Women warriors

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* The Amazons of Ancient Greece

* Fights

* Amazon – from Greece to the New World

* A controversial etymology

* Amazon River

* The subject seems inexhaustible Amazon

* Main Bibliography

Women no longer remain outside or in the rear of the war as happened for millennia. Today they are both in decision making and in the battlefield. Opportunity to make a brief excursion into the myth of the most famous women warriors: the Amazon.

The legend of the Amazon warrior women or have had origins in the Battle of Thermodon, when the Greeks were victorious in the battle against these strange women. Those who were taken prisoners were taken in the ships at sea but revolted and men decimated. Unaware of the arts of navigation, drifted and reached the Sea of Azov, where lived the appointments.

Amazon managed to steal the horses initially, but ended up beating Dating. Only after seeing their lifeless bodies of Dating realize that women had been fighting. Strange is the attitude of the appointments that instead of decimating the Amazon, provide them with youth camps of the tribe to “incentivize” pairing, so that men are born physically superior warriors. But this happened more than six thousand years!

The Amazon, accustomed to their freedom, end up and go live from beyond the River Tanis (now River Don).

The Amazons are the first and most persistent myth of women living in communities at large. Powerful because they handled weapons, it is curious that this factor refer superiority was scoring for the men who crossed them. Having arms is, as now, to have power. It is considered that the regions where they lived had large reserves of iron. Hence manufactured weapons themselves. And were warriors because they wanted to conquer territory to settle. On the descent, as usually lived near the sea or on islands, were regularly visited by adventurous men or sailors or so gullible, that I willingly were paired with women. They only stayed with the daughters and repudiated or killed the male. There were also times of barbarism.

The success and sustainability of the Amazon interest precisely because they embody a society where social roles were reversed. Women wrestlers, owners of horses and weapons and without traditional family organized fascinated and were immortalized in folk tales of a vast universe.

In the third century. C. Amazons have already reached Greece, previously only knew of its location in Asia Minor. For centuries their imaginary stories populated the Greeks and Romans, and later with Columbus myth was transported to the New World. The presence of the famous warrior in the Trojan War was an important element of myth and, in the Iliad, Priam remembers the days when he and his men fought the. They just considered them “” antineirai “, meaning” equal to men “therefore equals. The hero of the Iliad, Achilles, enter into a fight with Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons.

In Virgil’s Aeneid (70-19 a.) Epic poem speaks of the Trojan War and the Amazon.

According to experts the myth of the Amazons is found in all continents except Oceania. They are as true in China, in “Mysterious Islands” in accounts of Arab sailors XI to XIII century. Through the folklore of Scandinavia, Russia, Bohemia, Africa and the Indies. We can trace the story of his life and conclude that the Amazons strongly impressed men of all time. They were and are a recurring theme and have served as inspiration for literary works and have seduced and enticed to painters, sculptors, composers and playwrights.

The Amazons of Ancient Greece

Amazon is known that settled on the island of Lesbos, home of Sappho (most poet of ancient Greece [VII and VI century BC.]), In Lemnos and Samothrace in, farther north. According to Greek mythology, the Amazons were daughters of the god Ares (god of war, son of Zeus) and the nymph Harmonia (linked to the worship of the gods of Samothrace). The mythology of these different women comes from the early history of Greece.

The Amazons would be originating from Thrace or the southern shores of the Black Sea (Caucasus) and initially settled in Cappadocia (now Turkish territory) inhabiting the banks of the River Thermodon. (In the seventeenth century, Rubens painted two expressive paintings where represents the struggles of the Amazons against Theseus, just over the river). The Amazons would have taken over Ephesus, where they founded the oldest temple to the goddess Artemis, goddess is related to love between women. They would also founded the city of Mytilene, on the island of Lesbos, frankly today related to lesbianism, something that filled countless websites. There’s a lesbian Belgian magazine, named Penthesilea.

Mastectomy women also identify with the name of the Amazons.

One of the reported encounters with the Amazon was the Argonauts who came to the island of Lemnos. They were well received, so much so that they remained there a year, almost forgetting his mission, which was the demand of the “Golden Fleece.”


The most famous of these bold fighting against the Corinthian women were Bellerophon (one of the heroes of the Iliad), which won and who devoted Euripides tragedy against the hero of Athens, Theseus, who fell in love with the queen Hippolyta, and Hipolito whose union was born, star of another tragedy by Euripides (V century BC.) and one of the few children of Amazonas would reach adulthood, and had a tragic end; against Achilles, another hero of Homer, which fell in love with another queen of the Amazons: Penthesilea. In this case, the Trojan War put the two lovers into opposite camps. Achilles defeated Queen of the Amazons, but at the time he buried his sword in the chest felt captivated by the charm of his fearless opponent, but it was too late. The combat is definitely more represented against Hercules, and this confrontation called the eighth of the Twelve Labors of Hercules, which was to wrest the belt of Hippolyte. This, of love, offered without a fight, but the jealous wife of Zeus, disguised as Amazon, caused confusion among the enemy army and Hercules killed Hippolyta in error. Another queen of the Amazons, Thalestris, would have defeated the Persian king, Cyrus the Great.

