Amazon The Histories Summary

Decent Essays

The mythical tribe of warrior women known as Amazons had a prominent presence in the mythic world of Ancient Greece. They are often depicted in ancient literature, such as in Herodotus’ The Histories, or on many artistic vessels recovered from the centuries between 800 B.C.E and 500 B.C.E. Most people envision the Amazons as the female fighters who defied the role of women as inferior figures in Ancient Greek society. What, then, does it say about Ancient Greece that the Amazons were portrayed as manly figures and done so approvingly? I argue that because warfare was so strongly associated with honor in Ancient Greek society and men engaged in the fighting, the Amazons were respected for their noble ability to fight and thus associated more with men than women.
In Herodotus’ book The Histories, he includes information about various cultures in order to give a rich background on all aspects of Ancient Greek society. According to French historian Francois Hartog, when narrators present a culture that is not their own, “a rhetoric of otherness may be developed” (Hartog, The Mirror of Herodotus, 212). Thus, in terms of Herodotus’ mention of the Amazons in The Histories, they are first described in terms of their relationship with Greek culture. For example, in his description of the war between the Greeks and the Amazons, he notes that after the Amazon’s raided the Greek ships and killed the men “[The Amazons] did not know anything about ships or how to use the rudders, sails,

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