Garner's Greek Mythology

EP 28: The Proud, Audacious Amazons

August 01, 2021 Patrick Garner Season 2 Episode 28
Garner's Greek Mythology
EP 28: The Proud, Audacious Amazons
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to EPISODE 28 -- The Proud, Audacious Amazons

The Amazons were sired by the war god, Ares. They reflected their parentage well.  As fighting machines they were almost unstoppable. That is, until they confronted Greece's greatest heroes.

In this episode we look at their life style -- and their grandest conflicts. Over the course of almost a thousand years they opposed Heracles, Theseus, Achilles and even partied with Alexander the Great.

Narrated by mythologist and best-selling author, Patrick Garner, Garner's Greek Mythology is unlike any other Greek history series.  Here these divine beings are viewed as if they were anything but mythical…

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EPISODE 28-- The Proud & Audacious Amazons

THERE'S A SMALL BAND OF WOMEN WHO ARE EASILY THE MOST FAMOUS OF ALL TIME. I SPEAK OF THE AMAZONS

EVEN TO THIS DAY THEY’RE CONSIDERED THE FIERCEST, BRAVEST & PROUDEST WOMEN TO HAVE EVER LIVED. AND THEIR FEROCITY WASN'T DEFENSIVE.

HARDLY, THEY LIVED TO FIGHT & REVELED IN THEIR SKILLS ON HORSEBACK, BOW SHOOTING, & COMBAT — NO ONE DISPUTED THAT IN BATTLE THEY WERE EQUAL TO ALMOST ANY MAN.

3,000 YEARS AGO THEY WERE FEARED. TODAY WE REGARD THEM AS GLAMOROUS WARRIORS, ADMIRABLE WOMEN.

IN THIS EPISODE WE'LL AVOID OVER-HYPING THEIR ALLURE. IT'S TOO EASY TO PRETEND THEY WERE ALL LIKE WONDER WOMAN, WHO’S DEPICTED IN COMICS & MOVIES AS A GREAT FIGHTER WITH A COMPASSIONATE HEART.

NO, INSTEAD, AS WE'LL SEE, THE AMAZONS GLORIED IN BATTLE.

THIS IS EPISODE 28 OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY. WE HAVE LISTENERS FROM 137 COUNTRIES & COUNTING. WELCOME TO EVERYONE, WHEREVER YOU ARE.

I'M YOUR HOST, MYTHOLOGIST & BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, PATRICK GARNER. 

THESE STORIES ABOUT THE GODS HAVE BEEN TOLD FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. BUT NOW THERE ARE NEW STORIES THAT ARE AS COMPELLING.

IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY, CHECK OUT MY BOOKS ABOUT THE GODS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD. 

YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT THEM & ABOUT THIS PODCAST AT PATRICKGARNERBOOKS.COM. 

AND AS ALWAYS, THIS PODCAST FOCUSES ON ONE THING ... GREEK GODS, OF COURSE. THEY, LIKE YOU, ARE HERE, NOW ...

THE ORIGINAL AMAZONS WERE THE DAUGHTERS OF ARES, THE GOD OF WAR.

AND THEIR MOTHER? HARMONIA, THE GODDESS OF HARMONY. THIE UNION SOUNDS ALMOST CHARMING — LIKE OPPOSITES ATTRACTING — EXCEPT THAT ARES WAS ALSO HARMONIA'S FATHER.

SO, ALTHOUGH THE AMAZONS' ORIGIN WAS DIVINE, THEY WERE THE RESULT OF ANOTHER OLYMPIC GOD'S INCESTUOUS RELATIONSHIP. 

... AND ARES' PARENTING SKILLS? HE GAVE HIS DAUGHTERS WEAPONS, SHIELDS & BATTLEFIELD STRATEGY THROUGHOUT THEIR  CENTURIES OF TERROR.

THE AMAZONS LIVED ON THE SOUTHERN COAST OF THE BLACK SEA NEAR A CITY CALLED THEMISKYRA. 

HOMEBODIES THEY WERE NOT. THEY REGULARLY SENT RAIDING PARTIES AS FAR SOUTH AS EGYPT, MORE THAN 800 MILES AWAY.

THEY ACTED NO DIFFERENTLY THAN MEN. THEY VIOLENTLY TOOK WHAT THEY WANTED, SOLD CAPTIVES AS SLAVES & KILLED ANYONE WHO STOOD IN THEIR WAY.

