Who Were the Amazons?
So, who were these mysterious figures? Well, Amazons were a warrior society in Greek mythology. Interestingly enough, this entire nation consisted of only women. And the queen of these mighty female warriors was called Hippolyte.
Under the leadership of their queen, Amazons conquered many places. From Scythia to Egypt, and everywhere in-between, they were some of the fiercest fighters. However, conquering wasn’t their only prowess. These mighty women also founded cities, such as Ephesos and Cyme, among others.
They lived by the city of Themiscyra by the Black Sea. Which was a mysterious part of the world to the Greeks. In their mythology, Amazons were the daughters of the god of war, Ares himself. Naturally, that explains why they were so renowned for their courage and their battle skills.
An interesting thing about the Amazons is that they might have actually existed. Well, sort of. In the dry, grassy plains of Eurasian steppes, archaeologists found lavish burial sites, many of which belonged to female warriors.
These burial sites can be connected to the Scythians, Hittites, and Sarmatians. These people resided in the area and were known for their horse-riding. So, these mighty female warriors who rode their horses through the steppes might have been the inspiration for the myth of Amazons!
What’s Unusual About Their Reproduction?
At this point, you might be wondering how the Amazons managed to reproduce? After all, their nation was made up of only women, right? Well, they had their ways!
While there were no men in their own nation, there were many of them in the neighboring tribe, the Gargareans, who were visited by the Amazons annually for reproduction purposes. Some stories also speak of them raiding ships and finding men there. Or copulating with prisoners of war. This made their method of reproduction in Greek myth rather unique.
To make sure their nation consisted of only women, the Amazons would only keep the female children. Male babies would be returned to their fathers or, on some occasions, killed or left to the elements.
There is another reason why the reproduction and lifestyle of the Amazons were unusual in the context of Greek mythology. Mainly, it is because by doing what they did, they took on traditionally masculine roles. In Greece and many surrounding nations, conquering and pillaging were largely left to men. It was also usually men who sought out women, not the other way around. However, the Amazons had their dime turned on those ideas.
Why Amazons Follow These Procedures
But what was the reason for the Amazons to follow such ways? Why did they choose to reproduce in such an unusual manner? Well, their ways of reproduction were closely tied to their cultural norms and beliefs. They had critical views of marriage. In their society, marrying a man was equivalent to being enslaved.
Yet, seeing the need for reproduction, they did not have qualms about sexual intercourse with men, understanding that it was for the purpose of maintaining their tribe. However, anything more than that was out of the question.
But problems and outliers would still come up. Certain historical sources claimed that Amazon women would often have intimate relationships with Scythian men. These relationships differed from the ones accepted in their society. You know, since they weren’t only for breeding purposes.
Promiscuity is another problem that comes up when talking about the reproduction and sexuality of Amazons. Greek myths usually depict them as promiscuous because of their ways. This is, again, because of how unusually their society functioned. Regardless of any problems that would come up, they always stuck to their ideas and norms. To the Amazons, maintaining their society was of utmost importance.
The Sons of Themyscira
Who were the sons of Themyscira? Isn’t Themyscira the city of Amazons, the mighty female warriors? Well, remember when we mentioned how Amazons dealt with male children? The sons of Themyscira were the male babies that the Amazons abandoned at birth.
The story of the sons of Themyscira is more explored in some of the volumes of the DC comic series Wonder Woman. According to the story, the Greek God Hephaestus makes a deal with the Amazons in order to spare the boys from their fate. In return for the boys, he forges weapons for the female warriors. Under his protection, the sons of Themyscira live together as blacksmiths.
Further into the story, the sons of Themyscira get killed by some of the Amazon warriors. In return, the warriors who participated in the massacre are sentenced to work for Hephaestus.
After this, Diana (Wonder Woman herself) and the other Amazons all have a mutual agreement. That is, from then on, male children would not be excluded from their society.
Does It Make a Conflict Between Men and Women?
It’s easy to come to the conclusion that the Amazons’ reproduction and ways of life created conflict. Namely, a conflict between men and women.
Greek mythology had its similarities with the realities of Greek society. After all, art imitates life. And well, mythology can be a form of artistic expression.
Greeks projected their ideas of society and culture onto their myths. One of these ideas was the role of women in society. The ruthless and conquering female warriors didn’t quite fit this idea.
That is why they’re often depicted negatively in these myths. They’re admired for their beauty and courage. But also condemned for opposing Greek ideals. Such as female gender roles, marriage, as well as typically female behavior. As we said, that didn’t really include going around, conquering lands, slaying men, and being promiscuous.
The depiction of Amazons in mythology was a way to show an antithesis of a Greek woman. Perhaps it was a propaganda tool. Possibly a critique of the ‘wrong’ kind of woman. A cautionary tale. Or maybe they really did come into contact with Hittite female warriors and used them as inspiration.
Whatever it was, it shows a conflict between men and women. A sort of disagreement that has been going on for a while. So, perhaps this entire myth is a byproduct of such a dispute.