with being a symbol of the rebellion, she sheds light on truths that have been kept hidden.

Although Katniss possesses many Maiden Goddess attributes, in true mortal fashion, she cannot remain an eternal child. She leaves that luxury to those who can afford it—goddesses like Artemis and Diana.
Copyright 2012 Ariella Moon

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