AMAZONS at the Moonspeaker
Peisinoe 'she who persuades the mind'
Leukosia 'White Goddess'
Himeropa 'face that wakens (the Sun)'
An island opposite the Gulf of Paestum was named for Leukosia, and Parthenope was particularly associated with Naples, a city that began as the Greek colony of Neapolis.
The Sun Goddess Cyrene was said to have a crystal palace beneath the sea, where she was attended by archer nymphs. In this case they may have been called Acheloides 'those who drive away grief,' a lesser known name for the Sirens. They may also be synonymous with the mysterious Telessae 'workers from afar,' a group of Cyrenian Goddesses.
DORIS 'bountiful, gift'
Named for the Great Goddess of the Dorians, which suggests that she was an immigrant. She was a spear wielder in the Attic War.
Her name may be a shortened form of Egeria (not a Latin name), a pre-Roman Goddess of Latium. Egee herself was a Libyan Amazon queen who led an army through Libya and Asia Minor to fight at Troy. Her tribe may correspond to the mysterious Skiapodes 'shadow footed,' a name that suggests silent footed hunters and warriors. After killing the city's king, she and her army returned home. The incident seems to be the first of many battles brought about by repeated attempts at take over by patriarchal forces. Since she didn't stay or leave a garrison, the priestess-queen of the city may have called upon Amazon aid as Hekuba of Troy would later. Since all Goddess-centred cultures were coming under direct siege at this time, and the Amazon Nation was itself a confederation Troy probably belonged to, it is no surprise that the Amazons would provide assistance when asked.
EUMACHE 'excellent fighter'
This warrior of the Attic War fought with a stone after using up her arrows, an act later plagiarized into the Greek tale of Herakles fighting over the stolen cattle of Geryon.
EUOPE 'having a beautiful face'
An Amazon spear wielder, she often wore a Greek style helmet and body armour. Her shield was white, marked with a curious five lobed sigil.
Daughter of an Amazon queen and wielder of the labrys.
EURYPYLE 'of the broad gate'
Priestess of Artemis, probably in her psychopompe aspect.
Amazon named for a Goddess of Lesbos.
HEKAMEDE 'far ranging wisdom'
Amazon Goddess of the island of Tenedos.
HIERA 'holy one' or 'holy queen'
The Amazon queen of Mysia and general of its army at the time of the Trojan war. Like Penthesilea she fought for the besieged city. Her expedition drove off the first Greek attack on Troy.
Queen of Amazonia with Marpesia 'the snatcher,' and Lampedo 'burning torch.' Her sister Molpia 'melody' was a priestess of Hanged Artemis.
Hippo and her fellow queens moved across Asia Minor to the Aegean Sea, where they founded Ephesus, Smyrna, and Myrine. They were met by a hostile Trojan army (suggesting Troy had left the Nation for a time), which they defeated, signing a treaty with the city. It is their establishment of Ephesus that is most well known, where they set up a shrine to Artemis in the forest beneath a beech tree. The tree was a sign from the Goddess, since beech trees do not typically grow so far south.
Another Hippo lived in Leuktra and was deified after her death as a Hanged Artemis-like figure. A constellation was also named Hippo, for a Centaur Goddess in this case.
HIPPOLYTA 'of the stampeding horses' or 'she who releases the horses'
The dynastic title of a series of Thermodontine queens. The one usually remembered for her belt was daughter of Otrere, and she was actually named for a Sea Goddess called Neptunis in Latin, or Nereis in Greek. Hippolyta's birth name suggests that she may even have been a priestess of Artemis, since the name was also numbered among Artemis' titles. The belt sent to Admete, a priestess of Hera at Argos was a good will gesture. (Clarification of this point is in Part Two.)
Dorian pirates coveted what they perceived as Amazon riches and despised their personal freedom. The queen's belt was considered a representation of her personal sovereignty and her role as queen of the Amazons. Accordingly, the Second Doric Raid was carried out with the purpose of rape and pillage, with the belt taken as proof of victory. The raid failed due to the intervention of Hera (bearing in mind that good fortune is interpreted as divine help in ancient times as much as modern ones) who warned the Amazons in the nick of time, although Hippolyta was killed. The Dorians so feared her ghost that they built a heraeum for her at Megaera, and made expiatory pilgrimages to it until Classical times. Later propagandists rewrote the story and claimed that their new hero Herakles had stolen the belt, a task given to him as part of his penance for murdering his family. A curious idea, since the same tales say that Herakles was driven mad by Hera, and killed his family in his frenzy, which suggests that some writers had attempted to exonerate him entirely.