YET TODAY, WE IGNORE THESE HARD TRUTHS & EXALT THE AMAZONS ... FOR INSTANCE, THERE'S A SCHOOL OF MODERN FEMINISM CALLED AMAZON FEMINISM.

IT CELEBRATES WOMEN'S PHYSICAL PROWESS AS A MEANS TOWARD GENDER EQUALITY. BUT THE AMAZONS MAINTAINED THEIR FITNESS SOLELY TO DOMINATE.

THEY HAD NO INTEREST IN EQUALITY. FIRST, THEY CONSIDERED THEMSELVES SUPERIOR TO MEN & SECOND, THEY DESPISED THEM AS UNTRUSTWORTHY. 

THEY WERE FAR TOO PROUD TO COMPROMISE ... 

THEY WOULD POINT OUT HOW MARRIED WOMEN THROUGH THE MEDITERRANEAN HAD BECOME ENSLAVED. THEY REFUSED TO SIT ALL DAY BEFORE A LOOM.

LET'S LOOK AT HOW THEY LIVED ... FIRST & FOREMOST, THE AMAZONS WERE A WOMEN-ONLY SOCIETY. 

MEN WERE WELCOMED ANNUALLY BUT THEN ONLY AS BREEDING MACHINES. MALE OFFSPRING WERE IMMEDIATELY KILLED OR, MORE RARELY, GIVEN AWAY.

FEMALE BABIES WERE, ON THE OTHER HAND, CELEBRATED ... IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE AMAZONS WERE NOT IDEALISTS. 

THEY HAD NOT FOUNDED THEIR SOCIETY ON HIGH PRINCIPLES & MORAL CODES. THEY WERE, AFTER ALL, SIRED BY ARES.

THEIR GOVERNING STRUCTURE WAS THAT OF A WARRIOR MALE SOCIETY. LIKE THE SPARTANS THEY LIVED FOR THE HIVE & GENERATED NO PHILOSOPHERS, POETS OR ART.

INSTEAD, THEY PURSUED ACTIVITIES OTHER WOMEN WERE NOT ALLOWED.

THEY WERE SUPERB IN THE ART OF AMBUSH & CALVARY CHARGES. AS A WEAPON THEY FAVORED A TWO-SIDED BATTLE AXE CALLED A LABRY.

THEIR SHIELDS WERE NOT ROUND, BUT SHAPED LIKE A CRESCENT MOON ... THAT'S NOT SURPRISING AS THEY PRIMARILY WORSHIPPED SELENE, WHOSE SYMBOL WAS THE CRESCENT MOON. 

THEY ALSO WORSHIPPED ARTEMIS, THE HUNTRESS. THE AMAZONS FOUNDED THE GREAT TEMPLE IN EPHESUS TO ARTEMIS, WHICH BECAME ONE OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD ...

SOME HISTORIC WRITINGS SUGGEST A PECULIAR AMAZONIAN PRACTICE MAY HAVE BEEN THE REMOVAL OF A GIRL'S RIGHT BREAST TO FACILITATE LOFTING A SPEAR OR DRAWING AN ARROW.

PHYSICIANS TODAY SAY THE PRACTICE WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE ... THAT GIVEN THE PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY, NO GIRL COULD HAVE SURVIVED.

AND WE HAVE ENDLESS CONTRADICTORY SCULPTURES & IMAGES ON POTTERY OF AMAZONS THAT FAIL TO SHOW A SINGLE MUTILATION.

HUNDREDS OF EXAMPLES OF GREEK ART SHOW THEM ON HORSES & IN BATTLE, AXES RAISED, BOWS DRAWN. 

THEY'RE ALL LITHE, BEAUTIFUL — AND DOUBLE-BREASTED ...

PERHAPS THE EXPLANATION IS THAT THE AMAZONIAN NAME IS DERIVED FROM THE GREEK WORD AMAZOI, WHICH MEANS OPPOSING THINGS: IN ONE CONTEXT IT CAN MEAN BREAST-LESS, & IN ANOTHER, "HAVING TWO BREASTS."

THIS IS A BIT LIKE THE ENGLISH WORD BOLT: IT CAN MEAN TO SECURE, OR TO FLEE. 

REGARDLESS, EVEN MODERN WRITERS HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO RESIST REPEATING THE STORY ...

TODAY WE THINK OF THESE WOMEN AS FIGHTING MACHINES ... GREAT SKILL TOOK THEM FAR. 

THEY'D COME INTO BATTLE ON HORSEBACK SWINGING THEIR AXES & MOWING DOWN MEN.

