Salamis: Artemisia I of Caria

Artemisia inherited the throne from her father the Persian Strap of Caria Lygdamis; she seems to have had an adult son, but was still considered fit to rule despite being a woman. I've been working on Artemisia and other warrior queens today, and I believe I've noted before that the East Mediterranean and Middle East had long histories of pre-Islamic women rulers and warrior queens. To the Greeks the Persians were barbarians, depicted defeated in architectural sculpture along other examples of lack of civilization: Centaurs, Amazons, etc. It strikes me that the large number of powerful women in Persian history, and the high social status of the 'weaker sex' might be a reason that the Achaemenids were seen as 'barbarian'?

Artemisia took part in Persian War II, as a military leader and adviser to Xerxes. After the Battle of Salamis [Greeks 1 - Persians 0], her sage advice and valiant combat are said to have inspired Xerxes to claim, according to Herodotus, that:
"My men have turned into women and my women into men ..."

After the battle she managed to escape, despite the fact that the Greeks had put a higher bounty on her head than on that of any other Persian commander including Xerxes - 10,000 drachmae.

Herodotus was brought up in Caria, and as a child would have heard tales told by men who had fought with Artemisia.

Interestingly Xerxes' grand-father, Cyrus the Great is said to have been killed by another warrior queen - Queen Tomyris of the Massagetai [Herodotus I.214]:

Tomyris, when she found that Cyrus paid no heed to her advice, collected all the forces of her kingdom, and gave him battle. Of all the combats in which the barbarians have engaged among themselves, I reckon this to have been the fiercest. The following, as I understand, was the manner of it: First, the two armies stood apart and shot their arrows at each other; then, when their quivers were empty, they closed and fought hand-to-hand with lances and daggers; and thus they continued fighting for a length of time, neither choosing to give ground. At length the Massagetai prevailed. The greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed and Cyrus himself fell, after reigning nine and twenty years. Search was made among the slain by order of the queen for the body of Cyrus, and when it was found she took a skin, and, filling it full of human blood, she dipped the head of Cyrus in the gore, saying, as she thus insulted the corpse, "I live and have conquered you in fight, and yet by you am I ruined, for you took my son with guile; but thus I make good my threat, and give you your fill of blood." Of the many different accounts which are given of the death of Cyrus, this which I have followed appears to me most worthy of credit.

Although the position of women in formerly Achaemenid lands today might not be good ... in their day they seem to have been pretty advanced.
It helped being able to wield a sword and an army.

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