Temple of Artemis / Diana

Temple of Artemis / Diana

Cayster River Ephesus Theater
Temple of Artemis / Diana

Temple of Artemis / Diana - Ephesus

Ephesus' Temple of Artemis / Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is commemorated today by a rusty sign and a few column fragments stacked on a crude cement base.

During its heyday, the Temple of Artemis / Diana looked somewhat different. It had 127 Ionic columns, each towering 60 feet tall, and covered an area 130 x 60 yards, massive for the era. In fact, the Temple of Artemis / Diana in Ephesus was four times larger than the Parthenon in Athens, Greece (For those unfamiliar with the Parthenon, the area covered by the Temple of Artemis / Diana was about the size of a football field, including the end zones).

This temple was originally built in the 8th century BC and dedicated to Artemis, a goddess in Greek mythology whom the Ephesians worshipped as a fertility idol. Destroyed by a flood in the 7th century BC, the temple was rebuilt, destroyed again in the 4th century BC, this time by an arsonist seeking vainglory, and rebuilt again.

By the 1st century AD, Romans ruled Ephesus and had substituted their goddess Diana for the Greeks' Artemis. The substitution appears to have been fine with the local silversmiths as long as they could continue to peddle miniature shrines of Diana / Artemis.

Their profit margin appears to have been squeezed, however, when the Apostle Paul came to town and preached against idolatry:

"And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.” Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater." (Acts 19:23-31)

Click here to see what that Theater of Ephesus looks like today.

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