Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Queen Hippolyta and the Amazon Women

The Amazons (in Greek, Αμαζόνες) were a mythical ancient nation of all-female warriors. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia. Speculation based on archaeological evidence that some Sarmatian women may have participated in battle has led scholars to suggest that the Amazonian legend in Greek mythology could have been inspired by real warrior women, though this remains a minority opinion among classical historians.

Amazons were said to have lived in Pontus, which is part of modern day Turkey near the shore of the Euxine Sea (the Black Sea), where they formed an independent kingdom under the government of a queen, often named Hippolyta ("she lets her horses loose"). They were supposed to have founded many towns, amongst them Smyrna, Ephesus, Sinope, and Paphos. According to the dramatist Aeschylus, in the distant past they had lived in Scythia, at the Palus Maeotis ("Lake Maeotis", the Sea of Azov), but later moved to Themiscyra on the River Thermodon (the Terme river in northern Turkey). Herodotus called them Androktones ("killers of men"), and he stated that in the Scythian language they were called 'Oiorpata', which also has this meaning. In some versions, 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, a neighbouring tribe. The male children who were the result of these visits were either put to death, sent back to their fathers or left in the wilderness 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 (Strabo xi. p. 503).

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

The Amazons also make an appearance with the Argonauts, who came across the island of Lemnos on their way to the land of Colchis. They found Lemnos inhabited only by women and ruled by Queen Hypsipyle. They named the island Gynaikokratumene, a Greek word which roughly translates to reigned by women. Apollonius of Rhodes writes that the women received Jason and his companions in battle array -- "Hypsipile assumed her father's arms, and led the van, terrific in her charms." The young queen tells them that Lemnos was invaded in the past and all of the men were killed. The Amazons invite the Argonauts to take their fallen husbands' places. What the Argonauts do not realize is that the men of the island were slain by their own womenfolk. The Argonauts fortunately were not persuaded to stay long. As they sailed away through the Hellespont and crept up the Euxine they are told -- "flee the Amazonian shore, Else Themyscira soon, with rude alarms, Had seen the assembled Amazons in arms."

The Amazons appear in Greek art of the Archaic period and in connection with several Greek legends. They invaded Lycia, but were defeated by Bellerophon, who was sent out against them by Iobates, the king of that country, in the hope that he might meet his death at their hands (Iliad, vi. 186). The tomb of Myrine is mentioned in the Iliad; later interpretation made of her an Amazon: according to Diodorus, Queen Myrine led her Amazons to victory against Libya and much of Gorgon.

They attacked the Phrygians, who were assisted by Priam, then a young man (Iliad, iii. 189). Although in his later years, towards the end of the Trojan War, his old opponents took his side again against the Greeks under their queen Penthesilea "of Thracian birth" (Quintus Smyrnaeus), who was slain by Achilles, in the Aethiopis that continued the Iliad. (Quintus Smyrn. i.; Justin ii. 4; Virgil, Aeneid i. 490).

One of the tasks imposed upon Heracles by Eurystheus was to obtain possession of the girdle of the Amazonian queen Hippolyte (Apollodorus ii. 5). He was accompanied by his friend Theseus, who carried off the princess Antiope, sister of Hippolyte, an incident which led to a retaliatory invasion of Attica, 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. The battle between the Athenians and Amazons is often commemorated in an entire genre of art, amazonomachy, in marble bas-reliefs such as from the Parthenon or the sculptures of the mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

he Amazons are also said to have undertaken an expedition against the island of Leuke, at the mouth of the Danube, where the ashes of Achilles had been deposited by Thetis. 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 is said to have found them in the army of Mithridates.

They are heard of in the time of Alexander, when some of the great king's biographers make mention of Amazon Queen Thalestris visiting him and becoming a mother by him. However, several other biographers of Alexander dispute the claim, including the highly regarded secondary source, Plutarch. In his writing he makes mention of a moment when Alexander's secondary naval commander, Onesicritus, was reading the Amazon passage of his Alexander history to King Lysimachus of Thrace who was on the original expedition: the king smiled at him and said "And where was I, then?"

The Roman writer Virgil's characterization of the Volscian warrior maiden Camilla in the Aeneid borrows heavily from the myth of the Amazons.

Quintus Smyrnaeus (Posthomerica i) lists the attendant warriors of Penthesilea: "Clonie was there, Polemusa, Derinoe, Evandre, and Antandre, and Bremusa, Hippothoe, dark-eyed Harmothoe, Alcibie, Derimacheia, Antibrote, and Thermodosa glorying with the spear."

