Amazons

Amazons

Overview

The Amazons (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: , Amazónes, singular , Amazōn) are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 and Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 placed them in a region bordering Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

 in Sarmatia
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 (modern territory of Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

). Other historiographers place them in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

, or Libya
Ancient Libya
The Latin name Libya referred to the region west of the Nile Valley, generally corresponding to modern Northwest Africa. Climate changes affected the locations of the settlements....

.

Notable queens of the Amazons are Penthesilea
Penthesilea
Penthesilea or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe...

, who participated in the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, and her sister Hippolyta
Hippolyta
In Greek mythology, Hippolyta or Hippolyte is the Amazonian queen who possessed a magical girdle she was given by her father Ares, the god of war. The girdle was a waist belt that signified her authority as queen of the Amazons....

, whose magical girdle, given to her by her father Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, was the object of one of the labours of Hercules.
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Encyclopedia

The Amazons (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: , Amazónes, singular , Amazōn) are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 and Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 placed them in a region bordering Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

 in Sarmatia
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 (modern territory of Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

). Other historiographers place them in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

, or Libya
Ancient Libya
The Latin name Libya referred to the region west of the Nile Valley, generally corresponding to modern Northwest Africa. Climate changes affected the locations of the settlements....

.

Notable queens of the Amazons are Penthesilea
Penthesilea
Penthesilea or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe...

, who participated in the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, and her sister Hippolyta
Hippolyta
In Greek mythology, Hippolyta or Hippolyte is the Amazonian queen who possessed a magical girdle she was given by her father Ares, the god of war. The girdle was a waist belt that signified her authority as queen of the Amazons....

, whose magical girdle, given to her by her father Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, was the object of one of the labours of Hercules. Amazonian raiders were often depicted in battle with Greek warriors in amazonomachies
Amazonomachy
An Amazonomachy was a portrayal of legendary battle between Greeks and Amazons...

 in classical art.

The Amazons have become associated with various historical peoples throughout the Roman Empire period and Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

. In Roman historiography
Roman historiography
Roman Historiography is indebted to the Greeks, who invented the form. The Romans had great models to base their works upon, such as Herodotus and Thucydides. Roman historiographical forms are different from the Greek ones however, and voice very Roman concerns. Unlike the Greeks, Roman...

, there are various accounts of Amazon raids in Asia Minor. From the Early Modern period, their name has become a term for woman warrior
Woman warrior
The portrayal of women warriors in literature and popular culture is a subject of study in history, literary studies, film studies, folklore and mythology, gender studies, and cultural studies.-Archaeology:...

s in general.

Etymology


The origin of the word is uncertain. It may be derived from an Iranian
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 ethnonym
Ethnonym
An ethnonym is the name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms and autonyms or endonyms .As an example, the ethnonym for...

 *ha-mazan-, "warriors", a word attested as a denominal verb (formed with the Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

 root kar- "make" also in kar-ma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

) in Hesychius of Alexandria
Hesychius of Alexandria
Hesychius of Alexandria , a grammarian who flourished probably in the 5th century CE, compiled the richest lexicon of unusual and obscure Greek words that has survived...

's gloss ("hamazakaran: 'to make war' (Persian)").
Alternatively, a Greek derivation from "manless, without husbands" (a- privative
Privative a
In Ancient Greek grammar, privative a is the prefix a-  that expresses negation or absence . It is derived from a Proto-Indo-European syllabic nasal *, the zero ablaut grade of the negation *ne, i.e. /n/ used as a vowel...

 and a derivation of *man-
Man (word)
The term man and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age...

also found in Slavic muzh) has been proposed, an explanation deemed "unlikely" by Hjalmar Frisk
Hjalmar Frisk
Hjalmar Frisk was a Swedish linguist in Indo-European studies and rector of Göteborg University 1951-1966..His most noted work was the three-volume "Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch" written in years 1954 - 1972 and published in Heidelberg..In 1968, he became a member of the Royal Swedish...

.
19th century scholarship also connected the term to the ethnonym Amazigh. A further explanation proposes Iranian *ama-janah "virility-killing" as source.

Among Classical Greeks, amazon was given a popular etymology as from a-mazos, "without breast
Breast
The breast is the upper ventral region of the torso of a primate, in left and right sides, which in a female contains the mammary gland that secretes milk used to feed infants.Both men and women develop breasts from the same embryological tissues...

", connected with an etiological
Etiology
Etiology is the study of causation, or origination. The word is derived from the Greek , aitiologia, "giving a reason for" ....

 tradition that Amazons had their right breast cut off
Mastectomy
Mastectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts, partially or completely. Mastectomy is usually done to treat breast cancer; in some cases, women and some men believed to be at high risk of breast cancer have the operation prophylactically, that is, to prevent cancer...

 or burnt out
Breast ironing
Breast ironing is the pounding and massaging of a pubescent girl's breasts using heated objects in an attempt to make them stop developing or disappear...

, so they would be able to use a bow more freely and throw spears without the physical limitation and obstruction; there is no indication of such a practice in works of art, in which the Amazons are always represented with both breasts, although the right is frequently covered.

Origins


Amazons were said to have lived in Pontus
Pontus
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

, which is part of modern day Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 near the shore of the Euxine Sea (the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

). There they formed an independent kingdom under the government of a queen named Hippolyta
Hippolyta
In Greek mythology, Hippolyta or Hippolyte is the Amazonian queen who possessed a magical girdle she was given by her father Ares, the god of war. The girdle was a waist belt that signified her authority as queen of the Amazons....

 or Hippolyte ("loose, unbridled mare"). The Amazons were supposed to have founded many towns, amongst them Smyrna
Smyrna
Smyrna was an ancient city located at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. Thanks to its advantageous port conditions, its ease of defence and its good inland connections, Smyrna rose to prominence. The ancient city is located at two sites within modern İzmir, Turkey...

, Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

, Sinope
Sinop, Turkey
Sinop is a city with a population of 36,734 on İnce Burun , by its Cape Sinop which is situated on the most northern edge of the Turkish side of Black Sea coast, in the ancient region of Paphlagonia, in modern-day northern Turkey, historically known as Sinope...

, and Paphos
Paphos
Paphos , sometimes referred to as Pafos, is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. In antiquity, two locations were called Paphos: Old Paphos and New Paphos. The currently inhabited city is New Paphos. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, about west of the...

. According to the dramatist Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

, in the distant past they had lived in Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

 (modern Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

), at the Palus Maeotis ("Lake Maeotis", the Sea of Azov
Sea of Azov
The Sea of Azov , known in Classical Antiquity as Lake Maeotis, is a sea on the south of Eastern Europe. It is linked by the narrow Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea to the south and is bounded on the north by Ukraine mainland, on the east by Russia, and on the west by the Ukraine's Crimean...

), but later moved to Themiscyra on the River Thermodon
Thermodon
The Terme River is in the border of Terme district, located in central northern Turkey between the cities of Ordu and Samsun. The river flows about 50 km east of the coastal city Samsun into the Black Sea....

 (the Terme river in northern Turkey). Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 called them Androktones ("killers of men"), and he stated that in the Scythian language they were called Oiorpata, which he asserted had this meaning.

