The Fearsome Amazons of Greek Mythology

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Kelly Macquire
by and
published on 26 March 2023

In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a race of warlike women noted for their riding skills, courage, and pride, who lived at the outer limits of the known world, sometimes specifically mentioned as the city of Themiskyra on the Black Sea. Their queen was Hippolyte, and although Homer tells us they were 'the equal of men', they most famously fought and lost separate battles against three Greek heroes: Hercules, Theseus, and Bellerophon. Scenes from these battles were popular in Greek art, especially on pottery and in monumental sculpture adorning some of the most important buildings in the Greek world, including the Parthenon of Athens. Intriguingly, archaeological investigation of tombs across Eurasia has shown conclusively that many women of nomadic steppe tribes were indeed warriors, particularly around the Black Sea area.

The society of the Amazons was thought of as Greek male-society in reverse and so they pursued such traditional male-dominated activities as horse-riding, hunting, and warfare. In legend (with no supporting historical evidence), the Amazons burnt off their right breast in order to better use a bow and throw a spear, indeed, the term a-mazon was popularly understood as meaning 'breastless', although alternative meanings include 'one breast' or 'not breast-fed.' Another alternative origin of the name is that it comes from Persian and means simply 'warrior.' One final interpretation is that the name derives from the Armenian, meaning 'Moon-goddess', and refers to priestesses of the Moon on the southern shores of the Black Sea who did, on occasion, bear arms. Interestingly, Amazons are not depicted in ancient Greek art with a missing breast.



0:00​ Introduction
1:00 Who Are The Amazons?
3:30 Archaeological Evidence For Amazons
5:25 Amazons In Greek Mythology
9:00 Outro

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The Greek Myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur
The 12 Olympians: The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greek Mythology

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The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

World History Encyclopedia

#amazons #greekmythology #amazonwomen #Women's History Month

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2023, March 26). The Fearsome Amazons of Greek Mythology. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Fearsome Amazons of Greek Mythology." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified March 26, 2023.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Fearsome Amazons of Greek Mythology." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 26 Mar 2023. Web. 22 Jul 2024.