The long Middle Ages also chose the theme of Amazonas. For many painters were pretext for them to showcase their talent drawing and painting female bodies, which otherwise would not have allowed the standards of the day. In the Renaissance the subject was taken with another intention and wisdom. Many great painters who have immortalized. And come to our days, always giving rise to new interpretations.

In The Divine Comedy of Dante and Camoens, more specifically Lusiads, influenced by the Odyssey, when Odysseus delayed Calipo goddess under the charms of love, chanting IX and X on the Island of love, there is a clear influence of the islands inhabited by these women.

The symbolism of the Amazons, as warriors was also important for women of the period of the French Revolution (1789). They were known in 1790, the Amazons of VIC (Hautes Pyrenees).

Amazon – from Greece to the New World

In 1492 Christopher Columbus reached the New World, later known as American-Indian and not, as intended, let’s see how he and his men reported the myth of the Amazons.

Columbus, on the return of the first voyage to the New World, to arrive at one of the Caribbean islands, suffered from a warrior tribe, a decidedly hostile reception. About this unexpected meeting of Santangel wrote to Luis, a confidant of Ferdinand and Isabella, in these terms: “(…) is the first island that is, for those who go to Spain towards the Indies and where there is no men. These women do not deal with any female activity, only running exercises with the bow and arrows made of reeds and covered with sheets of copper that have in abundance. ”

One of the pilots who accompanied the navigator Ferdinand Magellan told the Italian Filippo Pigafetta (1491-1534) who was an island with only women. Pigafetta tells us Ocoloro Island, near Java (Asia), where women ‘birthing a child, is killed if male and if female, they keep them. And so elusive is the loving conversation showed that if any man dared to land on his island, struggled to take his life. ”

The Spanish conquistador Hernn Corts, he explored the west coast of Mexico, about 1520, told the Emperor Charles V that many people claimed it was true that there was’ an island populated by women with no male. At certain times men will visit the mainland, it is delivered to them and giving birth daughters stay with them, if they reject males are born. ”

Also in 1535, Diego de Almagro (1475-1538), who participated in the conquest of Peru with Pizarro, said he heard in the area, ensuring that accounts of Indians had a vast region dominated by women whose queen was called Guanomilla (which means golden sky) and in that tribe had both “white and yellow metal” that even simple food preparation utensils were crafted with these precious metals.

A disputed etymology

According to the Greeks, the Amazons, to use best bow, arrows and spears, they would have compressed, burned or cut, at puberty, the right breast. Hence the origin of the name (prefix of negation) + bundles = chest (in Greek), which means women without breast. This etymology has been accepted without objection, is not well understood how. As a woman common sense tells me that no woman or reduce your body burn more delicate and more erotic was not for whatever reason. Furthermore, very recently published Devambez time in Pierre Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae Lexicon, 819 samples of representations where the Amazons never appear with only one breast. The historian Andr Trevet spoke of Amazonas in Brazil, and he refused to accept that the right breast oblation, without danger of illness or death.

The oldest representations of Amazons appear in terracotta and date from the seventh century. C. Later in the jars are countless Greek (Athenian vases and black figures). Probably date from the encounter between Achilles and Penthesilea of 530-520 a. C. There are references to more than 60 names of Amazonas.

In general, the Amazons are women represented as well established, elegant, using the mean-adjusted waist gown with a bare breast and the other suggested, light dresses below. In his hand are the bow and quiver where transported back arrows. Also represented are a two-edged ax instead of the arc.

Sculptors and painters the immortalized, and the most famous sculpture is the frieze of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, which were immortalized fighting Hercules.

Amazon River

Perhaps the largest river in South America has been partially browsed Portuguese early in the sixteenth century, but was Vicente Pinzn (brother of Martin Pinzon, who commanded the Pinta on the first voyage of Columbus) who, in 1499 or 1500 will, for the first time, reached the mouth of the great river, which he named “sweet sea”, thinking it was a sea.

