sprung from my love for Ancient Greek culture – I used to devour books on ancient
history and started to realize how biased most authors were in their
account of the Greco-Persian wars (something
that has also permeated pop culture, such as in that
film-that-must-not-be-named by Zack Snyder) There has always
been this tendency of idealizing the Greeks and demonizing the Persians by
misinterpreting data and ignoring or exagerating
information when convinient. But I’ve always liked to hear the other
side of every story so I progressively changed the focus to Achaemenid history; and
Kashayarsha turned out to be such an interesting figure, the stuff of myths ♥
For me he was the
real-life Phaeton, the spoiled little prince born in the purple, raised in
halls of Lydian gold, Egyptian ivory and Sogdian carnelian, and made to believe
it was in him to achieve anything he proposed himself to do. And then he
failed, terribly, in the worst
possible way. Thousands and thousands died for him, including those he loved, and had to come back not only empty-handed but having lost so much
and so many… imagine the psychological impact that must have had on him, on his perception of the self, on everything. Even
Aeschylus could see the tragic quality of it and had to write a play about Sarsha
(with his own, pro-athenian moral) which
I also love and captures perfectly that sense of pathos (”look at me, born
to bring disaster… my soul screams at the thought, my heart thrashes about in
my breast calling their name: unforgettable suffering, unforgettable names…”)
I happened to need a new url, and it had to be this one. I have absolutely no intention of
changing it. -xx
The xiphos (Greek: (το) ξίφος) is a double-edged, single-hand sword used by the ancient Greeks. It was a secondary battlefield weapon for the Greek armies after the spear or javelin. The classic blade was generally about 50–60 cm long, although the Spartans supposedly started to use blades as short as 30 cm around the era of the Greco-Persian Wars. The xiphos sometimes has a midrib, or is diamond or lenticular in cross-section. It was generally hung from a baldric under the left arm. The xiphos was generally used only when the spear was discarded for close combat. Very few xiphoi seem to have survived; photos of some of these can be found via the footnotes.
Stone's Glossary has the xiphos being a name used by Homer for a sword. The entry in the book says that the sword had a double-edged blade widest at about two-thirds of its length from the point, and ending in a very long point. The name xiphos apparently means something in the way of “penetrating light” according to researcher and swordsmith Peter Johnsson.
The xiphos’ leaf shaped design lent itself to both cutting and thrusting. The design has most likely been in existence since the appearance of the first swords. Blades in bronze and iron are suitable for a leaf shape due to the softness of the metals in comparison to steel. Bronze swords are cast and are thus are more easily formed into a leaf shape than iron swords, which need to be forged. (Wrought iron is too soft to make a good sword, but many swords were still made in part or total from wrought iron.)
The early xiphos was a bronze sword. In the classical period it would have been made of iron. The early Celtic La Tène short sword, contemporary with the xiphos, had a virtually identical blade design as the xiphos.
The leaf-shaped short swords were not limited to Greece, as mentioned, but can be found throughout Europe in the late Bronze Age under various names. Bronze leaf-shaped swords from as early as the late second millennium still survive. The Urnfield culture is associated with the use of the leaf shaped bronze short sword. It is generally thought that iron swords had replaced bronze swords by the early La Tène culture about 500BC. During the Halstatt culture a mixture of bronze and iron swords seem to have existed side by side. Iron tends to become severely oxidized (rusted) over the years, and few iron swords have survived, in contrast to bronze and bronze swords that age very well. Thus, much is known regarding the sword during the Bronze Age but less so in the early Iron Age. Bronze thrusting swords from the second millennium still exist in excellent condition.
The Mycenaean form of the word is attested in the dual, as qi-si-pe-e.
A relation to Arabic saifun and Egyptian sēfet has been suggested, although this does not explain the presence of a labiovelar in Mycenaean. One suggestion connects Ossetic äxsirf "sickle", which would point to a virtual Indo-European *kwsibhro-.
Alexander and the Thracian hill-men at Mount Haemus:
After Philip’s death, his son Alexander III (the Great) sought to quell rebellions and secure the Greek mainland and Balkans before launching his campaign against Persia. In 335 BCE Alexander marched toward the area of the sword-bearing hill-men known as the Dii or ‘Free Thracians’, those who remained out of the control of Philip II’s earlier Balkan campaign. Alexander arrived at a narrow canyon called the Trojan Pass where the Dii awaited them from the summit of the Haemus Mountains; here the Dii had assembled their carts into a stockade. If Alexander were to march uphill through a narrow and restrictive path against a fortified and entrenched foe his losses would be more than he would’ve thought acceptable. Instead Alexander assumed that the Dii would become impatient enough to force the carts downhill towards Alexander’s tightly formed phalanxes in attempt to disrupt them then rush downhill from their advantageous position to attack Alexander. Expecting this to occur, Alexander devised a plan.
