Multicultural Spotlight:
Amazing Amazons
By Mariah Halloran


The Olympian Argos has traveled to the mouth of the river Themiscyra in Pontus and then to Thrace to catch up with Penthesileia, Queen of the Amazons, as she prepares to join King Priam of Troy in his battle against King Agamemnon and the Spartans over the lovely Helen. In an exclusive interview, Penthesileia talks openly about men, her family, the tragic accident that befell her sister, and her upcoming journey to Troy. This question and answer session is sure to make you see her and her people in a whole new light.

OA: Itís so exciting to be talking with the famous Queen of the Amazons. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Penthesileia: "No mortal man begat me, but Ares, the Lord of War, insatiate of the battle-cry. Therefore my might is more than any man's."(1) My name means "Compelling Men to Mourn," and that is just what they will do on the battlefield in my presence! I do not see a difference in women and men, in our limbs, or what we breathe and eat, and we are just as strong.

OA: And what about your parents?

Penthesileia: I am the daughter of Ares, God of War, who loves the Amazon people, and Otrera, a great Amazon Queen. Otrera founded the temple of Diana at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Ares bestowed his war-belt to my sister Hyppolyte, but it was taken by that foul hero, Heracles. He captured my sister Antiope, whom he then gave to Theseus. She bore Theseus a son, Hyppolytus, but then he murdered her because of an oracle of Apollo. My sister Melanippe was also captured, and sent with some others of our tribe by ship to become enslaved in Greece. Thank Ares, she was able to mutiny on the ship and slaughter the vile Greeks, but as we have no knowledge of sailing the sea, their ship was left adrift on the ocean and finally washed upon the shores of Scythia. Melanippe now has two sons, Aeolus and Boeotus by Neptune, and they seem to be quite happy now.

OA: Of course, all that business with Heracles happened before the accident. It has received so much publicity, but this is your opportunity to set the record straight about what really went on that day.

Penthesileia: My dear sister Hyppolyte and I went for a hunt in the wooded areas around Thrace as we often did together. I believe the gods must have tricked me that day, for my shot was perfectly aimed at a great stag in a small clearing in the woods, but as soon as the spear left my hand, I saw instead my sister waiting to receive it. The goddess Artemis, whom we worship, did not protect her that day. I did not think I could live with myself after such an act, but good King Priam purified me and I am forever in his debt.

OA: This brings up your upcoming trip to Troy. Are you excited to be going there and seeing King Priam again?

Penthesileia: I am honored that I can be of service so soon to King Priam. I shall travel with twelve of my fiercest companions: Clonie, Polemusa, Derinoe, Evandre, and Antandre, and Bremusa, Hippothoe, dark-eyed Harmothoe, Alcibie, Derimacheia, Antibrote, and Thermodosa. We shall liberate Troy and massacre the Greeks as they flee to their homeland in terror and shame.

OA: Arenít you nervous about confronting the great fighter Achilles, son of the sea-nymph Thetis and mortal Peleus?

Penthesileia: I eagerly await the opportunity to meet this great Achilles in battle, and best him just as I will all the invading Greeks. I hear he dressed as a girl in Lycomedesí court, so perhaps he learned a thing or two there.

OA: I canít help but notice that you look pretty symmetrical. Are all the stories about Amazons altering themselves for archery true?

Penthesileia: You should not believe everything you hear. We can do battle just as we are made. Any woman can, with the proper training. Indeed, it is the men who should have concern in our land Ė have you not heard of Queen Dlasta? A cruel ruler among us, she had the right eye and thumbs removed from every man so that they will be incapable of doing battle. Things did not go well under her rule, but we are at our full force once again.

OA: Speaking of men, what are the men like where you are from?

Penthesileia: We have no need of men in our daily lives. For child-bearing, there are men in the surrounding villages that can always be enticed into the woods, and there are those that we capture in battle. Those that are handsome and strong are allowed to live to serve our needs. Of course, we prefer to mate with the gods, and Ares visits us often.

OA: Donít any of the women have male children?

Penthesileia: It is a disgrace when they do, but if the child is born healthy and strong, he is kept for future service. If he is not found fit, he is given to Hades. This way we can maintain the great reign of women without the insidiousness of men.

OA: So tell us Ė is there a special man in your life?

Penthesileia: No, I do not have any children and am putting it off until after this war in Troy. Maybe I shall make Achilles my prisoner and mate with him to produce the next generation of great Amazons!

OA: All the best of luck to you, and we will be watching to see how everything works out with Achilles. Best of luck to you.


Sources

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 1.762

Ruffell, Julie. "Brave Women Warriors of Greek Myth: An Amazon Roster." ©1997 http://www.whoosh.org/issue12/ruffel3.html

Leadbetter, Ron. "Amazons." Encylcopedia Mythica. www.pantheon.org

Hyginus, Fabulae 200-277, translated by Mary Grant


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