THAT'S PROBABLY NOT INACCURATE. AGAINST THE AVERAGE SOLDIER THEY MUST HAVE SEEMED INVINCIBLE.

BUT IRONICALLY THEIR REPUTATION SET THEM UP FOR REPEATED CHALLENGES FROM THE GREEK HEROES OF THE TIME.

WHENEVER THESE CHALLENGES OCCURRED, THE AMAZONS CAME UP SHORT.. 

WHAT HEROES CHALLENGED THEM? THE FIRST WAS HERACLES. HE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY THESEUS.

CENTURIES LATER AN AMAZON QUEEN FACED OFF AGAINST ACHILLES ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF TROY.

BUT THE GRANDEST STORY INVOLVED THE BIGGEST GREEK HERO OF ALL: ALEXANDER THE GREAT. HE HAD A FABLED RENDEZVOUS WITH AN AMAZON.

LET'S LOOK AT THESE STORIES.

HOW OFTEN HERACLES APPEARS IN THE ANCIENT GREEK MYTHOLOGY! AT THE TIME HE SOUGHT OUT THE AMAZONS, THEIR QUEEN WAS HIPPOLYTA.

HIPPOLYTA'S VERY NAME DENOTED POWER. HIPPO IN GREEK MEANS HORSE & ONLY THOSE FROM NOBILITY WERE ALLOWED SUCH HONORIFICS.

SHE WAS RENOWNED NOT ONLY FOR HER BEAUTY, BUT FOR THE GIFT SHE WORE FROM HER FATHER, ARES. IT WAS A DAZZLING GOLDEN WAISTBAND.

YOU MAY REMEMBER FROM OUR EPISODE ON HERACLES THAT HE WAS CHALLENGED WITH 12 SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE TASKS. THE 9th WAS TO OBTAIN HIPPOLYTA'S GOLDEN BELT.

HE SAILED INTO THE BLACK SEA WITH THESEUS & OTHER WARRIORS. AT FIRST THE AMAZONS  GREETED THEM WITH CURIOSITY.

BUT ZEUS' WIFE, HERA, DISGUISED HERSELF & WARNED THE AMAZONS THAT HERACLES CAME IN DECEIT, THAT HIS SOLE INTENTION WAS TO STEAL HIPPOLYTA'S BELT.

THE AMAZONS HAD ALREADY BEGUN TO SUSPECT HIM. AT HERA'S WARNING, THEY PULLED THEIR WEAPONS & ATTACKED THE MEN.

HERACLES IMMEDIATELY KILLED THE FAMOUS HIPPOLYTA. THEN THESEUS ABDUCTED HER SISTER, ANTIOPE, TAKING HER BACK TO ATTICA.

A MASSIVE BATTLE ENSUED ... IN THE END, THE AMAZONS SUFFERED HORRIC LOSSES, WHILE HERACLES & THESEUS RETURNED HOME UNBLOODIED.

ARES & HERA WATCHED FROM AFAR. THEY COULDN'T INTERVENE. HERACLES WAS ZEUS' SON. THE MIGHTY GOD WOULD HAVE PUNISHED BOTH OF THEM IF THEY'D MADE A MOVE.

AND WHAT BECAME OF THE ABDUCTED ANTIOPE? AT FIRST SHE RESISTED THESEUS. BUT IN TIME SHE FELL IN LOVE & MARRIED HIM.

THEY HAD A SON SHE NAMED HIPPOLYTUS IN HONOR OF HER SISTER. SHE WAS THE ONLY AMAZON KNOWN TO HAVE ABANDONED HER TRIBE.

YEARS PASSED & THE AMAZONS ATTACKED THE CITY TO RESCUE ANTIOPE.

THE NEW AMAZON QUEEN FOUND ANTIOPE. AND WAS AMAZED WHEN SHE REFUSED TO LEAVE.

INFURIATED, THE QUEEN RAN HER SPEAR THROUGH HER. THE ENSUING BATTLE QUICKLY TURNED AGAINST THE AMAZONS.

THE QUEEN HERSELF WAS KILLED BY THE ENRAGED THESEUS ...

LET'S MOVE ON ... AT THE TIME OF THE TROJAN WAR, ACHILLES WAS GREECE'S GREATEST WARRIOR.

THE TROJAN'S ONLY HERO HAD BEEN HECTOR. ACHILLES HAD EASILY KILLED HIM, THEN DRAGGED HIS BODY BY CHARIOT AROUND THE CITY.