“he ordered the heavy-armed soldiers, as soon as the wagons began to rush down the declivity, to open their ranks, and directed that those whom the road was sufficiently wide to permit to do so should stand apart, so that the wagons plight roll through the gap; but that those who were hemmed m on all sides should either stoop down together or even fall flat on the ground, and lock their shields compactly together, so that the wagons rushing down upon them, and in all probability by their very impetus leaping over them, might pass on without injuring them.” – The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian of Nicomedia, book 1.
It went as planned so with no injured soldiers Alexander ordered his archers to repel and cut down the Dii (Thracians) while his phalanx drove them away. In the end the Dii discarded their arms and fled.
“About 1,500 of them were killed; but only a few were taken prisoners on account of their swiftness of foot and acquaintance with the country. However, all the women who were accompanying them were captured, as were also their children and all their booty.” – The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian of Nicomedia, book 1.
Alexander and the Triballi:
Alexander then marched from the Haemus mountains into the land of the Triballi (Thraco-Illyrians) whose king (Syrmus), women and children sought refuge at Peuce island on the Danube River to the north. The Triballi who remained in their home territory marched south to a river Alexander had crossed that same day and encamped there. Alexander heard of their operations and led a surprise assault against the Triballian camp. Surprised, the Triballi fled to a nearby “woody glen along the bank of the river” (Arrian, II). Alexander, wishing to utilize his horsemen and phalanx which did better on open ground, sent his archers and stone-slingers to harass and lure the Triballi out of the wood. Again, just as expected, Alexander was able to lure the enemy out of their advantageous position. As the Triballi rushed forward to attack the archers, Alexander sent his cavalrymen to charge the Triballi on their left and right flank while he himself led his phalanx and cavalry forward to the Triballian center. This flanking formation forced the Triballi to flee into the wooded glen.
“at length they turned and fled through the woody glen to the river. Three thousand were slain in the flight; few of them were taken prisoners, both because there was a dense wood in front of the river, and the approach of night deprived the Macedonians of certainty in their pursuit. Ptolemy says, that of the Macedonians themselves eleven horsemen and about forty foot soldiers were killed.” – The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian of Nicomedia, book 2.
With the Balkans subjugated Alexander would go on to employ Thracians, Illyrians and the Paeonians (Thraco-illyrians). In his army these Balkan peoples took on the role of cavalrymen, scouts and skirmishers who would either defend his armies flanks and cavalrymen or harass and shred the enemies’ numbers.
“He excited the Illyrians and Thracians by describing the enemy’s wealth and treasures” – Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus by Marcus Junianus Justinus, 11.9.
“When Alexander had conquered and subdued Thrace and was setting out for Asia, fearing that after his departure the Thracians would take up arms, he took with him, as though by way of conferring honor, their kings and officials — all in fact who seemed to take to heart the loss of freedom. In charge of those left behind he placed common and ordinary persons, thus preventing the officials from wishing to make any change, as being bound to him by favors, and the common people from even being able to do so, since they had been deprived of their leaders.” – Stratagems by Sextus Julius Frontinus, 2.11.3.
During Alexander’s campaigns against the Persians and even after his death, the Thracians continued resisting Hellenistic rule. The resistance continued until the famed Eastern Gallic invasion of the Balkans where these Celts undermined and fractured Hellenistic rule while securing their dominion over Thrace. The Gallic grip on Thrace held until 212 BCE when the Thracian king Pleuratus led an assault on the Gallic capital of Tylis which resulted in the expulsion of the Gauls and the reestablishment of Thracian rule.
I cover this invasion and these eastern Celts in my posts:
GAULS OF THE EAST: PART 1 – BANDITS OF THE BALKANS. In this post I cover the rarely spoken of Gauls of southeastern Europe, their invasion of Greece, employment as mercenaries under Ptolemaic Egypt, their rebellious and warlike society as well as their little known kingdom of Tylis in Thrace. I will also cover their weaponry, armors and some archaeological finds.
