Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus, fl. 480: “My men have become women and women men”

Misogyny is a bane of any age and certainly the Greeks were as prone to it as any culture, but as in all things, men seem willing to make exceptions when the woman in question is notably accomplished, no longer a threat to the living, and somehow a credit to their own homeland.  Thus, the historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus is happy to give us the story of Artemisia, queen of Halicarnassus, despite her being a) a woman and b), a military commander of the hated Persians.

The title she inherited from unnamed husband (and despite their having a grown son). When the Persians marched west, she joined with them, serving notably in the battle for Euboea.  She also brought five triremes to the alliance, a significant contribution.  She warned Xerxes, however, not to take on the Greeks at sea, “for these people are as much superior to your people in seamanship, as men to women.”

Well, most women, at any rate. Continue reading