By the later first century AD, Ephesus had become an important center for early Christianity. The Apostle Paul spent his longest missionary tour in Ephesus. According to Acts, Paul's preaching drew the wrath of the artisans of Ephesus, whose livelihood depended on the Temple of Artemis. The riot occurred in the Great Theater, which still stands. In the book of Revelation, Ephesus was one of the seven churches addressed by Christ.
Ephesus continued to play an important role in Christian history after the time of the apostles. From an early date, St. John was said to have lived and died in Ephesus and pilgrims visited his tomb. In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian built a great basilica over John's tomb, remains of which can be seen today.

Ignatius of Antioch wrote a letter written by to the Ephesians in the early 2nd century AD, John Chrysostom visited in the city in 401, and Ephesus was the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council (431), which resulted in the condemnation of Nestorius and the official approval of the term "Mother of God" (Theotokos) for the Virgin Mary. The council took place in the Double Church of the Virgin, which was probably built shortly before the bishops arrived.

According to a later legend, the Virgin Mary had joined the Apostle John in Ephesus. A house about 7 km from Seljuk, just outside Ephesus, is believed by many Catholics and Muslims to have been the last home of the Virgin Mary. The current structure, known as the House of the Virgin, dates to the 7th century and is believed to be built on the site of her house. It became an official place of Catholic pilgrimage in 1892 and has been visited by the Pope.

By the early Middle Ages, the port of Ephesus had silted up and the city had gone into decline. The remains of the Temple of Artemis sunk into the marsh and disappeared completely from sight. Much of the city was abandoned after the Arab raids of the 7th century, and Ephesus was just a small town when the Seljuk conquered it in 1069.

Artemis was also called Cynthia, from her birth place, Mount Cynthus in Delos. She was Apollo's twin sister, daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was one of the three maiden goddesses of Olympus: the pure maiden Vesta, gray-eyed Athena who cares but for war and the arts of the craftsmen, and Artemis, lover of woods and the wild chase over the mountain. She was the Lady of Wild Things, Huntsman-in-chief to the gods, an odd office for a woman. As a huntress her favorite animal was the stag, because its swiftness gave the best opportunity for her method of capture, which was by her silver bow and arrows and speed of foot.

As Phoebus was the Sun, she was the Moon called Phoebe and Selene (Luna) representing the evening and night, carrying a torch, and clad in long heavy robes, with a veil covering the back of her head. Neither name originally belonged to her.

Phoebe was a Titan, one of the older gods. So too was Selene, a moon-goddess, indeed, but not connected with Apollo. She was the sister of Helios, the sun-god with whom Apollo was confused.

She was worshipped in Athens, Corinth, and Thebes as goddess of strict upbringing, of good fame, of upright mind, and of sensibility in the affairs of ordinary life. She chased and fired her arrows at all wild and unchecked creatures and actions.

In the later poets, Artemis is identified with Hecate. She is "the goddess with three forms", Selene in the sky, Artemis on earth, Hecate in the lower world and in the world above when it is wrapped in darkness. Hecate was the Goddess of the dark of the Moon, the black nights when the moon is hidden. She was associated with deeds of darkness, the Goddess of the Crossways, which were held to be ghostly places of evil magic.
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