Amazons (without breast) In Greek mythology, tribe of female warriors who lived in Cappadocia in Asia Minor. They had only one breast, one having been removed in youth so that they could more freely shoot their bows. No men were allowed in the tribe. Mating took place at certain seasons with men of another race, and only girl babies were kept. If boys were born, they were killed, maimed, or given to their fathers. The Amazons appear in myths relating to Bellerophon, Heracles, Perseus, and Theseus, all of whom fought against them. Theseus kidnapped the Amazon queen Hippolyte (Antiope). Another Amazon queen, Penthesilea, aided the Trojans and was killed by Achilles during the Trojan War.
In Greek art the Amazons are portrayed as manly women with two breasts. Usually they are portrayed on horseback, sometimes in Scythian dress—a tight fur tunic with a cloak and a kind of Phrygian cap—though sometimes they are portrayed wearing a Dorian tunic tucked up, the right shoulder bare. The most famous statues of Amazons were by Phidias, Polyclitus, and Cresilas. The Greeks often cited the conquest of the Amazons as a triumph of civilization over barbarism. When the Spanish came to the New World, they reported that there was a race of Amazons in Brazil. One Spanish clergyman described them as “very tall, robust, fair, with long hair twisted over their heads, skins around their loins and bows and arrows in their hands, with which they killed seven or eight Spaniards.”
Amazons are mentioned or cited in Vergil’s Aeneid (book 5), Apollodorus’s Bibliotheca (Library, book 2), Herodotus’s Histories (book 4), and Pausanias’s Description of Greece (book 7).
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante