Artemis--Diana to the Romans-- was a goddess of many contradictions, wielding the power to both protect and destory. She was the beloved twin sister of the sun-god Appollo, and was herself the goddess of the moon. She was revered as a huntress and often depicted with a bow--Homer called her Artemis Iokheaira, meaning the far-shooting. In the Iliad, she is described as "a lion among women, given leave to kill any at your pleasure...you hunt down the beasts in the mountains and the deer in the wild." By night, Artemis drove the moon by chariot, much as her twin brother did the sun--by day, she hunted in the wilderness, accompanied by her handmaiden nymphs.
Artemis was a chaste goddess and fiercely protective of her purity, going so far as to turn a hunter who accidentally espied her bathing into a stag and then setting his own hounds upon him. Yet strangely enough, she was also associated with fertility and childbirth. Women invoked her name when praying for an easy childbirth--at the same time, mothers who died in childbirth were said to have been struck by an arrow of Artemis.
On the one hand, Artemis was the patron goddess of young girls and maidens, charged with protecting them and granting them good health. Yet she was also their destroyer--the sudden death of a girl child was believed to be brought on by Artemis.
Not surprisingly, this powerful huntress was also the patron goddess of the Amazonian warrior maidens.
Another unusual power of hers--she caused rabies in dogs!
She is usually depicted with hunting dogs, a bow and quiver, and wearing a shorter skirt.