Ainia In Greek mythology, Ainia was an enemy of Achilles and an Amazon, one of the twelve who accompanied Penthesilea to the Trojan War. Her name means "swiftness."

Antianara succeeded Penthesilea as Queen of the Amazons. She was best known for ordering her male servants to be crippled and castrated "as the lame best perform the acts of love".

In Quintus Smyrnaeus's Posthomerica (book i) Antibrote is one of the invented names for twelve Amazons who accompany Penthesilea to the Trojan War.

Antiope ([æn ˈtaɪ o pe]) is a figure from Greek mythology. She was the only Amazon known to have married. Daughter of Ares and sister to Melanippe and Hippolyte and possibly Orithya, queens of the Amazons, she was the wife of Theseus. There are various accounts of the manner in which Theseus became possessed of her, and of her subsequent fortunes.

In one version, during Heracles' ninth labor, which was to obtain the Girdle of Hippolyte when he captured the Amazons' capital of Themiscyra, his companion Theseus, king of Athens, abducted Antiope and brought her to his home (Diodorus iv. 16). They were eventually married and she gave birth to a son, Hippolytus (Plutarch, Theseus), who was named after Antiope's sister. Soon after, the Amazons attacked Athens in an attempt to rescue Antiope and to take back Hippolyte's girdle; however, the Amazons failed.

During this conflict, known as the Attic War, Antiope was said to have fought on the side of the Amazons. She was seriously wounded and could no longer defend herself from Theseus and his retainers (which included Heracles). Watching these events take place, the Amazon Molpadia killed the queen with an arrow (some say spear), saving her from violation by the Athenian king.

In an alternate story, Theseus had planned to marry Phaedra. Antiope was furious about this and decided to attack them on their wedding day. She promised to kill every person in attendance; however, she was slain instead, fulfilling an oracle's prophecy to that effect, though it took Theseus, Heracles, and an army to kill her. (Hyginus, Fab. 241).

And in yet another alternate version, Hippolyte marries Theseus and the subsequent attack on Athens does not occur.

Asteria was the sixth Amazon killed by Heracles when he came for Hippolyte's girdle. The Amazons (of whom Hippolyte was queen) knew that Heracles was invincible but fought him anyway.

Cleite was one of the twelve Amazons who were to accompany Penthesilea to the Trojan War. Her ship was blown off course and she landed in Italy, founding the city of Clete.

Helene was daughter of Tityrus and an Amazon. She fought Achilles and died after he seriously wounded her.

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.

This woman of many names was one of the queens of the Amazons. The Amazons were a warrior race of women who were descended of Ares, the god of war. They would sometimes meet with men of other nations to create future generations, but they would raise only the girls, killing the boys.

Hippolyta first appears in myth when she is kidnapped by Theseus, who was either accompanying Heracles on his quest against the Amazons, or he was just bored and looking for something to do. (It is generally accepted that Theseus acted on his own.) When Theseus first arrived at the land of the Amazons they expected no malice, and so Hippolyta came to his ship bearing gifts. Once she was aboard Theseus set sail for Athens, claiming the queen as his bride.

Theseus' brazen act sparked an Amazonomachy, a great battle between the Athenians and Amazons. Most of the great heroes in ancient Greece fought in an Amazonomachy, and Theseus could not be left out. The Amazons made camp in Attica on a hill that has been described as "bare and rocky", the Areios Pagos 1. It would become the most famous court of law of ancient times. The apostle Paul gave one of his best known speeches on the Areios Pagos.

Even though Hippolyta bore a son to Theseus, who was called Hippolytus, she was cast off when Theseus had eyes for Phaedra. Scorned, Hippolyta went back to the Amazons, while Hippolytus had problems of his own with his new stepmother. (Some sources paint Theseus in a more favorable light, saying that Hippolyta was dead before he and Phaedra were wed.)

Hippolyta also appears in the myth of Heracles. It was her girdle that Heracles was sent to retrieve for Admeta, the daughter of king Eurystheus. The girdle was a waist belt from Ares that signified her authority as queen of the Amazons.

When Heracles landed the Amazons received him warmly and Hippolyta came to his ship to greet him. Upon hearing his request, she agreed to let him take the girdle. Hera, however, was not pleased, as was often the case with Heracles. To stop him, Hera came down to the Amazons disguised as one of their own and ran through the land, crying that Heracles meant to kidnap their queen. Probably remembering all too well what Theseus had done, the Amazons charged toward the ship to save Hippolyta. Fearing that Hippolyta had betrayed him, Heracles hastily killed her, ripped the girdle from her lifeless body, and set sail, narrowly escaping the raging warriors.