IN THE WAKE OF THIS DISRESPECT, A NEW AMAZONIAN QUEEN SWEPT ONTO THE BATTLEFIELD LIKE AN AVENGING ANGEL.

THE TROJANS COULDN'T BELIEVE THEIR LUCK.

SHE ASSURED THE TROJANS THAT SHE WOULD DRIVE THE GREEKS BACK TO THEIR SHIPS, THEN BURN THE VESSELS AS IF THEY WERE DRY TINDER.

HER PRIDE & BEAUTY WERE REMARKABLE. AND EVEN BETTER, SHE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A DOZEN OF HER BEST WARRIORS, ALL EQUALLY COMPETENT IN MATTERS OF WAR.

THE TROJANS DARED TO BELIEVE THAT THE TIDE HAD TURNED. THEY HAD LOST THEIR BELOVED HECTOR. NOW, A MIRACLE HAD OCCURRED IN THE WAKE OF HIS DEATH.

BACKED BY HER WARRIORS, THE QUEEN DREW HER BATTLEAXE ... LETTING OUT A TERRIFYING, EAR-SPLITTING SCREAM — ONE SHE'D HEARD ARES SCREAM ON BATTLEFIELDS — SHE CHARGED INTO THE GREEKS.

AND AS SHE HAD PREDICTED, NO MAN COULD STAND AGAINST HER. THE GREEKS STAGGERED BACK, 100s KILLED IN MOMENTS.

THE TROJANS CHEERED. BUT WORD HAD ALREADY GOTTEN BACK TO ACHILLES WHO HAD BEEN RESTING IN HIS TENT.

HE STEPPED ONTO THE BATTLEFIELD, IRRITATED TO HAVE BEEN DISTURBED. HE HAD NO IDEA WHO THIS NEW WARRIOR WAS, BUT DECIDED TO END THE CHARGE.

WITHIN MOMENTS HE ADVANCED TO CONFRONT THE WARRIOR. THE QUEEN HERSELF, SEEING ACHILLES, WAS SWEPT WITH A SENSE OF TRIUMPH: 

FINALLY, SHE WOULD SHOW WHO WAS GREATEST. SHE WHIRLED HER BATTLEAXE IN A VAST CIRCLE THEN LEAPT TOWARD HER OPPONENT.

ACHILLES THOUGH WAS HARDLY INTIMIDATED. HE'D ALREADY DONE AWAY WITH HECTOR. NOW IT WAS TIME TO END THIS CHARADE.

HE THRUST HIS SPEAR INTO AN OPENING IN HER ARMOR. THE BLOW WAS SO GREAT THAT THE AMAZON QUEEN WAS KNOCKED ONTO HER BACK.

HER DEATH CAME SO QUICKLY THAT SHE HAD NO FINAL WORDS. ACHILLES HAD TRIUMPHED EASILY. 

WHEN HE REMOVED HIS ENEMY'S HELMET, HE WAS STUNNED TO SEE THAT HE'D KILLED A WOMAN.

SUCH WAS HER BEAUTY, EVEN IN DEATH, THAT HE FELL IN LOVE ... IN RESPECT FOR HER BRAVERY, HE GAVE HER SPECIAL HONORS NEVER BEFORE AFFORDED THE TROJAN SIDE.

AS YOU MAY KNOW, ACHILLES HIMSELF DIED SHORTLY BEFORE THE WAR ENDED. APOLLO GUIDED AN ARROW SHOT BY PARIS THAT HIT ACHILLES' FAMOUS HEEL. IT WAS HIS ONE VULNERABLE SPOT.

THE GREEKS MARKED HIS DEATH WITH A MASSIVE FUNERAL PYRE, BUILDING A MOUND TO FOREVER DENOTE HIS RESTING PLACE. 

YEARS LATER, THE SURVIVING AMAZONS MOUNTED AN EXPEDITION TO AVENGE THEIR DEAD QUEEN. 

THEY PLANNED TO DESECRATE HIS ASHES & LEAVE HIS GHOST UNSETTLED. IT ALL SEEMED SO SIMPLE.

WHEN THEY ARRIVED NEAR THE PLACE THAT MARKED HIS BURIAL, AN APPARITION BLOCKED THEIR WAY.

IT WAS THE GHOST OF ACHILLES. THEIR HORSES WERE STRUCK WITH TERROR & RAN AMUCK.

MANY OF THE AMAZONS WERE THROWN TO THE GROUND. IN SHAME THEY WERE FORCED TO RETREAT ...