The myth


In some versions of the myth, no men were permitted to have sexual encounters or reside in Amazon country; but once a year, in order to prevent their race from dying out, they visited the Gargareans
Gargareans
In Greek mythology, the Gargareans were an all-male tribe. They had sex with the Amazons annually in order to keep both tribes reproductive. Varying accounts suggest that they may have been kidnapped, raped, and murdered for this purpose, or that they may have had relations willingly...

, a neighbouring tribe. The male children who were the result of these visits were either killed, sent back to their fathers or exposed in the wilderness
Child abandonment
Child abandonment is the practice of relinquishing interests and claims over one's offspring with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting them. Causes include many social and cultural factors as well as mental illness. An abandoned child is called a foundling .-Causes:Poverty is often a...

 to fend for themselves; the females were kept and brought up by their mothers, and trained in agricultural pursuits, hunting, and the art of war. In other versions when the Amazons went to war they would not kill all the men. Some they would take as slaves, and once or twice a year they would have sex
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 with their slaves.

The intermarriage of Amazons and men from other tribes was also used to explain the origin of various peoples. For example, the story of the Amazons settling with the Scythians (Herodotus Histories 4.110.1-117.1, see Wikisource).

In the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, the Amazons were referred to as Antianeirai ("those who fight like men").

The Amazons appear in Greek art
Greek art
Greek art began in the Cycladic and Minoan prehistorical civilization, and gave birth to Western classical art in the ancient period...

 of the Archaic period and in connection with several Greek legends. They invaded Lycia
Lycia
Lycia Lycian: Trm̃mis; ) was a region in Anatolia in what are now the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of Turkey. It was a federation of ancient cities in the region and later a province of the Roman Empire...

, but were defeated by Bellerophon
Bellerophon
Bellerophon or Bellerophontes is a hero of Greek mythology. He was "the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside of Cadmus and Perseus, before the days of Heracles", and his greatest feat was killing the Chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a...

, who was sent against them by Iobates
Iobates
In Greek mythology, Iobates , a.k.a. Jobates, was a Lycian king, the father of Antea and Philonoe. Bellerophon was sent into exile to the land of King Iobates. Proetus, King of Tiryns, wanted Iobates to kill Bellerophon, but Iobates feared the wrath of the gods if he murdered a guest...

, the king of that country, in the hope that he might meet his death at their hands. The tomb of Myrine is mentioned in the Iliad; later interpretation made of her an Amazon: according to Diodorus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

, Queen Myrine led her Amazons to victory against Libya
Ancient Libya
The Latin name Libya referred to the region west of the Nile Valley, generally corresponding to modern Northwest Africa. Climate changes affected the locations of the settlements....

 and much of Gorgon
Gorgon
In Greek mythology, the Gorgon was a terrifying female creature. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a...

.

They attacked the Phrygia
Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

ns, who were assisted by Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

, then a young man. Although in his later years, towards the end of the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, his old opponents took his side again against the Greeks under their queen Penthesilea
Penthesilea
Penthesilea or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe...

 "of Thracian
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 birth", who was slain by Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

.

One of the tasks imposed upon Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 by Eurystheus
Eurystheus
In Greek mythology, Eurystheus was king of Tiryns, one of three Mycenaean strongholds in the Argolid, although other authors including Homer and Euripides cast him as ruler of Argos: Sthenelus was his father and the "victorious horsewoman" Nicippe his mother, and he was a grandson of the hero...

 was to obtain possession of the girdle
Girdle
A girdle is a garment that encircles the lower torso, perhaps extending below the hips, and worn often for support. The word girdle originally meant a belt. In modern English, the term girdle is most commonly used for a form of women's foundation wear that replaced the corset in popularity...

 of the Amazonian queen Hippolyta
Hippolyta
In Greek mythology, Hippolyta or Hippolyte is the Amazonian queen who possessed a magical girdle she was given by her father Ares, the god of war. The girdle was a waist belt that signified her authority as queen of the Amazons....

. He was accompanied by his friend Theseus
Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

, who carried off the princess Antiope
Antiope (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Antiope was an Amazon, daughter of Ares and sister to Melanippe and Hippolyte and possibly Orithyia, queens of the Amazons,. She was the wife of Theseus, and the only Amazon known to have married...

, sister of Hippolyta, an incident which led to a retaliatory invasion of Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

, in which Antiope perished fighting by the side of Theseus. In some versions, however, Theseus marries Hippolyta and in others, he marries Antiope and she does not die; by this marriage with the Amazon Theseus had a son Hippolytus
Hippolytus (mythology)
thumb|260px|The Death of Hippolytus, by [[Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema]] .In Greek mythology, Hippolytus was a son of Theseus and either Antiope or Hippolyte...

. The battle between the Athenians and Amazons is often commemorated in an entire genre of art, amazonomachy
Amazonomachy
An Amazonomachy was a portrayal of legendary battle between Greeks and Amazons...

, in marble bas-reliefs such as from the Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

 or the sculptures of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
The Amazons are also said to have undertaken an expedition against the island of Leuke
Snake Island (Black Sea)
Snake Island, also known as Serpent Island, , is a Ukrainian island located in the Black Sea near the Danube Delta.The island is populated. A rural settlement of Bile was established in February 2007, which is part of the Vylkove city, Kiliya Raion, Odessa Oblast...

, at the mouth of the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, where the ashes of Achilles had been deposited by Thetis
Thetis
Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

. The ghost of the dead hero appeared and so terrified the horses, that they threw and trampled upon the invaders, who were forced to retire. Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 is said to have found them in the army of Mithridates
Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI or Mithradates VI Mithradates , from Old Persian Mithradatha, "gift of Mithra"; 134 BC – 63 BC, also known as Mithradates the Great and Eupator Dionysius, was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia from about 120 BC to 63 BC...

.

They are heard of in the time of Alexander, when some of the king's biographers make mention of Amazon Queen Thalestris
Thalestris
According to the mythological Greek Alexander Romance, Queen Thalestris of the Amazons brought 300 women to Alexander the Great, hoping to breed a race of children as strong and intelligent as he...

 visiting him and becoming a mother by him (the story is known from the Alexander Romance
Alexander Romance
Alexander romance is any of several collections of legends concerning the mythical exploits of Alexander the Great. The earliest version is in Greek, dating to the 3rd century. Several late manuscripts attribute the work to Alexander's court historian Callisthenes, but the historical figure died...

). However, several other biographers of Alexander dispute the claim, including the highly regarded secondary source
Secondary source
In scholarship, a secondary source is a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. A secondary source contrasts with a primary source, which is an original source of the information being discussed; a primary source can be a person with direct...

, Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

. In his writing he makes mention of a moment when Alexander's secondary naval commander, Onesicritus
Onesicritus
Onesicritus , a Greek historical writer, who accompanied Alexander on his campaigns in Asia. He claimed to have been the commander of Alexander's fleet but was actually only a helmsman; Arrian and Nearchus often criticize him for this. When he returned home, he wrote a history of Alexander's...

, was reading the Amazon passage of his Alexander history to King Lysimachus
Lysimachus
Lysimachus was a Macedonian officer and diadochus of Alexander the Great, who became a basileus in 306 BC, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon.-Early Life & Career:...

 of Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 who was on the original expedition: the king smiled at him and said "And where was I, then?"

