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Femmes et guerrières, les Amazones de Scythie (Hérodote, IV, 110-117)

Abstract : In Greek cities, it is commonly held, there were two very different ways of life for girls and boys: either making children or making war. It also seems that the Greek imaginaire explored a wide range of possible behaviours even if one of them emerges constantly, the model of the virgin warrior (a divinity or an Amazon) avoiding marriage to engage in a function usually limited to men. Nevertheless, there is a very well known document, Herodotus’ story of the Scythian Amazons, that does not fit this broad picture. In this text, Herodotus mentions seductive female warriors who beget children and teach them their own way of life without a qualm. How shall — usually presented as a anthropological norm — between male warriors and female spouses? In Herodotus, Amazons fight in war as male warriors do, and they are also spouses, becoming mothers in an etiological account that makes the different functions succeed one another. On the other hand, the Sauromatians, born from Amazons and young Scythians, are simultaneously, and according to their sex, female/male warriors, male/female spouses, fathers/mothers. If women citizens are excluded from regular armies (as from political assemblies and courts), Herodotus’story, elucidated by documentation of his time, shows that in the Greek cities, it could be absolutely normal for women to bear arms, when the city needed them we consider this outstanding story that challenges the complementary opposition — usually presented as an anthropological norm — between male warriors and female spouses? In Herodotus, Amazons fight in war as male warriors do, and they are also spouses, becoming mothers in an etiological account that makes the different functions succeed one another. On the other hand, the Sauromatians, born from Amazons and young Scythians, are simultaneously, and according to their sex, female/male warriors, male/female spouses, fathers/mothers. If women citizens are excluded from regular armies (as from political assemblies and courts), Herodotus’story, elucidated by documentation of his time, shows that in the Greek cities, it could be absolutely normal for women to bear arms, when the city needed them.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02099848
Contributor : Agnès Tapin <>
Submitted on : Monday, April 15, 2019 - 12:27:46 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 3:44:15 AM

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Violaine Sebillotte Cuchet. Femmes et guerrières, les Amazones de Scythie (Hérodote, IV, 110-117). Mètis - Anthropologie des mondes grecs anciens, Daedalus/EHESS, 2013, Des femmes en action. L'individu et la fonction en Grèce antique, Hors Série, ⟨10.4000/books.editionsehess.2935⟩. ⟨halshs-02099848⟩

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