Amazons were a varied and complex component of Athenian art and literature. In this passage, Pausanias describes the tomb of the mythical Amazon warrior Hippolyte, who dies of a broken heart when she loses her sister, Antiope.
ὅτε Ἀμαζόνες ἐπ᾽ Ἀθηναίους στρατεύσασαι δι᾽ Ἀντιόπην ἐκρατήθησαν ὑπὸ Θησέως, τὰς μὲν πολλὰς συνέβη μαχομένας αὐτῶν ἀποθανεῖν, Ἱππολύτην δὲ ἀδελφὴν οὖσαν Ἀντιόπης καὶ τότε ἡγουμένην τῶν γυναικῶν ἀποφυγεῖν σὺν ὀλίγαις ἐς Μέγαρα, ἅτε δὲ κακῶς οὕτω πράξασαν τῷ στρατῷ τοῖς τε παροῦσιν ἀθύμως ἔχουσαν καὶ περὶ τῆς οἴκαδε ἐς τὴν Θεμίσκυραν σωτηρίας μᾶλλον ἔτι ἀποροῦσαν ὑπὸ λύπης τελευτῆσαι: καὶ θάψαι αὐτὴν ἀποθανοῦσαν, καί οἱ τοῦ μνήματος σχῆμά ἐστιν Ἀμαζονικῇ ἀσπίδι ἐμφερές
Prope est Hippolytae monumentum, de qua quae Megarenses dicunt, non praetermittam. Quum Amazones ob captam Antiopen bello Athenienses lacessissent, a Theseo superatae sunt. Quumque earum multae in proelio cecidissent, Hippolyten tradunt, Antiopes sororem, cui feminarum ille parebat exercitus, Megara cum paucis aufugisse: ibi quum re mala gesta animum despondisset, praesertim quod se Themiscyram in patriam suam redire posse desperasset, prae animi angore e vita excessisse: sepultam vero eo quo diximus loco, et eius sane monumentum Amazonici clypei formam prae se fert.
--Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.41.7; Translated into Latin by Romulus Amasaeus (1696)
Near the monument to Pandion is the monument to Hippolyta; let me tell you about what the Megarians say about it. When the Amazons attacked Athens to avenge the kidnapped Antiope, they were defeated by Theseus. Many of the Amazons died in battle, but Hippolyte, the sister of Antiope and the Amazons’ general, retreated to Megara with the few remaining survivors. Upset by the defeat in battle, and despairing that that she would never return home to Themiscyra again, she died of grief. When she died, the Megarians buried her and made her tomb in the shape of an Amazon shield.
Date: 110 – 180 CE
Works: Description of Greece
Pausanias was a Greek writer who lived during the era of the “Five Good Emperors.” His work, the Description of Greece, is an important source for geographical, historical, archaeological, and cultural information about ancient Greece.