The belt 'stolen' by Herakles then becomes lost to both Greek mythology and hisory, although the belt sent by Hippolyta was long displayed in the Argive temple of Hera, its story suitably altered by the priests who had forcibly taken it over. The honour guard of Hippolyta Nereis' reign included:
Aello 'whirlwind' castellan of Themiskyra
Ainippe 'swift horse'
Alkippe 'strength of horses'
Asteria 'of the starry sky'
Deianeira 'stringer together of spoils'
Erioboea 'rich in cattle'
Phillipis 'lover of horses'
Prothoë 'first in might'
Tekmessa 'she who ordains' Phrygian immigrant
At least two other Hipplytas were especially famous: Hippolyta Glauke and Hippolyta daughter of Zerinthyia.
HIPPOTHOE 'nimble horse'
Fought with Penthesilea's troupe at Troy and survived to found an Amazon colony on one of the Echinade islands.
HYPSIPYLE 'of the high gate'
Her name refers to the meridian, the Sun at its highest point in the sky. An Amazon warrior of this name fought with Pantariste. Another was daughter of a Myrine and member of the Lemnian high council. She was captured by Thrakian pirates during a sea battle, and after her escape became high priestess of Artemis at the Nemean Grove.
IONOS 'travelling Moon'
A heroine who may have been born in Dodona, Ionos was a great athlete. Starting from Epeirus, she swam across the sea to the coast of Italy, a distance of roughly 90 kilometres.
KALLIE 'the beautiful'
Another Amazon spear wielder who wore Greek style armour and helmet, bearing a white shield marked with a black bird.
She, Eurybia 'wide ranging force' and Phoebe 'bright Moon' hunted and fought together. As hunters they were always successful, while in battle they formed a deadly wedge of spears.
KLEIODAEIS 'famous warrior'
Helped defend the colony of Lemnos from Greek pirates.
KLEITE/KLETA 'famous,' 'the invoked,' 'divine, Goddess-like'
The first Kleite was queen of Kyzikus, a prophet who was assisted by her sister Arisbe 'forceful warrior.' The second was the mother of Penthesilea. Blown off course on the way to Troy, she arrived only to find the city razed, her daughter killed by treachery. She and her compliment of Amazons then set sail again for the Southern Coast of Italy, where they founded a city called by her name. The tribe came to be known as the Kleitae.
KLEITO 'the invoked'
Priestess of Athena, daughter of Leukippe 'white horse,' who lived on the sacred island at the centre of the Libyan homeland of Tritonis. An interesting description, because it is unclear whether this means an island at the centre of lake Tritonis, or an island in the middle of a volcanic crater on Tritonia before its destruction.
KLYMENE 'famous might'
Daughter of the sea Goddess Tethys and participant in the Attic War.
She, Priene 'queen who cuts,' and Pitana 'pine mother' helped lead the evacuation from the devastated Gorgon island of Tritonia. Their leader was Mitylene 'hornless one,' sister of one of the famous Myrines. The continued movement of the Gorgons was forced by their numbers and tensions with their mainland sisters.
The Gorgon resettlement was not completely peaceful, due to the understandable alarm of people who had recently experienced the sudden arrival of patriarchal tribes, and the increased war activity of the newly united Egyptian state, which had already forced a Libyan migration.
Kyme and her sister 'generals' founded cities named for themselves, and coins from the city of Kyme still exist, clearly stamped with her image. She may also have been the ancestor of the Kimmeroi, a people who lived around Palus Maeotis, a onetime stronghold of both the Libyan and Thermodontine Amazons. That they were Amazons becomes clear from how they were mythologized, as a race that lived in perpetual darkness. That is, they refused to worship the Greek sun god Apollo or his later replacement, Herakles. Similar descriptions of alien peoples were once commonly used by christian missionaries, who referred to them as 'living beyond the light of the lord.'
Yet another Kyme travelled to Latium, where she founded the sacred Etruscan city of Kumae. The famed sibyl of Kumae remained influential until late Roman times, and her rediscoverd cave-shrine today inspires religious awe in visitors in a manner similar to the oracular cave at Delphi.
