The general history of the Amazonians is hard to determine as they are a mythological people and the myths, and their interpretations, are different. Our main sources on the “history” of the Amazons come from Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Strabo. Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian that lived between 484 – 425BCE. Diodorus was an ancient Greek historian that lived in the 1st century BCE. Strabo was an ancient Greek geographer that lived between 63BCE and 24CE. Here is what all their histories and recordings of the Amazonians have in common:
Earliest Beginnings and Queen Myrina the Great
A water nymph by the name of Harmonia was seduced by Ares, the God of War, and gave birth to many daughters. A nymph (Greek: νύμφη) is a minor female nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from goddesses, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing. Harmonia was the water nymph of the Thermodon River (Greek: Θερμώδων) which is now known as the Terme River and is located in northern Turkey along the southern shore of the Black Sea. Her daughters became known as the “Daughters of Ares” and they became ferocious and beautiful women as well as deadly warriors. A woman fighting was considered strange by men, and a whole group of women fighting was even stranger. The Iranian word ha-mazan, meaning “fighting together” or “making war,” was used to describe them. The nearby Greeks in Asia Minor changed the word to “amazon,” and the warrior women became known as the Amazons or Amazonians (Greek: Aμαζóvες).
The Amazonians formed a tribe that lived along the Thermodon River sometime in the 1700sBCE and named the area they lived in “Amazonia.” An Amazon by the name of Otrera became the first Queen of the Amazons. She led her fellow warriors against nearby tribes to kill all the men and integrate the women into their tribe. Eventually the Amazonians realized that in time this would no longer work and they would die out. They would need to procreate if their culture and way of life was to continue. Queen Otrera and her fellow Amazons discovered to the east, in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, an all-male tribe called the Gargareans (Greek: Γαργαρείς). They were a relatively peaceful tribe and the Amazons forced them to agree to a pact. The treaty between the two tribes created a festival where the Amazonians and the Gargareans would have sex and then the Amazons would go home and give birth. They kept the daughters while depositing the boys on their eastern border for the Gargareans to retrieve.
The Amazons expanded north along the eastern shore of the Black Sea, which was known as the Euxeinos Pontos (Hospitable Sea) in ancient times, toward the Sea of Azov, which was known as Lake Maeotis in ancient times, throughout the 1600sBCE. A long river flowed from the north into Lake Maeotis and was named the Amazonius River by the warrior women who discovered it.
The next Amazon queen of note, Queen Lysippe, founded the city of Themiskyra (Greek: Θεμίσκυρα) along the banks of the Thermodon River in Anatolia to be the capital of Amazonia. She fell in love with a Greek man by the name of Berossos and gave birth to a son named Tanais. Her son only venerated Ares and was fully devoted to war, neglecting love and marriage. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, cursed him by having him fall in love with his own mother. Preferring to die rather than give up his chastity, he threw himself into the river Amazonius, which was subsequently renamed Tanais. Tanais River is known today as the Don River in Russia. Queen Lysippe is also credited with introducing the cult of Artemis, the virgin Goddess of Hunting, into the Amazonian pantheon. She died a heroic death in a battle against an unknown tribe, saving the Amazon nation.
A cruel tyrant named Valaska, or Dlasta, became queen of the Amazonians some time after Lysippe died. She had strict policies on maintaining control over the men in the tribes the women conquered. Men would be mutilated in the form of having their right eye gouged out and thumbs chopped off. This was to prevent them from being able to fight and posing any kind of threat to their Amazon rulers. Valaska was also unpopular among the warrior women as she ruled with an iron fist. She wanted to start a new era for the Amazons and she was cruel in her haste, having only a small cult of willing followers. It was not until she died that, “the nation resumed its normal order,” according to Herodotus. The Amazons were therefore quite happy when she died.
A short while later, the greatest queen of all Amazonian history arose. She was named Myrina, and became queen in around 1560BCE. She was a great strategist, shrewd tactician, and a fierce warrior. She subjugated all of Anatolia and also the Aegean Islands before launching an expedition to Africa with her tens of thousands of warriors. She forced the Minoans of the island of Crete to provide numerous ships to transport her army. Queen Myrina the Great sailed to the Libyan coast and besieged the last prominent Atlantian colony in Africa known as Cerne.
Atlantis (Greek: Ἀτλαντὶς), which is Greek for the “Island of Atlas,” was a sub-continent located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean a few hundred kilometers west of the Pillars of Hercules, which is known today as the Strait of Gibraltar. The Atlantians were skilled sailors and marines and built a huge empire in the 8000sBCE. They had long life spans and superior technology and established many colonies along the coasts of Africa and the Americas. Then the great island was completely destroyed in one day by flood, fire, and earthquakes. Some of the Atlantians’ colonies along the Mediterranean Sea survived as they were not destroyed by the tsunamis that ravaged the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Myrina and her Amazons were successful in storming the walls of Cerne and slaying the Atlantians. The warrior women sacked the city and the power and splendor of Atlantis’ culture became but a memory. She then marched east into Cyrenaica which at that time was inhabited by the terrible creatures known as Gorgons.
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