The Roman writer Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

's characterization of the Volsci
Volsci
The Volsci were an ancient Italic people, well known in the history of the first century of the Roman Republic. They then inhabited the partly hilly, partly marshy district of the south of Latium, bounded by the Aurunci and Samnites on the south, the Hernici on the east, and stretching roughly from...

an warrior maiden Camilla
Camilla (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Camilla of the Volsci was the daughter of King Metabus and Casmilla. Driven from his throne, Metabus was chased into the wilderness by armed Volsci, his infant daughter in his hands. The river Amasenus blocked his path, and, fearing for the child's welfare, Metabus bound her to...

 in the Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

borrows heavily from the myth of the Amazons.

Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

' Getica (c. 560), purporting to give the earliest history of the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

, relates that the Goths' ancestors, descendants of Magog
Magog (Bible)
Magog, Hebrew מגוג, Greek Μαγωγ, [ ma'gog ], is the second of the seven sons of Japheth mentioned in the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. It may represent Hebrew for "from Gog", though this is far from certain....

, originally dwelt within Scythia, on the Sea of Azov
Sea of Azov
The Sea of Azov , known in Classical Antiquity as Lake Maeotis, is a sea on the south of Eastern Europe. It is linked by the narrow Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea to the south and is bounded on the north by Ukraine mainland, on the east by Russia, and on the west by the Ukraine's Crimean...

 between the Dnieper and Don Rivers
Don River (Russia)
The Don River is one of the major rivers of Russia. It rises in the town of Novomoskovsk 60 kilometres southeast from Tula, southeast of Moscow, and flows for a distance of about 1,950 kilometres to the Sea of Azov....

. After a few centuries, following an incident where the Goths' women successfully fended off a raid by a neighboring tribe, while the menfolk were off campaigning against Pharaoh Vesosis, the women formed their own army under Marpesia
Marpesia
In ancient Greek and Roman legendary history, Marpesia was Queen of the Amazons with Lampedo , her sister, as a co-ruler. They ruled with Hippo after the death of Lysippe.Marpesia was one of the rulers who helped establish the Greek city of Ephesus...

 and crossed the Don, invading Asia. Her sister Lampedo
Lampedo
Lampedo is an Amazon queen mentioned in Roman historiography. She ruled with her sister Marpesia...

 remained in Europe to guard the homeland. They procreated with men once a year. These Amazons conquered Armenia, Syria, and all of Asia Minor, even reaching Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

 and Aeolia
Aeolia
Aeolia may refer to:*Aeolia, another name for Aeolis in Anatolia*Aeolia, an older name for Thessaly before the Greek Dark Ages*The home of Æolus, son of Hippotes, a character in the Odyssey*Aeolia , a character found in Mother 3...

, holding this vast territory for 100 years. Jordanes also mentions that they fought with Hercules, and in the Trojan War, and that a smaller contingent of them endured in the Caucasus Mountains until the time of Alexander. He mentions by name the Queens Menalippe, Hippolyta, and Penthesilea.

Lists


There are several (conflicting) lists of names of Amazons.

Quintus Smyrnaeus
Quintus Smyrnaeus
Quintus Smyrnaeus, also known as Kointos Smyrnaios , was a Greek epic poet whose Posthomerica, following "after Homer" continues the narration of the Trojan War....

  lists the attendant warriors of Penthesilea: "Clonie was there, Polemusa, Derinoe, Evandre, and Antandre
Antandre
In Greek Mythology, Antandre was an Amazonian warrior. She was one of Penthesilea's twelve companions at Troy. Her name means, "She Who Precedes Men".She was killed in the Trojan War by Achilles, according to Quintus Smyrnaeus's The Fall of Troy:...

, and Bremusa
Bremusa
In Greek Mythology, Bremusa was an Amazonian warrior. Her name means "Raging Female". She fought with Penthesilea at Troy and was killed by Idomeneus.-External links:**...

, Hippothoe
Hippothoe
In Greek mythology, Hippothoe is the name of five distinct characters.* Hippothoe, daughter of Mestor, son of Perseus, and of Lysidice, daughter of Pelops. Poseidon abducted Hippothoe from her family and took her to the Echinades islands. Upon her he sired Taphius who later founded the city of...

, dark-eyed Harmothoe, Alcibie
Alcibie
In Greek Mythology Alcibie was an Amazon who fought with Penthesilea at Troy.Her name, broken down, means "strength; force" She was killed in battle by Diomedes ....

, Derimacheia, Antibrote, and Thermodosa glorying with the spear."

Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

  enlists nine Amazons who challenged Heracles to single combat during his quest for Hippolyta's girdle and died against him one by one: Aella
Aella (Amazon)
Aella - Ἄελλα was one of Hippolyte's Amazons in Greek mythology. She was the first to attack Heracles when he came for Hippolyte's girdle. Unfortunately, Heracles was wearing the Nemean Lion skin from his first labor, making him invulnerable. Aella could not kill Heracles; thus, she was killed...

, Philippis, Prothoe, Eriboea, Celaeno
Celaeno
In Greek mythology, Celaeno referred to several different figures.*Celaeno, one of the Harpies, whom Aeneas encountered at Strophades. She gave him prophecies of his coming journeys.*Celaeno, one of the Pleiades...

, Eurybia, Phoebe
Phoebe
Phoebe or Phebe is a female given name , meaning "bright and shining" deriving from Greek 'phoibos' .-Mythology:*Phoebe , one of the Titans*Phoebe, one of the Heliades*Phoebe , the daughter of Leucippus...

, Deianeira, Asteria
Asteria
In Greek mythology, Asteria was a name attributed to the following eight individuals:-Daughter of Coeus:Asteria was the daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe and sister of Leto...

, Marpe, Tecmessa, Alcippe. After Alcippe's death, a group attack followed.

Another list of Amazons' names is found in Hyginus
Hyginus
Hyginus can refer to:People:*Gaius Julius Hyginus , Roman poet, author of Fabulae, reputed author of Poeticon astronomicon*Hyginus Gromaticus, Roman surveyor*Pope Hyginus, also a saint, Bishop of Rome about 140...

' Fabulae. Along with Hippolyta
Hippolyta
In Greek mythology, Hippolyta or Hippolyte is the Amazonian queen who possessed a magical girdle she was given by her father Ares, the god of war. The girdle was a waist belt that signified her authority as queen of the Amazons....

, Otrera
Otrera
In Greek mythology, Otrera was a Queen of the Amazons, the consort of Ares, daughter of Eurus, and mother of Hippolyta, Antiope, Melanippe and Penthesilea....

, Antiope
Antiope (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Antiope was an Amazon, daughter of Ares and sister to Melanippe and Hippolyte and possibly Orithyia, queens of the Amazons,. She was the wife of Theseus, and the only Amazon known to have married...

 and Penthesilea
Penthesilea
Penthesilea or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe...

, it attests the following names: Ocyale, Dioxippe, Iphinome, Xanthe, Hippothoe
Hippothoe
In Greek mythology, Hippothoe is the name of five distinct characters.* Hippothoe, daughter of Mestor, son of Perseus, and of Lysidice, daughter of Pelops. Poseidon abducted Hippothoe from her family and took her to the Echinades islands. Upon her he sired Taphius who later founded the city of...

