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The Amazons

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Author Topic: The Amazons  (Read 1360 times)
Isis
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« on: February 18, 2007, 04:57:20 am »

In the case of the Amazons, who were seen by the Greeks as wild women, the worship of Artemis takes on a dual meaning. While Artemis represented a goddess of nature, the hunt, childbirth, and other aspects feminine, she also had her darker aspects. Namely, wild women in Greece, especially those such as the Amazons were seen as unnatural. Either the Amazons were seen as man hating killers, or as wild women, in either case they were outside of the social norms of classical Greek societies such as Athens. Thus, it is not beyond theory to assume that the Amazons stood outside of normal Greek civilization, in the realm of wild and unbridled nature, and in the completely mythological sense, they served as examples of the fierceness of an untamed, unmarried, or uncivilized woman or girl.

A mythological analysis of Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo, illustrate the view that Amazon women stood out from the rest of Greek civilization. The table above lists the geneaology of the Gods, Artemis and Apollo. Artemis and Apollo were twins. Their parents were Zeus and Leto. Leto's parents were Phoebe, Titan of the Moon, and Coes, Titan of intelligence. Zeus's parents were Chronos, Titan over all the universe (until the Olympian gods took over), and the Titan Rhea, who held domain over all the earth.

The attributes of Artemis and Apollo are not in direct dichotomy to one another, though they are different. Artemis was born on the island of Ortyegia before her brother Apollo. Apollo was born on the island of Cynthas, near Delos. The attributes of Artemis follow: she held domain over childbirth, women of the countryside, the protection of animals, hunting, etc. Her brother Apollo held domain over healing, prophecy (he held domain over the oracle of Delphi), music, poetry, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, science, and archery. Both deities occupy two differing positions in Greek society. Namely, as Apollo is male, his main domain lay within the arts that would be practiced by usual Athenian or Greek citizen men within the city, the "civilized" arts included: music, philosophy, astronomy, etc. All of his aspects which were to the exclusion of women in classical Greece. Similarly in the myth of Hyacinth where, in the midst of a game of quoits (discus), Apollo throws the discus and accidentally hits and kills Hyacinthus a close male friend of his. Apollo is saddened so much that he creates the Hyacinth flower, which has the initials of H and A on the petals. It is not beyond speculation that the relationship between Apollo and Hyacinthus had possible homosexual overtones, which would not be unusual for the typical male of classical Greek society. In addition, Apollo was fed by the goddess Themis, sweet nectar and ambrosia. Themis is the goddess of right order, laws, mother of the fates, and hours (seasons). The appearance of this note in the Greek myth suggests that Apollo was born (as a representative of the traditional Greek male), into the concept of a natural order, or the natural way things should be in Greek civilization. Hence, Apollo symbolizes the typical Greek male, and does so as it is a part of the natural order. The domain of Artemis in contrast represents the traditional view and standing of women in ancient Greece. This contrast illustrates the difference between men and women in mythological thought, that women were closer to nature, were mysterious, had the power of life and death, and that they held domain over women's work in life. The emphasis on virginity when a girl married also fits into the domain of Artemis, in that in Athenian society, it was written by Vernant, that "Girls were meant to be kept, while boys were mean to be taught (cultured, etc.)."

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