Postcolonial Amazons: Female Masculinity and Courage in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit Literature

Hardcover | December 3, 2016

byWalter Duvall Penrose

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Scholars have long been divided on the question of whether the Amazons of Greek legend actually existed. Notably, Soviet archaeologists' discoveries of the bodies of women warriors in the 1980s appeared to directly contradict western classicists' denial of the veracity of the Amazon myth, andthere have been few concessions between the two schools of thought since. Postcolonial Amazons offers a ground-breaking re-evaluation of the place of martial women in the ancient world, bridging the gap between myth and historical reality and expanding our conception of the Amazon archetype. By shifting the centre of debate to the periphery of the world known to theGreeks, the startling conclusion emerges that the ancient Athenian conception of women as weak and fearful was not at all typical of the world of that time, even within Greece. Surrounding the Athenians were numerous peoples who held that women could be courageous, able, clever, and daring,suggesting that although Greek stories of Amazons may be exaggerations, they were based upon a real historical understanding of women who fought. In re-examining the sources of the Amazon myth, this compelling volume resituates the Amazons in the broader context from which they have been extracted, illustrating that although they were the quintessential example of female masculinity in ancient Greek thought, they were not the only instance ofthis phenomenon: masculine women were masqueraded on the Greek stage, described in the Hippocratic corpus, took part in the struggle to control Alexander the Great's empire after his death, and served as bodyguards in ancient India. Against the backdrop of the ongoing debates surrounding gendernorms and fluidity, it breaks new ground as an ancient history of female masculinity and demonstrates that these ideas have a much longer and more durable heritage than we may have supposed.

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Scholars have long been divided on the question of whether the Amazons of Greek legend actually existed. Notably, Soviet archaeologists' discoveries of the bodies of women warriors in the 1980s appeared to directly contradict western classicists' denial of the veracity of the Amazon myth, andthere have been few concessions between the ...

Walter D. Penrose, Jr. is an Associate Professor of History at San Diego State University. He earned his doctorate at the City University of New York Graduate Center with a dissertation entitled "Bold with the Bow and Arrow: Amazons and the Ethnic Gendering of Martial Prowess in Ancient Greek and Asian Cultures". He specializes in the ...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:December 3, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199533377

ISBN - 13:9780199533374

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Courageous Women in Ancient Greece: Female Masculinity, Proposed Gender Equality, and Chastity2. The Orientalized Amazon: From Female Masculinity to the Restoration of Patriarchy3. The Postcolonial Amazon and her Nomadic Context4. Herodotus Artemisia in Ethnic Perspective: Warrior Queens in Asia Minor, Libya, and the Persian Empire5. Hellenistic Warrior Queens: From the Battlefield to the Throne6. Civilized 'Amazons': Women Bodyguards and Hunters in Ancient India and PersiaConclusion