LAMPEDO 'burning torch'
One of the generals who helped establish Ephesus. Her name refers to the traditional New Moon torchlit processions in honour of Artemis.
LYSIPPE 'she who lets loose the horses'
Initially ruler of territory North of the Black Sea, after a natural disaster she moved her people to the Thermodon plain. She is also considered founder of the worship of Artemis Tauropolos. The Greeks said the queen was devastated when her son committed suicide, so she turned her energies to consolidating and expanding the Amazon Nation. A sad and pretty story, based on a mistaken etymology, as a number of beliefs about the Amazons were. The river Tanais, supposedly named for Lysippe's son because he drowned himself in it, is in fact named for an Anatolian Light Goddess who was later absorbed into Artemis – or was Artemis to begin with, it isn't clear which – the same Goddess usually called Danu, Dana, Don, or Danae.
Lysippe built Themiskyra 'Divine Themis, Divine Order' and its great temple of Themis-Artemis, then recodified Northern Amazon law. Also an ingenious strategist and general, she led the first cavalry unit. Her strategy and judgment of character were so sound that Marpesia and her other generals completed it successfully after her death.
MARPESIA 'the snatcher'
Ruler with Hippo 'horse,' and Lampedo 'burning torch' after the death of Lysippe, she founded a great city in the Kaukasus Mountains near the Caspian Gate, by what was called the Marpesian Cliff. She helped extend Amazon influence to Europe, Asia, Thrake, Syria, and greater Asia Minor. She was succeeded by her daughter Synope after Marpesia was killed in battle with Asian invaders.
MELANIPPE 'black horse' aka Menanippe 'Moon horse' or 'horse of wisdom'
Sister of Hippolyta, she was captured during the Second Doric Raid. She led a successful mutiny to free herself and her fellow captives. They landed at Scythia where many of the other captives stayed to found a new city, while she returned to participate in the Attic War.
METHYMNA 'intoxicating song'
Deified founder of a city on Lesbos.
MITYLENE 'hornless one'
Sister of the second famous Myrine who helped her settle Lesbos. Myrine named the colony's capital after her in gratitude for her assistance. The city was later best known for being the residence of the Lesbian poet Sappho, a priestess of Aphrodite who was one of the few remaining representatives of pre-patriarchal culture in her time.
MOLPADIA 'death song'
A participant in the Attic War, she saw her queen Antiope fall, injured so seriously she could not defend herself from Theseus and his retainers. She killed the queen with an arrow, saving Antiope from violation by the Athenian king, because it was once common practice for male warriors to rape women as they died, believing this would prevent their ghosts from haunting them. In general, Amazons never left behind their dead or wounded, in order to prevent them from being violated before or after death and to ensure they were buried in the earth of their homeland. Like many other Amazons, Molpadia may have been named for a Goddess, in this case a psychopompe deity. Her alternate name was Hemithea, 'Half Goddess.' The Athenians built both Molpadia and Antiope monuments within their city walls, and these stoneworks were still intact in the late second century CE when Pausanias viewed them for himself.
MYRINE 'swiftly bounding'
The deeds attributed to Myrine are truly of mythic proportions. Queen of the North African Gorgons, she succeeded in raising an army of 33 000, 30 000 of which were cavalry, and conquer a stupendous amount of territory, including Atlantis. Depending who is writing, she was a kind conqueror, or an incredibly vicious one, acting more like a butcher than an Amazon. Her story was still in the process of revision when these versions were written down.
Considering how difficult it was for most early cities to reach 10 000 people in size, even assuming Myrine collected vast numbers of allies or conscripts, the numbers seem too large. The story reads like a telescoped, confused explanation of how the Amazon Nation came to be so vast. The Nation was of considerable size, but what the Greeks knew of it was created and administered mainly in a time when societal norms were changing. Information on it derives from biassed sources who considered large groups of allied people impossible without warfare. Considering the Northern Amazon Nation existed as a political power for over 400 years and only ceased to be one after two centuries of concerted pressure from patriarchal forces, and the inability of war based empires to last even 100 years, fighting has too strong a role in these stories.