, Laomache, Glauce
Glauce
In Greek mythology, Glauce , Latin Glauca, refers to seven different people:#Glauce, daughter of Creon. She married Jason. She was killed, along with Jason's children, by his wife, Medea. Also known by the name Creusa, predominantly in Latin authors, e.g...

, Agave
Agave
Agave is a genus of monocots. The plants are perennial, but each rosette flowers once and then dies ; they are commonly known as the century plant....

, Theseis, Clymene
Clymene
Clymene or Klymenê may refer to*104 Klymene, an asteroid*Clymene dolphin , a dolphin endemic to the Atlantic Ocean*Clymene Moth*In Greek mythology:...

, Polydora
Polydora
Polydora may refer to:*In Greek mythology:**Polydora, Danaid, mother of King Dryops of Oeta by Spercheus**Polydora, daughter of Peleus**Polydora, possible wife of Protesilaus**Polydora, one of the Oceanids**Polydora, one of the Amazons...

.

Yet another different set of names is found in Valerius Flaccus
Valerius Flaccus
Valerius Flaccus is the name of:*Gaius Valerius Flaccus , Latin poet at the time of Vespasian*a number of Roman political figures, including:*Lucius Valerius Flaccus *Lucius Valerius Flaccus...

' Argonautica: he mentions Euryale, Harpe, Lyce, Menippe and Thoe. Of these Lyce also appears in a fragment preserved in the Latin Anthology
Latin Anthology
The Latin Anthology is the appellation bestowed upon a collection of fugitive Latin verse, from the age of Ennius to about 1000, formed by Pieter Burmann the Younger...

where she is said to have killed the hero Clonus of Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

, son of Doryclus, with her javelin.

John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes was a Byzantine poet and grammarian, known to have lived at Constantinople during the 12th century.Tzetzes was Georgian on his mother's side...

 in Posthomerica enumerates the Amazons that fell at Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

: Hippothoe, Antianeira, Toxophone, Toxoanassa, Gortyessa, Iodoce, Pharetre, Andro, Ioxeia, Oïstrophe, Androdaïxa, Aspidocharme, Enchesimargos, Cnemis, Thorece, Chalcaor, Eurylophe, Hecate, Anchimache, Andromache the queen. Concerning Antianeira and Andromache, see below; for almost all the other names on the list, this is a unique attestation.

Stephanus of Byzantium
Stephanus of Byzantium
Stephen of Byzantium, also known as Stephanus Byzantinus , was the author of an important geographical dictionary entitled Ethnica...

 provides an alternate list of the Amazons that fell against Heracles, describing them as "the most prominent" of their people: Tralla, Isocrateia, Thiba, Palla, Coea (Koia), Coenia (Koinia). Eustathius
Eustathius of Thessalonica
Archbishop Eustathius of Thessalonica was a Greek bishop and scholar. He is most noted for his contemporary account of the sack of Thessalonike by the Normans in 1185, for his orations and for his commentaries on Homer, which incorporate many remarks by much earlier researchers.- Life :After being...

 gives the same list minus the last two names. Both Stephanus and Eustathius write of these Amazons in connection with the placename Thibais, which they report to have been derived from Thiba's name.

Other names of Amazons from various sources include:
  • Aegea
    Aegea
    Aegea is a back-formation from "Aegean", the sea that was named for an eponymous Aegeus in early levels of Greek mythology. The Encyclopaedia Britannica mentioned an Aegea, queen of the Amazons, as an alternative eponym of the Aegean Sea, and Aegea was the name of the wife of the Roman proconsul...

    , queen of the Amazons who was thought by some to have been the eponym
    Eponym
    An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

     of the Aegean Sea
    Aegean Sea
    The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

    .
  • Ainia, enemy of Achilles
    Achilles
    In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

     and an Amazon, one of the twelve who accompanied Penthesilea
    Penthesilea
    Penthesilea or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe...

     to the Trojan War
    Trojan War
    In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

    . Her name means "swiftness."
  • Ainippe, an Amazon who confronted Telamon
    Telamon
    In Greek mythology, Telamon , son of the king Aeacus, of Aegina, and Endeis and brother of Peleus, accompanied Jason as one of his Argonauts, and was present at the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. In the Iliad he was the father of Greek heroes Ajax the Great and Teucer the Archer by different...

     in the battle against Heracles' troops
  • Alce, who was said to have killed the young Oebalus of Arcadia
    Arcadia
    Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

    , son of Ida (otherwise unknown), with her spear during the Parthian War.
  • Amastris, who was believed to be the eponym
    Eponym
    An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

     of the city previously known as Kromna, although the city was also thought to have been named after the historical Amastris
    Amastris
    Amastris also called Amastrine, was a Persian Princess. She was the daughter of Oxyathres, the brother of the Persian King Darius III.-Marriages:...

  • Anaea, an Amazon whose tomb was shown at the island of Samos
    Samoš
    Samoš is a village in Serbia. It is situated in the Kovačica municipality, in the South Banat District, Vojvodina province. The village has a Serb ethnic majority and its population numbering 1,247 people .-See also:...

  • Andromache, an Amazon who fought Heracles and was defeated; only known from vase paintings. Not to be confused with Andromache
    Andromache
    In Greek mythology, Andromache was the wife of Hector and daughter of Eetion, and sister to Podes. She was born and raised in the city of Cilician Thebe, over which her father ruled...

    , wife of Hector
    Hector
    In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

    .
  • Antianeira, succeeded Penthesilea
    Penthesilea
    Penthesilea or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe...

     as Queen of the Amazons. She was best known for ordering her male servants to be crippled "as the lame best perform the acts of love".
  • Areto
    Areto
    In Greek mythology, Areto was an Amazon.Her name is not attested in literary sources, and is known solely from an Attic black-figure vase painting.-Sources:...

     and Iphito
    Iphito
    In Greek mythology, Iphito was an Amazon who served under Hippolyte. Her name is only known from inscriptions.-Sources:*Blok, Josine H. The early Amazons: modern and ancient perspectives on a persistent myth. BRILL, 1995;...

    , two little-known Amazons, whose names are only attested in inscriptions on artefacts.
  • Clete, one of the twelve followers of Penthesilea. After Penthesilea's death she, in accord with the former's will, sailed off and eventually landed in Italy, founding the city of Clete.
  • Cyme, who gave her name to the city of Cyme (Aeolis)
    Cyme (Aeolis)
    Cyme was an Aeol city in Aeolis close to the kingdom of Lydia. The Aeolians regarded Cyme as the largest and most important of their twelve cities, which were located on the coastline of Asia Minor...

  • Cynna (?), one of the two possible eponyms (the other one being "Cynnus, brother of Coeus
    Coeus
    In Greek mythology, Coeus was one of the Titans, the giant sons and daughters of Uranus and Gaia . His equivalent in Latin poetry—though he scarcely makes an appearance in Roman mythology— was Polus, the embodiment of the celestial axis around which the heavens revolve...

    ") of Cynna, a small town not far from Heraclea
    Heraclea
    -Ancient cities:* Heraclea Cybistra, Konya Province, Turkey* Heracleia by Latmus, near Lake Bafa, Turkey* Heraclea Lucania, Lucanian district of southern Italy...

    .
  • Ephesos, a Lydia
    Lydia
    Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

    n Amazon, after whom the city of Ephesus
    Ephesus
    Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

     was thought to have been named; she was also said to have been the first to honor Artemis
    Artemis
    Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

     and to have surnamed the goddess Ephesia.
  • Eurypyle, queen of the Amazons who was reported to have led an expedition against Ninus
    Nineveh
    Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

     and Babylon
    Babylon
    Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

     around 1760 BC
  • Gryne, an Amazon who was thought to be the eponym
    Eponym
    An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

     of the Gryneian grove in Asia Minor
    Asia Minor
    Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

    . She was loved by Apollo
    Apollo
    Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

     and consorted with him in said grove.
  • Helene, daughter of Tityrus. She fought Achilles
    Achilles
    In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

     and died after he seriously wounded her.
  • Hippo, an Amazon who took part in the introduction of religious rites in honor of the goddess Artemis
    Artemis
    Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

    . She was punished by the goddess for not having performed a ritual dance.
  • Lampedo
    Lampedo
    Lampedo is an Amazon queen mentioned in Roman historiography. She ruled with her sister Marpesia...

    , queen of the Amazons, co-ruler with Marpesia
  • Latoreia, who had a small village near Ephesus named after her.
  • Lysippe
    Lysippe
    Lysippe is the name of several different women in Greek mythology:* Lysippe, daughter of Thespius and Megamede. She bore Heracles a son, Erasippus.* Lysippe, the Amazon mother of the river god Tanais....

    , mother of Tanais by Berossos. Her son only venerated Ares
    Ares
    Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

     and was fully devoted to war, neglecting love and marriage. Aphrodite
    Aphrodite
    Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

     cursed him with falling in love with his own mother. Preferring to die rather than give up his chastity, he threw himself into the river Amazonius, which was subsequently renamed Tanais
    Tanais
    Tanais is the ancient name for the River Don in Russia. Strabo regarded it as the boundary between Europe and Asia.In antiquity, Tanais was also the name of a city in the Don river delta that reaches into the northeasternmost part of the Sea of Azov, which the Greeks called Lake Maeotis...

    .
  • Marpesia
    Marpesia
    In ancient Greek and Roman legendary history, Marpesia was Queen of the Amazons with Lampedo , her sister, as a co-ruler. They ruled with Hippo after the death of Lysippe.Marpesia was one of the rulers who helped establish the Greek city of Ephesus...

    , queen of the Amazons, co-ruler with Lampedo
  • Melanippe
    Melanippe
    In Greek mythology, Melanippe referred to several different people.* Daughter of the Centaur Chiron. Also known as Hippe or Euippe. She bore a daughter to Aeolus, Melanippe or Arne...

    , sister of Hippolyta. Heracles captured her and demanded Hippolyta's girdle in exchange for her freedom. Hippolyta complied and Heracles let her go. According to some, however, she was killed by Telamon
    Telamon
    In Greek mythology, Telamon , son of the king Aeacus, of Aegina, and Endeis and brother of Peleus, accompanied Jason as one of his Argonauts, and was present at the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. In the Iliad he was the father of Greek heroes Ajax the Great and Teucer the Archer by different...

    .
  • Molpadia
    Molpadia
    In Greek mythology, Molpadia was an Amazon who was said to have fought for both Antiope and Orithyia. She was a participant in the Attic War, where she witnessed her queen Antiope sustain heavy injuries. Antiope was hurt so seriously, she could not defend herself from Theseus and his retainers...

    , an Amazon who killed Antiope
    Antiope
    Antiope can mean:* Greek mythology** Antiope , sister of Hippolyte kidnapped by Theseus, during Heracles' ninth labour** Antiope by Zeus, associated with the mythology of Thebes, Greece...

    .
  • Myrleia, possible eponym of a city in Bithynia
    Bithynia
    Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine .-Description:...

    , which was later known as Apamea
    Apamea Myrlea
    Apamea Myrlea, or Apamea Myrleon, was an ancient city on the Sea of Marmara, in Bithynia, Anatolia; the ruins are now found a few kilometers south of Mudanya, Bursa Province in the Asian part of Turkey.-Names:...

    .
  • Myrto, in one source, mother of Myrtilus
    Myrtilus
    In Greek mythology, Myrtilus was a divine hero, a son of Hermes on Theobule , and charioteer of King Oenomaus of Pisa in Elis, on the northwest coast of the Peloponnesus....

     by Hermes
    Hermes
    Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

     (elsewhere his mother is called Theobule
    Theobule
    In Greek mythology, the name Theobule refers to:*Mother of Myrtilus by Hermes.*Mother of Arcesilaus and Prothoenor by Areilycus....

    ).
  • Mytilene, Myrina's sister and one of the possible eponyms for the city of Mytilene
    Mytilene
    Mytilene is a town and a former municipality on the island of Lesbos, North Aegean, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Lesbos, of which it is a municipal unit. It is the capital of the island of Lesbos. Mytilene, whose name is pre-Greek, is built on the...

  • Orithyia, daughter and successor of Marpesia, famous for her conquests
  • Otrera
    Otrera
    In Greek mythology, Otrera was a Queen of the Amazons, the consort of Ares, daughter of Eurus, and mother of Hippolyta, Antiope, Melanippe and Penthesilea....

    , consort of Ares
    Ares
    Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

     and mother of Hippolyta and Penthesilea.
  • Pantariste
    Pantariste
    In Greek mythology, Pantariste was an Amazon who fought on Hippolyte's side against Heracles and his troops.A black-figure vase painting of the 6th c. BCE depicts Pantariste defeating the Greek warrior Timiades. The same painting features two other similar "Greek hero vs...

    , who killed Timiades in the battle between the Amazons and Heracles' troops.
  • Pitane and Priene, two commanders in Myrina's army, after whom the cities of Pitane (Aeolis)
    Pitane (Aeolis)
    Pitane , near Çandarlı, Turkey, was an ancient Greek town of Aeolis, in Asia Minor. In ancient times it was a port city and a member of the Delian League. About 334 BC, Alexander the Great tried to take over the city, but was repulsed by Memnon of Rhodes and 5,000 Greek mercenaries provided by...

     and Priene
    Priene
    Priene was an ancient Greek city of Ionia at the base of an escarpment of Mycale, about north of the then course of the Maeander River, from today's Aydin, from today's Söke and from ancient Miletus...

     were named.
  • Sinope, successor of Lampedo and Marpesia.
  • Sisyrbe, after whom a part of Ephesus was called Sisyrba, and its inhabitants the Sisyrbitae.
  • Smyrna, who obtained possession of Ephesus
    Ephesus
    Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

     and gave her name to a quarter in this city, as well as to the city of Smyrna
    Smyrna
    Smyrna was an ancient city located at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. Thanks to its advantageous port conditions, its ease of defence and its good inland connections, Smyrna rose to prominence. The ancient city is located at two sites within modern İzmir, Turkey...


Hero cults


According to ancient sources, (Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 Theseus
Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

, Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

), Amazon tombs could be found frequently throughout what was once known as the ancient Greek world. Some are found in Megara
Megara
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...

, Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, Chaeronea
Chaeronea
Chaeronea is a village and a former municipality in Boeotia, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Livadeia, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 2,218...

, Chalcis
Chalcis
Chalcis or Chalkida , the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, is situated on the strait of the Evripos at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός , though there is no trace of any mines in the area...

, Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

 at Skotousa, in Cynoscephalae and statues of Amazons are all over Greece. At both Chalcis
Chalcis
Chalcis or Chalkida , the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, is situated on the strait of the Evripos at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός , though there is no trace of any mines in the area...

 and Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 tells us that there was an Amazoneum or shrine of Amazons that implied the presence of both tombs and cult. On the day before the Thesea at Athens there were annual sacrifices to the Amazons. In historical times Greek maidens of Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

 performed an annual circular dance with weapons and shields that had been established by Hippolyta
Hippolyta
In Greek mythology, Hippolyta or Hippolyte is the Amazonian queen who possessed a magical girdle she was given by her father Ares, the god of war. The girdle was a waist belt that signified her authority as queen of the Amazons....

 and her Amazons. They had initially set up wooden statues of Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

, a bretas, (Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

, (fl.c.160
160
Year 160 was a leap year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Atilius and Vibius...

): Description of Greece, Book I: Attica).

In art


In works of art, battles between Amazons and Greeks are placed on the same level as and often associated with battles of Greeks and centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

s. The belief in their existence, however, having been once accepted and introduced into the national poetry and art, it became necessary to surround them as far as possible with the appearance of natural beings. Their occupation was hunting and war; their arms the bow, spear, axe, a half shield, nearly in the shape of a crescent, called pelta, and in early art a helmet, the model before the Greek mind having apparently been the goddess Athena. In later art they approach the model of Artemis, wearing a thin dress, girt high for speed; while on the later painted vases their dress is often peculiarly Persian
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 – that is, close-fitting trousers and a high cap called the kidaris. They were usually on horseback but sometimes on foot. They can also be identified in vase paintings by the fact that they are wearing one earring. The battle between Theseus and the Amazons (Amazonomachy
Amazonomachy
An Amazonomachy was a portrayal of legendary battle between Greeks and Amazons...

) is a favourite subject on the friezes of temples (e.g. the reliefs from the frieze of the temple of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 at Bassae
Bassae
Bassae or Bassai, Vassai or Vasses , meaning "little vale in the rocks", is an archaeological site in the northeastern part of Messinia Prefecture that was a part of Arcadia in ancient times. Bassae lies near the village of Skliros, northeast of Figaleia, south of Andritsaina and west of Megalopolis...

, now in the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

), vases and sarcophagus reliefs; at Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 it was represented on the shield of the statue of Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos was the title of a massive chryselephantine sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena made by Phidias and housed in the Parthenon in Athens. Its epithet was an essential character of the goddess herself...

, on wall-paintings in the Theseum and in the Stoa Poikile
Stoa
Stoa in Ancient Greek architecture; covered walkways or porticos, commonly for public usage. Early stoae were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.Later examples were built as two...

. There were also three standard Amazon statue types
Amazon statue types
Pliny the Elder records five bronze statues of Amazons in the Artemision of Ephesus. He explains the existence of such a quantity of sculptures on the same theme in the same place by describing a 5th century BC competition between the artists Polyclitus, Phidias, Kresilas, "Kydon" and Phradmon;...

.

In historiography


Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 reported that the Sarmatians were descendants of Amazons and Scythians, and that their females observed their ancient maternal customs, "frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands; in war taking the field; and wearing the very same dress as the men". Moreover, said Herodotus, "No girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle". In the story related by Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, a group of Amazons was blown across the Maeotian Lake
Sea of Azov
The Sea of Azov , known in Classical Antiquity as Lake Maeotis, is a sea on the south of Eastern Europe. It is linked by the narrow Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea to the south and is bounded on the north by Ukraine mainland, on the east by Russia, and on the west by the Ukraine's Crimean...

 (the Sea of Azov
Sea of Azov
The Sea of Azov , known in Classical Antiquity as Lake Maeotis, is a sea on the south of Eastern Europe. It is linked by the narrow Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea to the south and is bounded on the north by Ukraine mainland, on the east by Russia, and on the west by the Ukraine's Crimean...

) into Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

 near the cliff region (today's southeastern Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

). After learning the Scythian language, they agreed to marry Scythian men, on the condition that they not be required to follow the customs of Scythian women. According to Herodotus, this band moved toward the northeast, settling beyond the Tanais
Don River (Russia)
The Don River is one of the major rivers of Russia. It rises in the town of Novomoskovsk 60 kilometres southeast from Tula, southeast of Moscow, and flows for a distance of about 1,950 kilometres to the Sea of Azov....

 (Don
Don River (Russia)
The Don River is one of the major rivers of Russia. It rises in the town of Novomoskovsk 60 kilometres southeast from Tula, southeast of Moscow, and flows for a distance of about 1,950 kilometres to the Sea of Azov....

) river, and became the ancestors of the Sauromatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

. According to Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, the Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 fought with the Scythians against Darius the Great in the 5th century B.C.

Hippocrates describes them as: "They have no right breasts...for while they are yet babies their mothers make red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterize it, so that its growth is arrested, and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm."

Amazons came to play a role in Roman historiography
Roman historiography
Roman Historiography is indebted to the Greeks, who invented the form. The Romans had great models to base their works upon, such as Herodotus and Thucydides. Roman historiographical forms are different from the Greek ones however, and voice very Roman concerns. Unlike the Greeks, Roman...

. Caesar reminded the Senate of the conquest of large parts of Asia by Semiramis
Semiramis
The real and historical Shammuramat , was the Assyrian queen of Shamshi-Adad V , King of Assyria and ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and its regent for four years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age....

 and the Amazons. Successful Amazon raids against Lycia and Cilicia contrasted with effective resistance by Lydian cavalry against the invaders (Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 5.504; Nicholas Damascenus). Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus
Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus
Gnaeus Pompēius Trōgus, known as Pompeius Trogus, Pompey Trogue, or Trogue Pompey, was a 1st century BC Roman historian of the Celtic tribe of the Vocontii in Gallia Narbonensis, flourished during the age of Augustus, nearly contemporary with Livy.His grandfather served in the war against Sertorius...

 pays particularly detailed attention to the Amazons. The story of the Amazons as deriving from a Cappadocian colony of two Scythian princes Ylinos and Scolopetos is due to him. Philostratus
Philostratus
Philostratus or Lucius Flavius Philostratus , , called "the Athenian", was a Greek sophist of the Roman imperial period. His father was a minor sophist of the same name. He was born probably around 172, and is said by the Suda to have been living in the reign of emperor Philip the Arab . His death...

 places the Amazons in the Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, dividing the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east...

. Ammianus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

 places them east of Tanais
Tanais
Tanais is the ancient name for the River Don in Russia. Strabo regarded it as the boundary between Europe and Asia.In antiquity, Tanais was also the name of a city in the Don river delta that reaches into the northeasternmost part of the Sea of Azov, which the Greeks called Lake Maeotis...

, as neighbouring the Alans
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

. Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

 places them in the Caucasus.
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 (Bibliotheca historica
Bibliotheca historica
Bibliotheca historica , is a work of universal history by Diodorus Siculus. It consisted of forty books, which were divided into three sections. The first six books are geographical in theme, and describe the history and culture of Egypt , of Mesopotamia, India, Scythia, and Arabia , of North...

chapter 49) derived the Amazons from Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....

 and located them in western Libya
Ancient Libya
The Latin name Libya referred to the region west of the Nile Valley, generally corresponding to modern Northwest Africa. Climate changes affected the locations of the settlements....

. He also relates the story of Hercules defeating the Amazons at Themiscyre.
Although Strabo shows scepticism as to their historicity, the Amazons in general continue to be taken as historical throughout Late Antiquity. Several Church Fathers speak of the Amazons as of a real people. Solinus
Gaius Julius Solinus
Gaius Julius Solinus, Latin grammarian and compiler, probably flourished in the early third century. Historical scholar Theodor Mommsen dates him to the middle of the third century....

 embraces the account of Plinius
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

. Under Aurelianus, captured Gothic
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 women were identified as Amazons (Claudianus). The account of Justinus was influential, and was used as a source by Orosius who continued to be read during the European Middle Ages. Medieval authors thus continue the tradition of locating the Amazons in the North, Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. He is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum .-Background:Little is known of his life other than hints from his own chronicles...

 placing them at the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and Paulus Diaconus in the heart of Germania.

Renaissance literature


Amazons continued to be discussed by authors of the European Renaissance, and with the Age of Exploration, they were located in ever more remote areas. In 1542, Francisco de Orellana
Francisco de Orellana
Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. He completed the first known navigation of the length of the Amazon River, which was originally named for him...

 reached the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 (Amazonas in Spanish), naming it after a tribe of warlike women he claimed having encountered and fought there. Afterwards the whole basin and region of the Amazon (Amazonía in Spanish) were named after the river. Amazons also figure in the accounts of both Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 and Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England....

. Famous medieval traveller John Mandeville
John Mandeville
"Jehan de Mandeville", translated as "Sir John Mandeville", is the name claimed by the compiler of The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, a book account of his supposed travels, written in Anglo-Norman French, and first circulated between 1357 and 1371.By aid of translations into many other languages...

 mentions them in his book:
"Beside the land of Chaldea is the land of Amazonia, that is the land of Feminye. And in that real is all woman and no man; not as some may say, that men may not live there, but for because that the women will not suffer no men amongst them to be their sovereigns."


Medieval and Renaissance authors credit the Amazons with the invention of the battle-axe
Corded Ware culture
The Corded Ware culture , alternatively characterized as the Battle Axe culture or Single Grave culture, is an enormous European archaeological horizon that begins in the late Neolithic , flourishes through the Copper Age and culminates in the early Bronze Age.Corded Ware culture is associated with...

. This is probably related to the Sagaris
Sagaris
Sagaris is the ancient Greek name for a shafted weapon used by the horse-riding ancient North-Iranian Saka and Scythian peoples of the great Eurasian steppe, also by the Western and Central Asian peoples: the Medes, Persians, Parthayans, Indo-Saka, Kushans, Tocharians...

, an axe-like weapon associated with both Amazons and Scythian tribes by Greek authors (see also Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo kurgan
Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo kurgan
The Aleksandrovo tomb is a Thracian burial mound and tomb excavated near Aleksandrovo, Haskovo Province, South-Eastern Bulgaria, dated to c. 4th century BCE....

). Paulus Hector Mair
Paulus Hector Mair
Paulus Hector Mair was an Augsburg civil servant, and active in the martial arts of his time. He collected Fechtbücher and undertook to compile all knowledge of the art of fencing in a compendium surpassing all earlier books...

 expresses astonishment that such a "manly weapon" should have been invented by a "tribe of women", but he accepts the attribution out of respect for his authority, Johannes Aventinus
Johannes Aventinus
Johannes Aventinus was a Bavarian historian and philologist. He wrote Annals of Bavaria, a valuable record of the early history of Germany...

.

Ariosto
Ludovico Ariosto
Ludovico Ariosto was an Italian poet. He is best known as the author of the romance epic Orlando Furioso . The poem, a continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, describes the adventures of Charlemagne, Orlando, and the Franks as they battle against the Saracens with diversions...

's Orlando Furioso
Orlando Furioso
Orlando Furioso is an Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto which has exerted a wide influence on later culture. The earliest version appeared in 1516, although the poem was not published in its complete form until 1532...

contains a country of warrior women, ruled by Queen Orontea; the epic describes an origin much like that in Greek myth, in that the women, abandoned by a band of warriors and unfaithful lovers, rallied together to form a nation from which men were severely reduced, to prevent them from regaining power.They and Queen Hippolyta were also referenced in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in The Knight's Tale.

Historical background


Classicist
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 Peter Walcot wrote, "Wherever the Amazons are located by the Greeks, whether it is somewhere along the Black Sea in the distant north-east, or in Libya in the furthest south, it is always beyond the confines of the civilized world
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

. The Amazons exist outside the range of normal human experience."

Nevertheless, there are various proposals for a historical nucleus of the Amazons of Greek historiography, the most obvious candidates being historical Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

 and Sarmatia
Sarmatia
Sarmatia or Sarmatian can refer to:* the land of Sarmatians, western Scythia as described by many classical authors, such as Herodotus in the 5th century BC* Sarmatian languages, part of Scythian languages...

 in line with the account by Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, but some authors prefer a comparison to cultures of Asia Minor or even Minoan Crete.

Scythians and Sarmatians


Speculation that the idea of Amazons contains a core of reality is based on archaeological findings from burials, pointing to the possibility that some Sarmatian women may have participated in battle. These findings have led scholars to suggest that the Amazonian legend in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 may have been "inspired by real warrior women", though this remains a minority opinion among classical historians.

Evidence of high-ranking warrior women comes from kurgans in southern Ukraine and Russia.
David Anthony notes, "About 20% of Scythian-Sarmatian "warrior graves" on the lower Don
Don River (Russia)
The Don River is one of the major rivers of Russia. It rises in the town of Novomoskovsk 60 kilometres southeast from Tula, southeast of Moscow, and flows for a distance of about 1,950 kilometres to the Sea of Azov....

 and lower Volga
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

 contained females dressed for battle as if they were men, a phenomenon that probably inspired the Greek tales about the Amazons."


Up to 25% of military burials were of armed Sarmatian women usually including bows. Russian archaeologist Vera Kovalevskaya points out that when Scythian men were away fighting or hunting, nomadic women would have to be able to defend themselves, their animals and pasture-grounds competently. During the time that the Scythians advanced into Asia and achieved near-hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 in the Near-East, there was a period of twenty-eight years when the men would have been away on campaigns for long periods. During this time the women would not only have had to defend themselves, but to reproduce and this could well be the origin of the idea that Amazons mated once a year with their neighbours, if Herodotus actually intended to base this on a factual base.