GAULS OF THE EAST: PART 2 – HELLENIZED GALATIANS OF ASIA MINOR. In this post cover the Celts who migrated into Asia Minor, established a Greco-Gallic state, became renowned as warriors and mercenaries, played an integral part in the Hellenistic ‘Game of Thrones’ of the Diadochi (Alexander the Great’s successor), ravaged and terrorized the region, as well as forcing “tribute on the whole of Asia west of the Taurus” (Livy, 38.16.12). I’ll also speak about their armors, weaponry and how they may have inspired some Greek and Roman arms as well as some military units.
Head over to my post, ‘THRACIANS, REAPERS OF THE BALKANS’, to learn about their culture, religion, weaponry, armors, battle tactics, and their influence on the ancient world. Their history as well, from the tales in the Iliad to the era of the Greco-Persian Wars, the rise of Macedon under Philip II (Alexander the Great’s father), and the Roman conquests of the Balkans.
Mankind has waged for on the sea for 3 millenia. Any tribe or backwater nation can use canoes and rafts to an extent in warfare. Using them as landingcraft or has mobile archer emplacements to harrass the enemy. But only when ships became strong, sturdy and hard enough did the term “Naval warfare” come into use.
Naval warfare as we know today can be traced back to the Phonecians, a trading nation of city states, situated along the north africa coastline. The Phonecians used long, single decked, sturdy warships with a battering ram on the bow. This battering ram was used for smashing into other ships. The long length of the ship was a structural weakness, so they made the ships fatter by adding another deck of oarsmen, the greeks adding a third deck. This triple decked warship would become the most common ship of the persian, greek and roman empires. The trieme
The first major war decided by naval warfare was the greco persian wars. At the battle of salamis the greeks had 378 triemes in their fleet, which would go up against the persian 600. Archers would stand on deck and fire flaming arrows across the water, ships shattered. Each ship carried around 10 hoplites who would leap to enemy ships and cut the sailors down with their sword. However if they fell into the water, their armour would weight them down and they would drown underneath the waves.
The Trieme was fast and agile. But as the punic wars flared up in the mediterranean, newer, heavier, more powerful vessels such as the Quinquereme superceded the trieme. The Quinquereme had five banks of oars and could crush the lighter triemes. During the first punic war, carthage maintained an exstensive fleet, and according to ancient sources, the romans found a washed up Quinquereme and built their own vessels on that design. They fitted their ships with bronze battering rams and boarding planks with sharp beaks to plant into the deck of enemy ships, and hold it in place while the vastly superior roman legions could board and capture the carthaginian ships and slaughter the weaker carthaginian marines. These boarding planks won rome the first punic war, the sharp metal spikes that held the enemy vessels in place, led to the roman legions calling them “ravens”.
Rome abandoned the raven by the roman civil war. They placed catapults on their warships and large towers. Making the ship more or less, a mobile fortress. They attacked hooks to their catapults to drag enemy ships. They also mounted artillery such as the ballista on their towers, With a max range of 500 yards, these heavy crossbows where highly prized weapons, able to fling large stones or metal bolts to puncture pirate ships.
However a much more unusual and spectacular form of naval combat was used after the fall of rome, during the late antiquity. During the siege of constantinople (674-678 AD) the byzantines used Dromons, which were a very light and fast ship. Emperor Constantine IV used greek fire to destroy the arab navy. This substance burned on water and roasted the arab fleet alive by using an early form of flamethrower.
Remind you of a certain tv show?
If you have any ideas for what I should post for next military monday, it can be anything, a battle, a leader, an idea, a concept or tactic, a military unit or formation. Do not hesitate to send in your suggestions, either by message or comment.
A quick & crude note about my first semester at St. John's
What a lovely, brilliant, humane, weird, and dedicated group of people—both the tutors and the students.
First: St. John’s invites you to detonate your intellectual preferences and prejudices, and you would be a fool to decline. Because in order to ask questions as radically simple as “What is weight?”, or as messily human as “Is Achilles honorable?”, you have to pretend to forget what weight and honor are just long enough to realize, in inquiry, that you never actually knew what weight and honor are and that you might never know. This questioning goes beyond the Socratic reliance on logically pure, deductive definitions, because that whole method of inquiry gets questioned, too. Simply: Studying at St. John’s reinvests much of the world with its prime weirdness and enduring mysteries.
We started with the Iliad, and have since written Gregorian chants, built barometers, argued with Socrates, translated Heraclitus, examined nascent chick hearts, tried to disprove and then one-up Euclid, sung Sicut Cervus, been wrecked by the Oresteia, dissected cats, classified conifers, grabbed at a definition of biological life, bugged out at Plato’s Republic, admired Themistocles, confusedly measured heat, recreated Pascal’s water pressure experiments, studied the Greco-Persian War, boiled room temperature water within a vacuum, and mourned the death of the West’s most notorious philosopher.