Some of the first African Amazon tribes lived on an island off the vast Northern coast of the continent, alternately called Tritonia or Hespera by later authors. The island was probably called Tritonia 'place of three queens,' giving the inland sea Lake Tritonis its name later. Others lived in a territory including the vast Atlas Mountain range. Unfortunately for the island Amazons who worshipped the Moon and Sea Goddess Sipylene 'the Mother,' Tritonia was a volcanic island. In a cataclysm that would be repeated at Thera near Krete, the island was destroyed, leaving behind only the present day Canary Islands.
The memories of the first Amazon homeland reverberated long afterwards among the Greeks as well as the Amazons. Tritonia became synonymous with Hera's apple orchards, the Land of the Blessed. The Canary islands were once best known for their fine climate and plentiful food sources, rather than a now extinct species of dog and a type of small songbird. So there was a core of truth in the later descriptions of Tritonia.
The Tritonians were driven to the mainland. However, life was difficult in and around the Atlas Mountains. The Sun beat down mercilessly, and it was necessary to contend with the desert. The sea-loving Tritonians soon came into conflict with the Gorgons, worshippers of Athena the Sun Goddess. Such a huge number of refugees of a different culture although similar philosophy could not be absorbed easily.
After some fighting, the first Myrine led her people further east, to the region around Lake Tritonis. The name 'Myrine' became a title taken by each queen in honour of her role in resettling her people and repairing relations with the Gorgons. Her efforts on the latter were so successful that the two tribes eventually united, much to the confusion of outsiders later, leading to the garbled tale of the invasion of Atlantis. This Myrine may have been named for a great Sun Goddess of Asia Minor related to Artemis of Ephesus, and the meaning of her name is nearly equivalent to that of Otrere 'nimble.' Centuries later, the people of Lemnos would claim blood ties to this famous Amazon leader.
The next Myrine of great influence had to deal directly with united Egypt. Its armies forced a Libyan migration leading to conflict between the Amazons and the fleeing tribes. Myrine was more than successful, turning her army from defense to offense and taking control of Syria, Egypt, Phrygia, and other Mediterranean lands. After some years holding that territory, renewed fighting forced them to withdraw from most of it, except Phrygia and some small areas around the Mediterranean. The resurgence of unified Egypt forced a second migration, in which Amazons and other tribes sailed on to Krete and Kyprus. It became clear that taking over other nations was not a successful tactic for increasing the Amazon Nation or maintaining it.
Unlike most others, since the Amazon Nation consisted solely of women, any strategy that ended numerous lives to no purpose had to be abandoned by necessity, even without the difference in mindset between Goddess worshipping and god worshipping cultures. So by philosophy and practicality, a conquistadora strategy never became enshrined in Amazon culture. The Myrine who helped found Ephesus was a great warrior and general, but more importantly she was an excellent diplomat. Her numerous 'foot and cavalry' were not raised solely from Libyan Amazonia, if such numbers could have been raised. Rather than going out to conquer, she sent out numerous riders and messengers to search out like minded tribes of women, with overtures to confederation.
The tactic was enormously successful. By the end of its expansionary usage, the Taurian Sea, the Black Sea, and the Kaukus river formed the boundaries of the Amazon Nation in Europe and Asia Minor. Numerous Goddess worshipping tribes that were not Amazon became allies in order to gain support against the growing numbers of hostile tribes coming from the North, as well as local tribes that were turning to more hierarchical, static religions that reflected changes in their social mores. Myrine went on to found a city in Aeolis named for herself, and Smyrna14 in Lydia, also named for herself, and to see the Amazon Nation build a reputation for liberating oppressed peoples.
During one of her many sea journeys she was caught in a storm. She sacrificed to Sipylene, long afterward considered a protector of sailors caught on rough seas, and made it to shore. Myrine died fighting Scythian and Thrakian tribes that felt threatened by the increased power of the Amazons. Her tomb, called Bateia 'thorn hill' was near Troy, a later barometer for the strength of patriarchal forces. Myrine was deified by Greeks and Amazons alike, for later 'Bateia' was the name of a warlike minor Goddess, and in Asia Minor the great Sun Goddess Myrine was revered alongside Ephesia. Mary Daly has noted that the gesture of blessing used by her worshippers has since been co-opted by the Catholic church: pointing or signing over a person with the the thumb and next two fingers raised and the ring and little finger folded against the palm.
