They Came and Conquered
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In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy the Andromeda women are the women who are the defense force for the Tethyan people. They were not in the initial construct of the series, but showed up demanding not just attention, but place. Their role kept expanding and evolving.
They Are Real!
We’ve all heard of the Amazon warrior women. Were they real or a mythological construct? It didn’t matter. I wanted warrior women in the story. Were they real and did they live along the Amazon River in Brazil as the name might suggest? No.
And then I ran across the book The Amazons by Adrienne Mayor. What I found was an amazing encyclopedia—a life’s work in some ways. She opened my eyes and gave an additional perspective on the role of women in the world. Fascinating.
The Reality Expanded
The Amazon women fundamentally are from the region called Sythia which was a territory stretching “from the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea (northern Greece, European Turkey, southwestern Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and former Yugoslavia” The warrior women are also found in the Steppes into Asia. These areas were inhabited by nomadic and seminomadic people who fought among themselves and were involved in changing alliances. While there is no perfect clarity in this fraught region, the women were often referred to as Amazons. Yes, they were warriors and fought fiercely along side their men.
Ancient Essential Equality
In so many of these tribes the women had remarkable equality to live, love and die in battle. There was evidence of free sex and it seemed that paternity was not at issue. Life could be short, brutal and, it seemed, exciting. It was a challenging environment where survival was at issue. Does paternity as an issue fade away when there is nothing to inherit as there might not be in these tribes? The continuity and survival of the tribe was the primary issue.
Prejudice against women is an issue in today’s world. The ancient world too had deep prejudice about Amazon women in some of their societies. In ancient Greece, for example, women were subjugated at home. In the Greek tales of their heroes these men went to war against the Amazon women.
Another World to the North and East
Among the Sythian tribes women were equalized and went to war. One of the reasons was their management of horses. In today’s horse culture we still see women prominently. One suspicion was that horses respond better to a woman’s less confrontational approach. Women also were at no disadvantage at all on horseback and so did well in battle. Since archery on horseback was common, women could easily and effectively participate. And it seems that iron weaponry was first developed among these people and the women put these weapons to good use.
Prejudice in the ancient world was just as widespread as presently. Interestingly the term Barbarian, which we take as a negative, referred to anyone who didn’t speak ancient Greek.
In history, women often fought alongside the men. In the TV series The Vikings we see the Shield Maidens standing in battle along side their men. Warrior women were prominent in the Middle East and all the way into China. In India and China in the martial arts the battles were often fought without weapons and women could participate and triumph.
Forgive me for not being more definitive. The stories are long and the information is detailed. There are very few universals to lend simplicity. I recommend Mayor’s book for detailing of all kinds. It goes deep into myths, ancient stories, even to such things as who invented trousers, sagas, tattooing and on and on.
The import of the book to me was that it speaks to the reality of women and cultural differences. It is illuminating and liberating.
They Came and Conquered
And then there is the matter of my choosing to have warrior women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. I did much of the writing before I found Mayor’s book. It reinforced my choice to include these talented, smart and brave women who stood for the defense of their people and ultimately the future of humankind. Interestingly I chose to have them evolve through the series and Mayor’s book supports such an involvement.
I’ll be blogging more about the Andromeda women. Early on I thought they would be useful for the plot, but found my feminist leaning led to a steady increase in their part in the story. I’ll be commenting on their role but also be blogging about stories related to individual women.
What I love more than anything is that currently I’m seeing illumination and empowerment of women in all regards. It is not just right and not just time, but as in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy it may well lead us to an enhanced future.
Is there an Amazon in your life?
Roger B. Burt’s Amazon page