Amazons and Wonder Woman

You may have heard the wonderful story on Fresh Air earlier this week in which Terry Gross interviewed Jill Lepore about here book The Secret History of Wonder Woman, about WW’s creator William Moulton Marston (and his very unorthodox family arrangements). It was fascinating and weird. Listen to the podcast. Just in time for Halloween.

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Wonder Woman is an Amazon from an island of women who left ancient Greece to escape the enslavement of men. And they lived on Paradise Island and had eternal life. And a plane crashes on their island carrying a man — and Wonder Woman’s mother decides he needs to be brought back to where he came from because they can have no men on Paradise Island.

If you’re interested in what scholars think the legend of the Amazons was based on, I offer you this article in counterpoint. Stanford classics scholar Adreinne Mayor has also written a book, The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World.

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“Amazons were modeled on stories of self-confident women of steppe cultures who fought for glory and survival and enjoyed male companionship,” but, as Mayor puts it, “on terms that seemed extraordinary to the ancient Greeks.”

Mayor counters the popular modern translations of antianeirai as “opposites of men” or “against men,” pointing out that in ancient Greek epic diction, the word would more ordinarily translate to “equals of men.”

Make sure you read the whole story. “Amazon bosoms have their own chapter.”

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