In the first version of the story Kallisto swore to preserve her virginity for as long as she remained in the company of the goddess. But after she was seduced by the god Zeus, she kept the fact hidden. Her condition was eventually revealed during the bath and Artemis, in her fury, transformed Kallisto into a bear. Hunters then caught and delivered her and her son Arkas to King Lykaon. Later, when the boy was grown, Kallisto inadvertently wandered into the sanctuary of Zeus Lykaios and Arkas, not knowing the bear's identity, would have killed her for the sacrilege had not Zeus immediately transferred the pair to the stars.
In a comedic version of the previous story, Zeus seduced Kallisto in the guise of the goddess Artemis. When her pregnancy was revealed in the bath, Kallisto blamed the goddess of the offence. She was naturally incensed by such an accusation and turned the girl into a bear.
In yet a third version, when Kallisto was seduced by the god Zeus, his jealous wife Hera angrily transformed her into a bear and persuaded the goddess Artemis to shoot her. Zeus sent Hermes to recover the child Arkas from her womb and delivered him into the care of the goddess Maia. Kallisto was again placed amongst the stars.
In a slight variation of the last, Zeus turned Kallisto into a bear when Hera came across them as they were consorting. The goddess was not fooled by the switch and persuaded Artemis to shoot her.
In the chronology of myth Kallisto lived in the time before the Great Deluge which, some say, was brought on by her father King Lykaon who had served Zeus a meal of human flesh. After the catastrophe, Arkas claimed his throne and ruled a new generation of Pelasgian tribesmen born of the oaks. His descendants ruled the kingdom right down to the time of the Trojan War.
CALLISTO (Kallistô), is sometimes called a daughter of Lycaon in Arcadia and sometimes of Nycteus or Ceteus, and sometimes also she is described as a nymph. (Schol. ad Eurip. Orest. 1642; Apollod. iii. 8. § 2; comp. Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 1.) She was a huntress, and a companion of Artemis. Zeus, however, enjoyed her charms; and, in order that the deed might not become known to Hera, he metamorphosed her into a she-bear. But, notwithstanding this precaution, Callisto was slain by Artemis during the chase, through the contrivance of Hera. Arcas, the son of Callisto, was given by Zeus to Maia to be brought up, and Callisto was placed among the stars under the name of Arctos. (Apollod. l. c.) According to Hyginus, Artemis herself metamorphosed Callisto, as she discovered her pregnancy in the bath. Ovid (Met. ii. 410, &c.) makes Juno (Hera) metamorphose Callisto; and when Arcas during the chase was on the point of killing his mother, Jupiter (Zeus) placed both among the stars. The Arcadians showed the tomb of Callisto thirty stadia from the well Cruni: it was on a hill planted with trees, and on the top of the hill there was a temple of Artemis Calliste or Callisto. (Paus. viii. 35. § 7.) A statue of Callisto was dedicated at Delphi by the citizens of Tegea (x. 9. § 3), and in the Lesche of Delphi Callisto was painted by Polygnotus, wearing the skin of a bear instead of a dress. (x. 31. § 3.) While tradition throughout describes Callisto as a companion of Artemis, Müller (Dor. ii. 9. § 3) endeavours to show that Callisto is only another form of the name of Artemis Calliste, as he infers from the fact, that the tomb of the heroine was connected with the temple of the goddess, and from Callisto being changed into a she-bear, which was the symbol of the Arcadian Artemis. This view has indeed nothing surprising, if we recollect that in many other instances also an attribute of a god was transformed by popular belief into a distinct divinity. Her being mixed up with the Arcadian genealogies is thus explained by Müller: the daughter of Lycaon means the daughter of the Lycaean Zeus; the mother of Arcas is equivalent to the mother of the Arcadian people.