THE AMAZONS NEVER RETURNED. THERE WERE POWERS PROTECTING THIS MAN THAT EVEN THEY COULDN'T OVERCOME ... 

A FINAL HERO-RELATED STORY IS BETWEEN ALEXANDER THE GREAT & THE LAST AMAZON QUEEN. THIS WOULD HAVE OCCURRED AROUND 323 B.C.

ALEXANDER HAD ALREADY CONQUERED THE KNOWN WORLD. THE QUEEN CONVINCED HERSELF THAT A UNION WITH HIM WOULD RESULT IN A DAUGHTER WHO WOULD GROW UP TO BE THE GREATEST WOMAN WARRIOR EVER BORN.

ALEXANDER AGREED & 300 AMAZONS JOINED HER AT ALEXANDER'S CAMP.

FOR 13 DAYS THE WARRIOR WOMEN & HIS ARMY SPENT THEIR DAYS & NIGHTS TOGETHER.

AT THE END THE AMAZONS RETURNED HOME, EAGER FOR THE FRUITS THAT MIGHT FLOW FROM THE UNUSUAL UNION.

WEEKS LATER, ALEXANDER DIED MYSTERIOUSLY. AND THE QUEEN? DID HER SCHEME SUCCEED? 

NO, SHE DIED CHILDLESS ... 

THIS LAST STORY ABOUT ALEXANDER & THE QUEEN MAKES  A WONDERFUL TALE. BUT IT MAY BE A FANTASY. 

SIMILAR STORIES ARE TOLD ABOUT THE AMAZONS & THE SCYTHIAN WARRIORS.

IN THIS CASE, THE LANDMARK EDITION OF THE CAMPAIGNS OF ALEXANDER, CONSIDERED THE MOST AUTHORITATIVE RECOUNT OF ALEXANDER'S CONQUESTS, MAKES NO REFERENCE TO THIS INCIDENT.

SUCH A SIGNIFICANT RENDEZVOUS — A GATHERING OF THE FIERCEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD WITH THE GREATEST CONQUERER TO HAVE LIVED — WOULD HAVE BEEN WELL DOCUMENTED.

ALEXANDER HIMSELF EMPLOYED HISTORIANS WHO TRAVELED WITH HIM. YET, THEY'RE SILENT ...

SO HOW DO WE SUMMARIZE THE AMAZONS?

THEIR SUCCESSES WERE UNPARALLELED WHEN IT CAME TO A BLITZING ATTACK. THEIR RAIDING PARTIES WERE UNSTOPPABLE. 

THEIR FAME SPREAD ACROSS THE REGION. AFTER ALL, THEY WERE WOMEN. YET SO MANY OF THEIR GRANDEST BATTLES ENDED UP GOING AWRY. 

THEY NEVER FAILED WHEN THEY WENT ONE TO ONE AGAINST A LOCAL ARMY. FEW WARRIORS COULD BEAT AN AMAZON IN DIRECT CONFRONTATION.

BUT GREECE'S GREATEST WARRIORS — THE HEROES WHO KILLED THE GORGON, SLAYED DRAGONS & OUTWITTED THE MINOTAUR — PREVAILED OVER THE AMAZONS ALMOST WITHOUT EFFORT.

STILL, THESE WOMEN DID THRIVE ON THE BLACK SEA FOR ALMOST A MILLENNIUM. THAT ALONE IS ASTOUNDING.

... IN REALITY, THEY WERE SOMEWHAT THE FEMALE EQUIVALENT OF THE SPARTANS. LIKE THEM, WAR & VIOLENCE & PRIDE DROVE THEIR ENTIRE REASON FOR BEING.

I'M CAUTIOUS ABOUT OVERSTATING THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS ... YET WITHOUT HESITATION, WE CAN CELEBRATE THEIR BRAVERY, PROWESS & ALMOST UNIMAGINABLE AUDACITY.

JOIN ME ... FOR THE NEXT EPISODE OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY

IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU HEAR, BE SURE TO VISIT Patrick-Garner-Books-dot-com OR FIND ME ON AMAZON ... 

I ASSURE YOU, MY NOVELS ABOUT THE GREEK GODS ARE AS ENTERTAINING AS MY PODCASTS!

A GREAT WAY TO FIND OUT IS TO DOWNLOAD MY AUDIBLE BOOK, HOMO DIVINITAS. YOU CAN GET IT AT AMAZON OR AUDIBLE.

AND THANKS FOR LISTENING ... THIS IS YOUR HOST, PATRICK GARNER ...