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Griechische Kunst: Die Amazonen

Their marriage-law (Amazons) lays it down that no girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle. Sometimes it happens that a woman dies unmarried at an advanced age, having never been able in her whole lifetime to fulfil the condition. Herodotus, Histories

The amazing Amazons. The name Amazon is considered to come from “a” and “mazos” or “without a breast”, but I don't know any ancient sculpture or painting that shows the Amazons to cut off their right breasts in order to use the bow more easily. The Tapujan tribe of Indians in Brazil had also women warriors and the Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana named 1541/2 for this reason the river and the region Amazon.


Marble statue Metropolitan Museum, NY: wounded Amazon (Roman Copy, probably after Polykleitos or even Kresilas or Pheidias) c. 450-425 BC. More versions exist (Lansdowne (Sciarra) Amazon, Mattei Amazon, Sosikles Amazon,...). Some experts say that the Amazons used a dress which was so adapted to reveal her right breast. An explanation is given that this gave the woman warrior a greater flexibility to use her bow. In this sculpture it is more the left breast which is not covered. Maybe this was a left handed Amazon as her right breast is wounded. Her dress is short to allow here freedom in movement as a warrior. The dress of the "real" Amazons was of course different as can be seen in some vase paintings.



Reconstruction of the wounded Amazon


Heracles takes the girdle of the Amazon Hippolyte, here shown with the characteristic Amazon dress.

The figure of an Amazon, who has been wounded in the right breast. She leans upon a support at her left side and raises her right hand to her head in an attitude perhaps intended to suggest exhaustion, yet hardly suitable to the position of the wound. The attitude of the figure, especially the legs, is very like that of the Doryphorus, and the face is thought by many to show a family likeness to his. There are three other types of Amazon which seem to be connected with this one, but the mutual relations of the four types are too perplexing to be here discussed F.B. Tarbell

Salvador Dali, Woman with Egg and Arrows

Polyclitus a contemporary of Pheidias made a figure of an Amazon (wearing an exomis) for the Artemis Temple in Ephesus. In a competition with Pheidias, Cresilas, Cydon and Phradmon the judges considered his amazon as the best work with second Pheidias and then Cresilas, Cydon and Phradmon following.


A part of the Amazonomachy of the Mausoleum, an Amazon attacking a male warrior, probably a work of Scopas. According to Pliny the Elder Skopas was responsible for the sculptures of the East side, Leochares for the West side, Bryaxis for the North side and Timotheos for the South side of the Mausoleum. My colored version.


Wounded Amazon, Capitoline Museum

Amazon Capitolini MC1091

Amazon statue types

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