However, at present it is accepted that was the Spanish Francisco de Orellana who have “discovered” in February 1542. This sailor was part of the expedition commanded by Gonzalo Pizarro, brother of the conqueror of Peru, Francisco Pizarro, who had left Quito, at Christmas 1541, with the aim of crossing the Andes in search of Eldorado. Gonzalo Pizarro sent Orellana led a group of men for supplies sufficient to cross the inhospitable territory trans. However, as Orellana did not return in the twelve days agreed, Gonzalo Pizarro, believing him dead or disappeared, returned to Quito. Fray Gaspar de Carvajal, who accompanied Francisco de Orellana in this fabulous adventure, recounts what happened. The expedition, in February 1542, made a stop along the Rio Napo (Ecuador) in the vicinity of Indian Territory that would Irimaraezes the Spanish asked if they would “visit the territory of Amurianos whom they called ‘great ladies ‘So if they did, tomasen precautions, because they were very numerous and that they would be killed. ” Carvajal described the countless meetings and mishaps. In late June, San Juan, the expedition made a stop to celebrate the saint, but again had to deal with a hostile tribe. Orellana tried understanding, but the natives said “they would take us all to take us to the warrior women.” The Spanish responded with gunfire, the fighting intensified and Carvajal was wounded himself. Arise then referred women with bows and arrows in aid of the tribe. “They fought with such ardor that the Indians did not dare go back and if anyone fleeing before us were the ones who killed them with sticks (…). They are very white and tall, with very long hair, intertwined and wrapped around the head. Members have big, strong and purposely go naked, covered in their shame, with their bows and arrows in hand, are as combative as ten Indians (…). Certainly there was one of those women who got a foot arrow by one of the launches, and the other, a little less, so that our launches seemed porcupines. “Are words of Carvajal. A thousand miles of river descend Orellana and his companions and it was he who christened this immense river Amazon. (Orellana, as all navigators of his time, had read the classics and believed in their myths. So what better name could be given to that majestic river).

In Portuguese America also became popular myth. In 1576, Magalhes but Gandavo Maranho great river called “Amazon River” corroborating disclosure of myth in northeastern Brazil. And forward this reporter: “Some pigs are also among them who choose to be chaste which no man knows nothing any moral, nor consent to, but why kill them. These let the whole army of women and men imitate and perform their jobs as if they were persons of the female sex, take a haircut in the same way as men, and go to war with their bows and arrows and hunting by perseverance always with men and each has a woman who serves and who claims to be married, and so communicate and speak as man and wife. ”

The Spanish Jesuit Cristbal de Acua, in 1639, wrote that in New Granada (Colombia) had found an “Indian who said she had been in the lands inhabited by women warriors.”

Even our priest Antonio Vieira repeated what was said about the Amazon as it relates to his chest (only one) warriors of Lemnos, in his Sermon No. 9.

Friar Joo dos Santos, a Dominican of the XV and XVI, Ethiopia connoisseur would say that in a region of Mozambique, it was said that “Together with Damute is a province of women as manly and robust, they often walk with arms in the hands, both in the hunting of wild animals and wild animals, as in war, that are presented, which show more effort and encouragement own warlike men than women faint … “. Among these islands is a populated by women with no men among them, but in two months of the year as do the support of Ethiopia (…) “.

In the eighteenth century, the Condomine Monsieur notes that “this tradition is universally used in all the nations that inhabit the banks of the Amazon River, 150 miles distant, inland to Caiena (…) and their languages are always called by the name of “women without husbands” or “excellent women”. Later, in Africa, Herkovitz studied the impact of “myth” in the ancient kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin), which states that existed in the Amazon region and anticipates that they were recruited from athletic women, virgins being mandatory, and that were a substantial number of them, using lances weapon.

The subject seems inexhaustible Amazon.

In 1997, New Scientist magazine published an article by researcher Jeaninne Davis-Kimball referred to the discovery in Russia, several graves of women. The identification of these women as Amazon was made from the weapons with which they were buried and injuries caused by the use of weapons such as daggers and swords small with which they were buried.

Today the myth is disappearing to give rise to a theory about its very existence. Lesbia Magazine In January 1999 we read that on the banks of the River Don burial mounds were found, with 2,400 years where women were 21 graves buried with their weapons. And recent discoveries in Hungary and China have come to enrich the theory of the real existence of the Amazons.

Amazons of Greece, America, Asia, Africa, Europe were a reality or not The Brazilian anthropologist Darci Ribeiro (1992-1997) said:

“A people-counting woman alone with them, without men themselves, using foreigners as players is plausible and even viable. A town is only a utopia wild males. ”

And the “new riders” Women who shot down prejudices and earn their pay every day and have not accepted the traditional domestic role We meet every day, some more warlike than others. And women in the Armed Forces Curiously, in a recent interview with Women’s PSP (Police Public Segurana ‘security police’) in command positions, all claimed that they never had need to fire their weapons. Women are pacifists, even in professions where they may have to be “warriors” Perhaps the writer and journalist Ines Pedrosa we can respond.


CORTEZ, Hernn, Letters of Relation of the Conquest of Mexico, Madrid, Oxford University Press, 1970.

Darmon, Pierre, Mythologie of Femme dans LAncienne France, XVIe to XIXe sicles, 1983.

FRASER, Antonia, Boadicea’s Chariot: The Warrior Queens, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.

Gandavo but de Magalhes, history gives Santa Cruz Province, Lisbon, Alfa, 1989.

PEREIRA, Maria Helena da Rocha, As Amazon: um myth singular destination in Oceanos: Viver not Brazilian Colonial, No. 42 (April / Junho) 2000, p.163-170.

SOUSA, Gabriel Soares de, Notcia do Brasil, Lisbon, Alfa, 1989.

Sobol, Donald J., The Amazons of Greek Mythology, Nova Iorque, 1972.


Lusa de Paiva Boleo

Spanish translation:

Nicolas Lopez Molina

Text revised 03/03/18

For the magazine High