It struck me, as once again I was told that my depictions of Leto tend to look hard in demeanor. I was instantly insulted. “Look here,” I said, “this is the goddess of motherhood and all mothers. She does not look mean!” He says ” Yeah she does, and mothers are mean.”
This really made me think. Why on earth did I have this assumption that she would be some kind of sweet dainty lady. Especially given that my art always depicts her quite in opposite. When you think of it we really do not know how the ancient worshipers saw her. She has been mostly lauded in terms that just demonstrate her role as mother of Apollon and Artemis rather than of her personality. This is rather strange that such a popular goddess has so little said of her nature directly. There is a tendency therefore to latch onto descriptions of Leto as mild, kindly, and fair of appearance…. yet when you think of it, even as she posseses these vague qualities , myth has demonstrated her as being a harsh unmoving goddess at times with iron will.
This is the goddess who stubbornly trekked over the earth heavy with child. This is the goddess who when her children were threatened in the face of lack of necessities in Lycia turned an entire village into frogs. This is a goddess who interceded between father and son that Zeus not throw Apollon into the depths of Tartaros. This is a goddess who in the hymn to Apollon stood by the side of Zeus, unflinching in the face of ire from Hera. This is the goddess that though her opponent Hermes refused to fight took an active part in the warring in the Iliad. A goddess who delights in the hunt with her daughter. She punishes and takes back her gifts of plenty… think of Niobe.
This is not a soft coddling goddess. She is the creative breath of the earth, light producing when mingling with aether. She possesses the soft nurturing and hard unyeilding characteristics of a mother. She is as the lioness.