Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Amazons, a mythic race of female warriors, whose exploits form an important part of Greek mythology. They were said to inhabit the country round the Caucasus, and to have fixed their principal seats on the river Thermodon, in the neighbourhood of the modern Trebizond; and from this parent stock came two branches who settled respectively in Scythia and in Africa. They are described as hardy, courageous, indefatigable women, burning away their right breast so that they might be enabled to draw the bow freely, dwelling apart from men, and allowing themselves only a short temporary intercourse with their neighbours, the Gargareans, for the purpose of renewing their numbers, bringing up their daughters in their own peculiar fashion, and killing their sons or sending them back to the land of their fathers. The contest between the Greeks and the Amazons was said to have begun when Hercules invaded their country in the execution of his ninth labour. The hero was required by Eurystheus, King of the Argives, to bring him the baldric of Hippolyta, the Amazonian queen. According to some authorities, Theseus took part in this expedition, while others say that he led a distinct expedition at a later date, to avenge which the Amazons invaded Attica, passing round the Black Sea and crossing the Cimmerian Bosphorus (now the Strait of Yenikale) on the ice. They continued in Attica four months and fought several battles, but were at last routed and driven out of Greece. Towards the end of the Trojan war they came to the assistance of Priam, led by their queen, Penthesileia, who is said to have been slain by Achilles. The war with the Amazons was often treated by Greek sculptors and painters, and apparently formed the subject of the metope on the north side of the Parthenon (in fitting proximity to the sculptured representation of the struggle between the Centaurs and the Lapithae), and certainly that of a relief in the Acropolis. The name of this mythic race was formerly said to be Greek, and to mean "breastless"; but in all probability this is a folk-etymology, invented to account for the myth, and the word is now believed to have come from Africa, in which continent female warriors exist to the present day. The body-guard of the king of the Behrs, on the White Nile, is composed entirely of women, as is a large part of the army of the King of Dahomey.