Although the history of art does not show this to be the case, ancient legend claimed that the Amazon warriors—the easier to bend the bow and fling the spear—had their right breasts amputated. Indeed, popular Greek etymology explained the name “Amazon” as derived from amazos, “without breast.”
I wonder, however, if that physical mutilation did not also insinuate in the Amazons some deeper and more significant impairment, a hint, as it were, of diminished femininity. The willful loss of that breast suggests—to me, at least—that the Amazons, as women, were not quite up to the mark. I confess to a basic, inherited, and irremediable bias against women warriors. I don’t like girls getting into fights. It ain’t proper.
I especially do not approve of women fighting the way men do, which is how classical literature describes the Amazons. Indeed, they are called antianeira—“a match for a man” (Iliad 3.189; 6.186). Ugh!
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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