An alternate story of Hippolyta's death is a direct result of Theseus' marriage to Phaedra. With an army of Amazons behind her, Hippolyta returned to Athens and stormed into the wedding of Theseus and Phaedra. She declared that anyone partaking in the festivities would perish, but in the melee that ensued she was killed, either accidentally by her companion Penthesileia or by Theseus' men.

Since Hippolyta obviously could not die twice (there are no stories of divine intervention or resurrection) there exists a strange paradox in Hippolyta. Some sources explain away this paradox by saying that Antiopê and Hippolyta are not the same woman, but, rather, are two separate queens of the Amazons, with different names and leading different lives.


Heracles' ninth labour was to obtain the girdle at the request of Admete, Eurystheus' daughter. Hippolyta was so intrigued by Heracles' muscles and lion skin, that she gave him the girdle without a fight. In one version of the story, Hera, dressed as an Amazon, spread rumours among the Amazons that Heracles was trying to kidnap their queen, so the Amazons attacked and Heracles killed Hippolyta in a rage, assuming that she had betrayed him. In another version she survived and was abducted by Theseus, who made her his wife. Another variant states that Queen Hippolyta was killed by her own subjects, but it was only because Hera told them Heracles had come to kidnap the queen.

After Heracles obtained the girdle, Theseus, one of Heracles's companions (along with Sthenelus and Telamon), kidnapped Antiope, another sister of Hippolyta. The Amazons then attacked the party (because Heracles' enemy Hera has spread a vicious rumour that Heracles was there to attack them or to kidnap Hippolyta), but Heracles and Theseus escaped with the girdle and Antiope. According to one version, Heracles killed Hippolyta as they fled. In order to rescue Antiope, the Amazons attacked Athens but failed, with Antiope dying in the onslaught in some versions.

In many versions Theseus married either Antiope or Hippolyta, having a son named Hippolytus. Theseus eventually married Phaedra, either after having left his wife or after the death of his wife in childbirth. In the version in which Theseus was married to and left Hippolyta, she tried to exact revenge by bringing the Amazons to Theseus and Phaedra's wedding in order to kill everyone. In some versions, this failed when she was killed by Theseus' men; in other versions, she was killed by Penthesilea, her sister, in a hunting accident. Hippolytus is said to have been killed by Theseus, his father, at the command of Poseidon. Aphrodite is said to have been angered when Hippolytus refused to worship her and instead worshipped Artemis. She stirred Phaedra's love in her stepson, which angered Theseus.

Melanippe Sister of Hippolyte and daughter of Ares. Heracles captured her and demanded Hippolyte's girdle in exchange for her freedom. Hippolyte complied and Heracles let her go.

Otrera (or Otrere) was a Queen of the Amazons, the consort of Ares as well as his daughter, and mother of Hippolyta, Antiope, Lysippe, Melanippe and Penthesilea.

Otrera is sometimes considered the mythological founder of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, which was closely connected with Amazons. She is also sometimes considered the founder of the Amazon nation, though many myths place the first Amazons much earlier.

Penthesilea (Greek: Πενθεσίλεια) or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen, daughter of Ares and Otrera, and sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe. Quintus Smyrnaeus[2] explains more fully than pseudo-Apollodorus how Penthesilea came to be at Troy: Penthesilea had killed Hippolyta with a spear when they were hunting deer; this accident caused Penthesilea so much grief that she wished only to die, but, as a warrior and an Amazon, she had to do so honorably and in battle. She therefore was easily convinced to join in the Trojan War, fighting on the side of Troy's defenders.

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.

According to the legend, she stayed with the Macedonian king for 13 days and nights in the hope that the great warrior would father a daughter by her. However, several of Alexander's biographers dispute the claim, including the highly regarded secondary source, Plutarch.

In his writing he makes mention of when Alexander's secondary naval commander, Onesicritus, was reading the Amazon passage of his Alexander history to King Lysimachus of Thrace who was on the original expedition, the king smiled at him and said "And where was I, then?"

The DC Comics superhero, Wonder Woman reflected this mythology. Princess Diana's name is reflective of the mythological character, Diana or Artemis. Her mother is Queen Hippolyta, or Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons. When Diana leaves the Amazons to travel to the world outside, she is known as both Wonder Woman, and as Diana Prince.

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