Before modern archaeology uncovered some of the Scythian burials of warrior-maidens entombed under kurgan
Kurgan
Kurgan is the Turkic term for a tumulus; mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves, originating with its use in Soviet archaeology, now widely used for tumuli in the context of Eastern European and Central Asian archaeology....

s in the region of Altai Mountains and Sarmatia,
giving concrete form at last to the Greek tales of mounted Amazons, the origin of the story of the Amazons has been the subject of speculation among classics scholars. In the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition
The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition is a 29-volume reference work, an edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. It was developed during the encyclopaedia's transition from a British to an American publication. Some of its articles were written by the best-known scholars of the time...

 speculation ranged along the following lines:
"While some regard the Amazons as a purely mythical people, others assume an historical foundation for them. The deities worshipped by them were Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

 (who is consistently assigned to them as a god of war, and as a god of Thracian
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and generally northern origin) and Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

, not the usual Greek goddess of that name, but an Asiatic deity in some respects her equivalent. It is conjectured that the Amazons were originally the temple-servants and priestesses (hierodulae) of this goddess; and that the removal of the breast corresponded with the self-mutilation of the god Attis
Attis
Attis was the consort of Cybele in Phrygian and Greek mythology. His priests were eunuchs, as explained by origin myths pertaining to Attis and castration...

 and the galli
Galli
A Gallus was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome.-About the Galli:...

, Roman priests of Rhea Cybele
Cybele
Cybele , was a Phrygian form of the Earth Mother or Great Mother. As with Greek Gaia , her Minoan equivalent Rhea and some aspects of Demeter, Cybele embodies the fertile Earth...

. Another theory is that, as the knowledge of geography extended, travellers brought back reports of tribes ruled entirely by women, who carried out the duties which elsewhere were regarded as peculiar to man, in whom alone the rights of nobility and inheritance were vested, and who had the supreme control of affairs. Hence arose the belief in the Amazons as a nation of female warriors, organized and governed entirely by women. According to J. Viirtheim (De Ajacis origine, 1907), the Amazons were of Greek origin [...] It has been suggested that the fact of the conquest of the Amazons being assigned to the two famous heroes of Greek mythology, Heracles and Theseus [...] shows that they were mythical illustrations of the dangers which beset the Greeks on the coasts of Asia Minor; rather perhaps, it may be intended to represent the conflict between the Greek culture of the colonies on the Euxine
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and the barbarism of the native inhabitants."


Minoan Crete


When Minoan archeology was still in its infancy, nevertheless, a theory raised in an essay regarding the Amazons contributed by Lewis Richard Farnell
Lewis Richard Farnell
Lewis Richard Farnell FBA was a classical scholar and Oxford academic, where he served as Vice-Chancellor from 1920 to 1923.Lewis Farnell was born in Salisbury, southern England, in 1856. He was educated at the City of London School and Exeter College, Oxford, where he graduated with a first class...

 and John Myres
John Myres
Sir John Linton Myres was a British archaeologist. He conducted excavations in Cyprus in 1904. He became the first Wykeham Professor of Ancient History, at the University of Oxford, in 1910, having been Gladstone Professor of Greek and Lecturer in Ancient Geography, University of Liverpool from 1907...

 to Robert Ranulph Marett
Robert Ranulph Marett
Robert Ranulph Marett was a British ethnologist from Jersey.Exponent of the British evolutionary school, he dealt with religious ethnology. In this field he modified the evolutionary scale of religion fixed by E. B. Tylor, which placed animism in the first place...

's Anthropology and the Classics (1908), placed their possible origins in Minoan civilization
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

, drawing attention to overlooked similarities between the two cultures. According to Myres, (pp. 153 ff), the tradition interpreted in the light of evidence furnished by supposed Amazon cults seems to have been very similar and may have even originated in Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 culture.

See also


  • Amazon feminism
    Amazon feminism
    -Summary:Amazon feminism is a branch of feminism that emphasizes female physical prowess as a means to achieve the goal of gender equality. Adherents are dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction and in fact, as expressed in the physiques and feats of female athletes, martial artists and...

  • Artemis
    Artemis
    Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

  • Athena
    Athena
    In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

  • Dahomey Amazons
    Dahomey Amazons
    The Dahomey Amazons or Mino were a Fon all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey which lasted until the end of the 19th century...

  • Giantess
    Giantess
    A giantess is a female giant. The term may refer either a mythical being resembling a woman of superhuman size and strength or a human woman of exceptional stature, often the result of some medical or genetic abnormality ....

  • Liburnians
    Liburnians
    The Liburnians were an ancient Illyrian tribe inhabiting the district called Liburnia, a coastal region of the northeastern Adriatic between the rivers Arsia and Titius in what is now Croatia....

     (according to Pseudo-Scylax
    Scylax of Caryanda
    Scylax of Caryanda was a renowned Carian explorer and writer of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.-Exploration and literary works:In about 515 BCE, Scylax was sent by King Darius I of Persia to follow the course of the Indus River and discover where it led. Scylax and his companions set out from city...

     ruled by women)
  • List of women warriors in folklore
  • Matriarchal religion
    Matriarchal religion
    The concept of a Matriarchal religion is a concept forwarded in second-wave feminism since the 1970s, based on the notion of a historical matriarchy first developed in the 19th century by J. J...

  • Matriarchy
    Matriarchy
    A matriarchy is a society in which females, especially mothers, have the central roles of political leadership and moral authority. It is also sometimes called a gynocratic or gynocentric society....

  • Shieldmaiden
    Shieldmaiden
    A shieldmaiden was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga and in Gesta Danorum. Shieldmaidens also appear in stories of other Germanic nations: Goths, Cimbri, and Marcomanni. The mythical Valkyries...

  • Sitones
    Sitones
    Sitones were a Germanic people living somewhere in Northern Europe in the 1st century CE. They are only mentioned by Cornelius Tacitus in 97 CE in Germania. Tacitus considered them a Germanic people similar to Suiones :...

  • Terra Feminarum
    Terra Feminarum
    Terra feminarum is a name for a land in Fennoscandia that appears in Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum by Adam of Bremen 1075 AD...

  • Themis
    Themis
    Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put"...

  • Timeline of women in ancient warfare
    Timeline of women in ancient warfare
    Warfare throughout written history mainly has been portrayed in modern times as a matter for men, but women also have played a role. Until very recently, little mention of these exploits was included in the historical records made available in most countries....

  • Valkyrie
    Valkyrie
    In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one of a host of female figures who decides who dies in battle. Selecting among half of those who die in battle , the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin...

  • Virago
    Virago
    Virago is a term used to describe a woman who demonstrates exemplary and heroic qualities. The word comes from the Latin word vir, meaningvirile 'man,' to which the suffix -ago is added, a suffix that effectively re-genders the word to be female...

  • Woman Warrior
    Woman warrior
    The portrayal of women warriors in literature and popular culture is a subject of study in history, literary studies, film studies, folklore and mythology, gender studies, and cultural studies.-Archaeology:...

  • Wonder Woman
    Wonder Woman
    Wonder Woman is a DC Comics superheroine created by William Moulton Marston. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8 . The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986....

  • Xena: Warrior Princess
    Xena: Warrior Princess
    Xena: Warrior Princess is an American–New Zealand supernatural fantasy adventure series that aired in syndication from September 4, 1995 until June 18, 2001....


External links