The school’s pace and demands are rigorous, and the school requires you to be honest, precise, and attentive; the school wants you to learn how to learn—to deeply submerge yourself in what is unfamiliar and challenging—so a major part of that task is learning to shut the hell up and listen. Unlike big universities, this does not mean listening to a lecture, one receptacle among five hundred. At St. John’s, inquiry is communal (my tutorials contain no more than twelve people; my seminars no more than twenty), and this means that everyone has a share in the task. Curiosity is equally weighted, no matter its source. Synthesis is sought, not rhetorical victory. There is no greater thrill in a St. John’s class than seeing or understanding something—something contrary to a notion that you comfortably held while entering the room—that you could not have seen or understood alone. In other words, the more you feel challenged, unseated, and invited to change, the better.
St. John’s is designed to shake you up, and if you work hard and accept its hands on your shoulders, it succeeds.
To friends, family, and others who care: I’m having a fucking blast.
Philip II of Macedon (359–336 BCE), father of the famed Alexander the Great, came to rule Macedon at a difficult time. Macedon had long been harassed by the barbarous Illyrians and Thracians as well as the civilized Greeks to their south. Philip quickly began a series of diplomatic actions in the form of marriages and bribery. As an example, the Thracian prince Berisades was supporting a pretender to the Macedonian throne named Pausanias and planned an invasion of Macedon but Philip “prevented the return of Pausanias by winning over with gifts the king who was on the point of attempting his restoration” (Diodorus, 16.3.4). Philip’s diplomatic prowess allowed him momentarily lessen the number of threats, to literally buy enough time to reform his army and to pick off his enemies one at a time.
The Athenians were allied with the barbarous Illyrians, Paeonians, and Thracians who were troubling Macedon. The above mentioned Berisades, along with his son and co-ruler Cetriporis, joined this anti-Macedonian alliance alongside. Other than these two, there was another Thracian prince named Cersebleptes (son of Cotys) who declared war on his nephew Cetriporis after his father’s death. Cersebleptes ruled east of the Hebrus River and was a puppet, with the one truly in charge being a Greek (Euboean) mercenary named Charidemus who raised Cersebleptes after his father’s death. Philip II set his eyes on the gold and silver mines of Thrace, his opportunity to strike arose in c. 346 BCE when two Thracian princes and brothers (Cersebleptes and Amadocus) chose him to act as a judge or arbitrator “of their disputes” between the two. They chose Philip “not, indeed, from respect for his justice, but because each dreaded that he would unite his strength to that of the other”.
“Philip, in accordance with his practice and disposition, came unexpectedly upon the brothers with an army in full array, not apparently to try a cause, but to fight a battle, and spoiled them both of their dominions, not like a judge, but with the perfidy and baseness of a robber.” – Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus by Marcus Junianus Justinus, Book 8.3.
By 340 BCE Philip had inevitably subjugated the divided Thracian kingdoms turned it into a Macedonian province, garrisoned forts in strategic locations and allied himself with the coastal Greek colonies. According to the later (2nd or 3rd century CE) Latin historian Justin (Marcus Junianus Justinus), while Philip II was besieging Byzantion (later known as Constantinople and Istanbul) he abandoned it to pursue an expedition into Scythia in the north for the purpose of plunder which would “make up for the expenses of one war by the profits of another” (Justin, 9.1). After defeating the Scythians and extracting tribute from them (slaves, horses and cattle), Philip and his army were confronted by the Triballi (Thraco-Illyrians) who would grant the Macedonians safe passage in exchange for a “share of the spoil” (Justin, 9.3).
“Hence arose a dispute, and afterwards a battle, in which Philip received so severe a wound through the thigh, that his horse was killed by it; and while it was generally supposed that he was dead, the booty was lost. Thus the Scythian spoil, as if attended with a curse, had almost proved fatal to the Macedonians.” – Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus by Marcus Junianus Justinus, 9.3.
Head over to my post, ‘THRACIANS, REAPERS OF THE BALKANS’, to learn about their culture, religion, weaponry, armors, battle tactics, and their influence on the ancient world. Their history as well, from the tales in the Iliad to the era of the Greco-Persian Wars, the rise of Macedon under Philip II’s son (Alexander the Great), and the Roman conquests of the Balkans.
We see Artemisia of Halicarnassus, hotly pursued by a trireme from the Attica squadron, cram on all speed and ruthlessly run down one of her own side, a vessel commanded by some Carian princeling from nearby Calynda.
‘I cannot say’, Herodotus observes demurely, 'if she did this deliberately because of some quarrel she had with this man… or if it was just chance that that particular vessel was in the way.’
At all events, she did doubly well out of the error. Her assailant – that same Ameinias of Pallene who had attacked the Phoenician Admiral’s flagship at the onset of the engagement – observing what had happened, came to the conclusion that his quarry was either a Greek or a deserter fighting on the Greek side, and turned off in search for some other victim. Ameinias was out of his mind with rage and frustration when he learnt the truth, since the Athenians (who disliked the idea of a woman taking up arms against them) had put a 10,000-drachma price on Artemisia’s head, and given their captains special instructions to capture her at all costs.
An account of the end of the Battle of Salamis, fought between an alliance of Greek city-states under Themistocles and the Persian Empire under King Xerxes in 480 BCE. The Greeks had decisively won and Xerxes’ ships and allies fled in confusion. Queen Artemisia downs an ally ship in her haste to retreat. But it worked well for her. It might have been the thing which allowed her to escape! From Peter Green, in The Greco-Persian Wars.
Unpopular opinion: Spartans are grossly overrated. They relied on slave labor and focused so much on combat training that their society became stagnant. Without the support (willing or coerced) of allied Greek states, they wouldn't have made their famous achievements in war. Their usefulness in the Greco-Persian wars has been exaggerated, partly because most historic accounts of them aren't even written by Spartans.
Disagree: I will go point by point. The
Spartans were the finest fighters of their age, there is no arguing that. They
were literally the greatest bronze age warriors. To say that is not overrating
them; it is simply stating fact.
So let’s go through a few things:
everything ends eventually (there is no shame in that), they dominated the
region for 300 years, Sparta was great at the Allies game, every culture owned
slaves, and they were greatly loved by the foreign philosophers and historians
of the day.
Their society EVENTUALLY became stagnant.
They were around nearly 300 years before their fall. Rome only lasted 400
before its fall from grace, and America still has 60ish years to go before it
gets there. Many reasons went into Sparta’s downfall, but more than any other:
its inflexibilities when it came to military recruitment (You had to be a full
Spartan Citizen (mother and father being Spartan) before you could own land,
hold office, or serve in the military. It is above its focus on combat training
that led to its eventual demise.
A valuable lesson for any civilization:
your inflexibilities will lead to your down fall. Nowhere have I stated that
Sparta stood alone. In fact, it is very important and telling that they did not.
Sparta had allies, both willing and coerced, meaning that Sparta was powerful
enough, and good enough, at diplomacy that people wanted to be its friends and
that they were powerful enough, and good enough, at war that people didn’t want
to be their enemies.
In fact, one of the reasons democracy
exists today is Spartan coercion: Thebes wanted to destroy Athens (fabled
founders of democracy) after the victory in the Peloponnesian War but Sparta
stopped them. A war that Sparta won by the way, after all of Athens’ allies ran
away… Which is important to note because coerced or not, Sparta’s allies
actually stayed loyal while Sparta was too scary or strong for Athens allies to
want to stay with it in the fight.
Sparta was not a stupid culture. They used
what they had; be it allies (Peloponnesian war), or terrain (Thermopylae), to
destroy their enemies, and won victories against numerically superior foes like
the Persians. Because they didn’t have to carry the entire burden of the war,
they just had to hold the center and keep everyone moving forward; which they
were very good at.
As for the slavery issue EVERY MAJOR
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION HAS HAD SLAVES. Even Rome had slaves close to 80 million;
something like 40% of their total population. So saying that an ancient culture
was overrated based on slavery is rather naïve to say the least.
As for accounts not written by the
Spartans, let’s look at a few: we have nearly every famous philosopher of the
day praising Sparta up and down… Plato, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plutarch to
name drop a little. These great men and great minds of the age greatly admired
Sparta, it’s culture, and it’s warrior spirit. To say that they endorsed Sparta
is, again, not overrating them, but stating fact. So I will have to side with
the actual people who lived during Spartan greatness since they likely have a
better viewpoint/understanding then any armchair historian.
quick question: any fave underrated women in greek mythology / history? as in, women that may not be all that well known / understood by a mainstream audience?