The next Myrine, daughter of Oritheia, was forced to fight followers of 'Dionysus' for control of Ephesus. Besides being an important crossroads, it was of such religious importance that control of it was considered a source of Amazon strength. Myrine's army was fronted by her Gorgons in snakeskin armour, armed with bows which they drew past their chests and could fire rapidly while riding their horses at full gallop.
Gathering allies as she moved North, her huge army, including a significant mounted component, struck the Greek stronghold of Olympus. Breaking its power at least temporarily, memory of this army remained, multiplying in numbers and ferocity as time passed. Much of this army, like others before it, consisted of women past childbearing age. Later encounters with increasing numbers of Greek soldiers forced younger women to fight on a regular basis, leading to the eventual tales of the beautiful Gorgons, protected by their crone sisters, the Graea.
Later the Thermodontine Amazons reunited the numerous tribes and cities of women who worshipped mainly Athena, Artemis, and Cybele, and recreated alliances with other Goddess-worshipping tribes. Artemis was the main embodiment of feminine power in the Northern areas of the Amazon Nation, and never ceased to be associated with it. Athena suffered cruel transformations at the hands of the newly powerful Greek warlords, who made her white and a cruel foe to women.
The Myrines mentioned here:
Leader of the Tritonian migration.
Temporary conqueror of Egypt.
Founder of Ephesus.
Daughter of Oritheia.
MYRTO 'Sea Goddess'
Named in honour of Aphrodite, whose signature tree was the myrtle, this Amazon warrior was mother of Autolykus, who was later conveniently stripped of his Amazon associations. Her son appears to be a trickster figure, similar to animal figures such as Renaud the fox.
NYKTIMENE 'night wisdom, the Moon at night'
A deified queen of Lesbos whose totem was the owl. Lesbos seems to have had a large number of city founders and queens who were deified, possibly because so many of them are known, or because a hybrid ancestor-nonfamilial deity worship had developed there.
ORITHEIA 'Goddess of the Mountain'
Daughter of Marpesia, who named her for the Libyan Creation Goddess, she led the Attic War to free her fellow Amazon queen, Antiope. Learning that a significant number of Scythian and Thrakian slaves were in Athens, with a portion of the former kept as a personal guard for the Athenian king and a general police force for the city, Oritheia saw a great opportunity. Gathering her Scythian and Thrakian allies, she sent two sets of diplomatic envoys. One to ensure Lakonia did not assist Athens, which was no great problem, and a more subtle group to contact Scythian and Thrakian slave leaders to see what the odds were of gaining their assistance in return for freedom.
In a feat more impressive than Hannibal's, Oritheia led her army across the frozen Kimmerian Bosporus, over the Danube, then through Thrake, Thessaly, and Boeotia. Finally she besieged Athens, which collapsed between her army and the slave revolt it suffered within.
Oritheia had no intentions of staying, however. After completing a treaty with the chastened Athenians and building a tomb for Antiope, who had died during the fighting, she and her army left, taking a considerable number of newly freed slaves with them.
Unfortunately, Oritheia had suffered serious injuries, and succumbed to infection on the way home. Her fate was shared by other Amazons, whose remains were carried back to the Nation by their comrades. Greek tales tend to claim that the fallen Amazons were buried along the army's route home, especially at its beginnings along the main road to Athens. However, this contradicts the practice of reclaiming the dead after a battle which was common to a wide range of peoples in this period. Athenians were often buried along that road because it was considered sacrilegious to bury the dead within the city. It seems more likely then that the 'Amazon' graves along the road to Athens in fact belonged to hapless Athenians whose names had been forgotten by later storytellers, allowing their graves to be attributed to others.
The names of other Amazons who participated in the Attic War include:
Amynome 'blameless defender'
Androdameia 'tamer of men'
Antianara 'against the sea'
Antimache 'warrior of the opposition'
Antiope 'confronting Moon' (not the queen) archer
Aristomache 'best of warriors'
Charope 'brilliant confrontation'
Deinomache 'terrible warrior'
Doris 'bountiful' spearwielder
Echephyle 'chief defender' used an unusual wicker shield
Eumache 'good warrior'
Euryleia 'wide wandering'
Hippomache 'horse warrior'
Kleoptoleme 'famous warrior'
Klymene 'famous might'
Laodoke 'good for the people'
Melousa 'gentle one'
Mimnousa 'strong one'
Molpadia 'death song'
Okyale 'swift moving' archer
Pyrgomache 'fiery warrior'
Xanthippe 'yellow horse' sabrer
OTRERE 'the nimble'
Builder of the great temple of Artemis and its attendant bird sanctuary on Aretias, an island on the Black Sea that is still the site of annual women-only rituals. She was deified after her death.
