To what extent is Lyn Webster Wilde’s portrayal of Amazon women an accurate one as seen in On the Trail of the Women Warriors: The Amazons in Myth and History
Stories of beautiful, bloodthirsty Amazon warrior women storming across battlefields have been told and speculated over for thousands of years. The word Amazon comes from “a-“, without and “mazos”, breast, which came from a popular belief that the Amazon Warrior Women would remove their right breasts, too enable them to draw a bow. Ancient writers such as Homer, Aeschylus, and Hellanicus have described the women as warriors who fought ruthlessly, killed or mutilated male offspring, had promiscuous sex with anyone in order to get pregnant, and lived in a matriarchal society. They were perceived to be as beautiful as they were cruel. Lyn Webster Wilde author of On the trail of Warrior Women: The Amazons in Myth and History, is an English broadcaster with a degree in English literature from Cambridge. She first encountered the Amazon warrior women when she was working on a BBC programme called Revolting Women. It became her goal to discover the true sources of the Amazon myth, with an exploration into the ancient forms of female power. Discovering that truly being an Amazon was not so much about physical strength, but about inner strength. In essence it was not about fighting, but more so about bravery, skill, imagination, adaptability and humanity. Traits which Wilde says can be found in the ancient women from the Scythian , the goddess Inanna/Ishtar, and the story of Queen of Kanesh. It is these female’s that she deems worthy enough to be considered of having Amazon qualities.
The presentation of the Scythian women by Wilde, shows that they were strong, adaptable, and skilful, when it came to their everyday lives and customs. The Scythians were a group of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists, from ancient Iranian background, who lived over the vast area of modern day Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia, which was until medieval times known as Scythia. It is common belief that the Scythian woman were not allowed to marry until they had killed three enemies. Wilde portrays the woman within the Scythian community as strong, and equal to men when it comes to war. Evidence for this comes from her description of a woman found in 1884 by Bobrinsky, on the left bank of the River Tiasmin. This body has been reinvestigated by Professor Renate Rolle, an expert archaeologist in Scythian communities. The grave contained two bodies, the main burial was that of a woman and perpendicular to her feet laid a young male. Around her body lay accoutrements, many of them those which are classically associated with women – such as weaving and spinning tools, as well a mirror and glass beads – but she also possessed a bow, knives and spears. This warrior woman is obviously from some social standing, has been deemed important enough to have a male servant to accompany her on her death journey. It is known though that the graves which have been found are found intermingled with those of men, which proves that the women of Scythia did not live in an all female society. Wilde also suggests that men of the Scythian community would do women’s work, and live like women. Herodotus is the first writer who describes the Scythian women. He says that they were originally Amazon women, who decided they would live with the Scythian men as long as the women could keep their warrior ways. Pseudo-Hippocrates, who wrote in the late fifth century BC says that the Scythian woman were a lot like the Amazons described in Greek literature, he believed that the mothers seared off their female child’s right breast at birth to make the strength go to the right arm. Wilde suggests that part of living within a society where survival depends on adaptability, might mean that woman would could take up men’s roles within the community, just as men could take up woman’s. She suggests some...
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