The feminine gender holds a particularly important place in the myths of the ancient Greeks. They have been regarded so much so that they are immortalized through tales and feats which reverberate in modern society to this day.
In Greek mythology, we have seen enough references to the powerful male gods and accounts of historians going gaga over them. In this article, we will acknowledge the power of the goddesses and know more about them!
The Most Powerful and Fierce Women in Greek Mythology
We take a look at some of these women, Mortal, God, or of a more malignant nature.
She came into being at a period when the earth was dominated by immortal beings like the Gods and Titans. Even when the titan Prometheus created the human species, he only did so by placing males on earth. Hence she is revered as the first female human being.
Pandora is considered to be the first mortal human woman who had been crafted/created by Hephaestus on the orders of Zeus. This was ordered by Zeus as a punishment as Prometheus had disobeyed him and given the knowledge of the creation of fire to mankind.
Zeus was afraid that this power might one day be used to overthrow the Gods, and so in order to ruin the human race, he sent what he thought would be able to do it, a woman. But Pandora’s legacy was cemented by the fact that she was the one who allowed the human race to procreate and spread, and also with the fact that she was the one who opened the jar ( The tale of Pandora’s box) and let out all the evil onto the world.
She is considered to be the inspiration for Eve, who is the biblical equivalent of Pandora and who represents the sin of Humankind in some way or the other due to her actions. Nonetheless, Pandora is considered one of the pillars of humanity in Greek mythology.
The Pythia was the seer or an oracle who used to communicate with the God Apollo. This was more of a title than a single woman, but it was regarded as one of the most important occupations in ancient Greece, and it was reserved exclusively for women.
The young priestesses of Apollo used to train in order to become the oracle of Delphi. Delphi was considered to be the greatest city in the world where one could directly seek guidance from the Gods through direct communication through the oracle of Delphi. So the women who became the oracle were some of the most formidable figures in Greece of ancient times.
Evidence of the Oracles has been found anywhere between 1400 BC to around 380 BC. The Pythia was a very respectable position, and the women who attained the title were entitled to a variety of social benefits like freedom from taxation, the ability to own property, a salary, and also a place of accommodation provided by the state. This resulted in the title being a very sought profession in the eyes of many of the Greek women in those time periods.
3. The Amazon Tribe
They were a tribe of female warriors. They were skilled in combat, powerful and fierce women who were considered to be at least equal if not better than most male warriors in battle and status. They were popularly known to be the children or daughters of Ares, who was the God of war. One of the most famous and well-known Amazonians was Penthesilea, the daughter of Ares himself, who led the Amazons into battle in the Trojan war.
She fought the battle and was eventually felled by Achilles himself, who stated that she was one of the most competent warriors that he had ever encountered. The amazonian women were very fierce, so much so that it was said that they burnt off their right breast so that they would be able to throw a spear in battle. They despised men and only thought of them to be used for breeding purposes.
When some of the practices they performed were highlighted to them by Heros and the Gods of ancient Greece, they replied that it is not so different from the treatment which is meted out to women in different parts of Greece and the world. So they were just repaying the favor back to a Phallocentric society.
There is actual evidence that such a tribe of women actually existed, where there have been findings of graves with women buried in them with weapons and spears. The Amazonians were one of the most feared tribes of warriors, and the fact that they were a women-only tribe made the blood of any warrior opposing them in a battle run cold; it was truly a feat to behold, which cemented their legendary status in mythology and its modern-day outlook.
Abandoned at birth by her father because he desired a son and not a daughter, Atalanta was nursed by a She bear who had lost her cubs to hunters. As she grew up, she eschewed men, and the swift-footed Atalanta became an ardent follower of the Huntress God Artemis.
She was a master with the Bow and mastered the art of the hunt, and was directly linked to the God Artemis as her pristine follower. Her journey with the Argonauts as the only woman amongst them is well known.
Also, she participated in the hunt for the Calydonian boar. She was ridiculed by the men when she joined the band of hunters who comprised many famous figures from Greek mythology but proved herself by drawing first blood in the hunt with her archery. It is then that the men developed a respect for her seeing her prowess and her talent with her bow.
After the hunt, her father discovered her and started arranging for her marriage, but she proclaimed she would only marry someone who outran her in a race. Many heroes fell as the punishment for losing the race was death. Hippomenes managed to outrun Atalanta, but that was entirely due to the fact that he had to use trickery to get the better of her. All in all, Atalanta is regarded as one of the fiercest and most powerful mortal women in ancient Greece.
She is often considered to be a Sorceress and known to be the priestess of the Goddess Hecate. Her father was the sun god Helios. She is well known for her part in the Journey of the hero Jason and the Argonauts and the Golden fleece.
She is known to have healed Jason and aided him in the different tasks which had to be performed before he could obtain the Golden fleece. She aided him out of love. After he obtained the Golden fleece, the two fell in love and got married. But after 10 years, Jason abandoned her to marry Glauce, the daughter of a King.
In Greek history, Medea is regarded and looked at as a woman who was scorned. Abandoned by her husband for someone else, the wrath of Medea was terrifying. She murdered King Creon, And his daughter Glauce by sending her a dress laced with poison. She continued her rampage by killing her sons, which she mothered with Jason, going as far as not even to allow Jason to hold their bodies. Thus making him suffer and lose everything he had in life. Scholars viewed Medea as a vengeful being.
Even though she was hated by mortals for her deeds, her father Helios sent her a golden chariot, using which she moved to Thebes to escape the wrath of Jason.
She was a mortal woman, the daughter of a shepherd, who began weaving at a very young age. She was excellent at weaving and became vain with her skill and talent and even boasted that she was better than the Goddess Athena, and she refused to even acknowledge that some of her skill was directly descended to her from the Goddess herself.
This infuriated Athena, and she devised a plan to put Arachne in her place. She set up a contest between them and disguised herself as an old woman when she approached Arachne. She told her that Arachne should ask for forgiveness from the Goddess and that maybe Athena would spare her and not take any more offense.
Arachne dismissed this, and Athena showed herself in her simmering glory by removing her cloak. They then proceeded to compete in a competition where there were four competitions held between Mortals and Gods, which the Gods had devised to show the mortals their place for disrespecting the gods. Arachne weaved beautifully, and the art depicted the injustice of the Gods, especially those of Zeus, who had ruined the lives of mortals for his sadistic pleasures.
When Athena saw the art and realized that what Arachne had woven was better than what she had and that she had insulted the Gods in the process, she was livid and tore apart her woven work and hit her on the head thrice. Arachne, now afraid and shivering, hung herself.
Athena then had a moment of remorse and allowed her to continue living, but now in the form of a spider. Arachne had a terrible fate for simply showcasing her talent and not prostrating herself before narcissistic Gods, and her tale is now used as symbolism in a society where talented people and artists had to undergo persecution from people in power such as kings simply because they chose to not prostrate themselves.
Arachne is one mortal woman who stood up to the injustice of the Gods and got punished for it. The punishment is that she will now weave for an eternity as a cursed being, for being better than the rulers at an art, truly a sad end to a story of a talented woman.
What are your thoughts on these fierce women?
Also, we recommend reading the below interesting articles that will help you explore some popular Greek goddesses in much more detail.
- The goddess of earth, Gaea
- The goddess of harvest and farming, Demeter
- The goddess of peace, Eirene
- The goddesses of moon, Selene and Luna