I’m answering this publicly in case any of my wonderful followers who know more about women in Greek myth/history want to add to this. I study military history, so my knowledge on ancient Greek women (especially obscure women) is probably less in-depth than the other amazing classicists who study different areas. Here are some women that I am personally fond of:
Hydna of Skionewas a total badass who, along with her father, at the battle of Salamis cut the goddamn lines of the Persian ships by diving under them. You know, only 10 MILES OFF THE COAST. In a storm. The ships were destroyed. No big deal for Hydna.
Agnodike (possibly mythical) was a midwife and doctor who dressed up as a man in order to be able to train in Alexandria. Badass alert.
Thetis. Literal goddess and mother of Achilles who wins #1 mom of the year award 10 years running. She’s featured most in the Iliad and is great. She is the reason why Achilles even can rejoin the battle, since she gets him new armor from Hephaistos.
Thetis: “Yet, see now, your splendid armour, glaring and brazen, is held among the Trojans, and Hektor of the shining helmet wears it on his own shoulders, and glories in it. Yet I think he will not glory for long, since his death stands very close to him. Therefore do not yet go into the grind of the war god, not before with your own eyes you see me come back to you. For I am coming to you at dawn and as the sun rises bringing splendid armour to you from the lord Hephaistos.” (Iliad 18.130-137 trans. Lattimore)
Hera is also in the Iliad and is very cool. She’s made into this bitchy wife stereotype in modern culture, but in the Iliad she’s fucking shit up on the battlefield with Athena. Very underrated.
Briseis is also great and says a very nice lament for Patroklos in the Iliad. Her character is constantly screwed up in modern culture (Troy and Song of Achilles, I’m looking at you. And while I’m on the subject: Deidameia)
And now, in the likeness of golden Aphrodite, Briseis when she saw Patroklos lying torn with sharp bronze, folding him in her arms cried shrilly above him and with her hands tore at her breasts and her soft throat and her beautiful forehead. The woman like the immortals mourning for him spoke to him: ‘Patroklos, far most pleasing to my heart in its sorrows, I left you here alive when I went away from the shelter, but now I come back, lord of the people, to find you have fallen.’ (Iliad 19.282-289 trans. Lattimore)
Queen Gorgo of Sparta was awesome (300 actually got something right) and instrumental in the Greco-Persian wars. And in Herodotus, she was the only one smart enough to figure out where a secret message about Xerxes’ plan was written on a wax tablet.
Olympias, Alexander the Great’s mother, has been underrated and treated poorly in common culture since the ancient times (just watch the 2004 movie Alexander and you’ll see how they screwed her over).
Olympias, however, refused to flee but on the contrary was ready to be judged before all the Macedonians, Cassander, fearing that the crowd might change its mind if it heard the queen defend herself and was reminded of all the benefits conferred on the entire nation by Alexander and Philip, sent to her two hundred soldiers who were best fitted for such a task, ordering them to slay her as soon as possible. They, accordingly, broke into the royal house, but when they beheld Olympias, overawed by her exalted rank, they withdrew with their task unfulfilled. (Diodorus 19.51.4-5)
And of course SAPPHO. I can’t leave out Sappho and she can never be overrated in my opinion. But thankfully she’s not that obscure.
I hope this list helped. I’m sure there are many other wonderful and underrated women in ancient Greek myth and history, and if anyone wants to add their favorite please do so!
Artemisia I of Caria was a Queen of Halicarnassus. She fought alongside Xerxes I of Persia in the Greco-Persian wars and was the only female naval commander. She fought at both the naval Battle of Artemisium as well as the naval Battle of Salamis in 480 BC as a commander in the Persian navy. During the disastrous Battle of Salamis (which she strongly recommended Xerxes to postpone), Artemisia fought so bravely that Xerxes is said to have exclaimed, “My men have become women, and my women, men!”.
A question, but first I just wanted to say I love the blog! Ok, so what do you think is the most significant battle in history, and why?
During the Greco-Persian Wars, Battle of the Eurymedon in 466 BCE which ended Persian incursions in Greece and led to the Greek-influenced culture of the Romans, which led to modern Europe. If the Persians had defeated the Delian League, the world would be a very different place. To start with, the Roman Empire (if it existed at all) would be Persian-influenced, so two of the top three spoken languages, English and Spanish, would be very very different.
There are no similar battles in China. The dominant Han culture was never truly threatened. It dominated its sphere of influence for millenia, and shaped modern Japanese, Chinese, Mongolian, and Vietnamese culture. If there was a similar turning point in Chinese history, though, I would have said that battle.