PANDAEA 'all knowing'
Priestess of Artemis.
PANTARISTE 'best of all'
Scythian Amazon who led an attack on Greek pirate captains during the Second Doric Raid. She pursued two Greeks going to warn their compatriots armed with her spear and shield, the latter of which was emblazoned with a white sphinx. Throwing her spear at one Greek so hard that she pinned him to the ground and couldn't get it loose, she killed the other with her bare hands. Some sources record that her lover's name was Thraso.
PENTHESILEA 'compelling men to mourn'
Daughter of Kleite or Oritheia, ruler of the Thermodontine Amazons with her sisters Hippolyta and Antianeira, who eventually succeeded her. She had Thrakian roots, and this along with a call for help from the besieged queen of Troy convinced her to lead a small force to the city's aid.
In any case, the next battle led to Troy's defeat. Penthesilea was killed by treachery, stabbed in the back by one of the infamous priests of Apollo who had betrayed the city. Again contrary to popular belief, Penthesilea was not part of a last flair of greatness from a dying Nation. Homeric Troy fell around 1200 BCE, a full six centuries before the actual political demise of the Northern Amazon Nation. What she probably does represent is the beginning of the retreat of Goddess worshipping peoples in Asia Minor in the face of continuing violence from invaders.
Penthesilea's elite group:
Alkibia 'force of might'
Andro 'courageous woman' participated in the final battle for the city
Antandre 'equal in bravery'
Antibrote 'gory opposition'
Bremusa 'raging woman' participated in the final battle for the city
Derimachea 'wearing leather armour'
Harmothoe 'sharp nail'
Hippothoe 'impetuous horse'
Klonie 'young shoot'
Thermodosa 'heated one'
Derinoe 'tough minded'
Androdaira/Androdaixa 'subduer of men'
PLEIADES 'sailing ones' or 'flock of doves'
The usual seven Pleiades are in fact daughters of Aphrodite as Dove Goddess, with only Taygete 'long cheeked or faced' (the term probably refers originally to a species of deer) generally recognized as an Amazon. Curiously, Taygete was also an alternate name for the Great Mother of Sparta. The Amazon version of the Pleiades were daughters of a queen or perhaps a priestess. They created choral dances and night festivals in honour of Artemis. Yet another group is suggested by occasional claims that the Harpy Kelaeno was actually a Pleiade herself.
Glaukia 'grey green'
Kokkymo 'curling wave'
Stonychia 'barb, sharp point'
SAGARITIS 'single edged ax or sword'
SYNOPE/SINOPE 'having a mischievous look'
Daughter of a second queen named Marpesia, foster daughter of Aegina, she founded a city named for herself on the shores of the Black Sea. She drove off Greek invaders so successfully they maligned her for being warlike. They later mythologized her as an Amazon queen so desirable, the gods offered her anything she wanted in hopes of demanding her body in payment. Shrewd as her mother before her, Synope forced each god to swear by his own testicles to leave her alone.
THESEIS 'she who lays down'
What she lays down is the law, suggesting the name may have been a title of Themis the Lawgiver originally. The name also belongs to an obscure Amazon, sometimes claimed to be Antiope, but this is a late revision.
THETIS 'disposer, judge'
Name of an Amazon Queen and a High Priestess of Hera or Aphrodite.
TISIPHONE 'avenger of blood'
The person who convinced the women of Troy to join Penthesilea in fighting against the Greeks.
ZERYNTHIA 'she who is rich in game'
Like named follower of a Thrakian Goddess of the wild things, a Scythian Amazon.
ZEUXO 'she who joins, bridges'
An Amazon whose name is derived from that of the Cyrenian Sea Goddess Zeuxidia 'she who joins or bridges to the Goddess' or perhaps 'Goddess who joins or bridges.' Zeuxo was particularly famous for her equestrian feats and had three similarly famous daughters: Eukrateia 'true might,' Hermione 'pillar queen,' and Zeuxo.