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Lecture: The Amazons—Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World

May 8, 2014
Fullerton Hall
Free with museum admission

Fierce Amazons and their warrior queens—Hippolyte, Antiope, and Penthesilea—star in some of the most famous Greek myths and every great Greek hero tangled with them including Heracles, Theseus, and Achilles. But were Amazons real? 

Research has indicated that Greek stories and images of Amazons were influenced by the real lives of steppe nomads whose women rode to war. Referred to as “Scythians” by the Greeks, these nomadic horse-archers ranged over the immense territory stretching from the Black Sea to Mongolia. 

However, the Greeks were not the only ones to spin tales about warrior women; Amazon stories also arose in other ancient cultures including the Caucasus, Persia, Egypt, and China. These narratives also drew on encounters with steppe nomads and their heroes also battled women warriors. Join Adrienne Mayor, research scholar, Classics and History and Philosophy of Science, Stanford University, as she discusses these ancient women warriors. 

This illustrated lecture is the first public talk based on Adrienne Mayor’s forthcoming book The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Sponsored by the Boshell Foundation Lecture Fund 

Attributed to the Medea group; Greek. Neck Amphora (Storage Jar), about 520 B.C. Anonymous loan.