Study Guide

Artemis and Actaeon Fate

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In the most popular version of this myth, Actaeon is just walking along, minding his own business, when he stumbles upon Artemis bathing. Although he's totally blameless in this situation, Artemis still turns him into a deer as punishment. Actaeon was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that's all it took for him to go from a happy, prosperous young lad to a scared, confused deer.

When we look at it this way, we get an interesting comment on fate and tragic circumstances. Neither Artemis nor Actaeon set out to have a bad day or to harm or embarrass the other. And yet, due to an unfortunate situation, that's exactly what happens—and Actaeon ends up losing everything.

Questions About Fate

  1. Of all the places Actaeon could have found himself, he wandered into Artemis's grotto. Do you think this was coincidence, or was it fated to happen?
  2. If it was fated, why? What lessons did Actaeon need to learn through this encounter?
  3. What other stories from Greek mythology have the theme of fate? How is the Actaeon story similar to or different from these stories?

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