Monday, May 4, 2020

Challenging Gender Roles: the Mythical Amazons, Apollodorus Bibl.II.iv.9

Haec gens erat bello gerendo praestantissima, quippe quae viriliter fortuitudinem exercebant: ac si quando viris admistae peperissent, partus femineos educabant. Dextras ad haec mammas, ne iaculis emittendis impedimento forent, exterebant; laevas autem alendi filiorum gratia sucrescere patiebantur. 

αὕτη δὲ ἐβασίλευεν Ἀμαζόνων, αἳ κατῴκουν περὶ τὸν Θερμώδοντα ποταμόν, ἔθνος μέγα τὰ κατὰ πόλεμον: ἤσκουν γὰρ ἀνδρίαν, καὶ εἴ ποτε μιγεῖσαι γεννήσειαν, τὰ θήλεα ἔτρεφον, καὶ τοὺς μὲν δεξιοὺς μαστοὺς ἐξέθλιβον, ἵνα μὴ κωλύωνται ἀκοντίζειν, τοὺς δὲ ἀριστεροὺς εἴων, ἵνα τρέφοιεν. 

--Apollodorus, Bibliothekes II.iv.9,  translated into Latin by Thomas Gale (1675)

The Amazons excelled in waging war, and  trained in all of the "manly" arts. And if they conceived a child from their dalliances with men, they only raised their female offspring. They would remove their right breast so that it wouldn't interfere with their spear throwing ability, but left their left breast alone, so they could still be able to nurse their children.

SUGGESTED READING: This is an account of the mythical race of Amazons. For a detailed and factual analysis of the people who inspired this myth, I encourage you to read Adrienne Mayor's The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World. This book is targeted for an adult audience, so younger readers might find this book difficult to read.

Date:  1st – 2nd c. CE
Works:  Bibliotheca

Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans

 The Bibliotheca is a collection of Greek myths written between the 1st and 2nd century CE. Although originally thought to be written by the Athenian author Apollodorus (2nd c. BCE), it is now thought to be an epitome of a larger work written centuries later.
ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)