Myrina (Amazon Queen)
In his work Bibliotheca historica (Library of History), Diodorus Siculus wrote that the Amazons came from Libya in north Africa. Diodorus’s account is set in the time of myth. He wrote that the warriors’ most famous queen was
Myrina, who lived before the hero Perseus saved the Ethiopian princess Andromeda from a sea monster. Myrina led her warriors to a great number of victories, including one against the mythical island of Atlantis. Myrina led a large army of 30,000 foot-soldiers and 3,000 cavalry against the Atlanteans. Diodorus claimed that the Amazon cavalry used tactics similar to those employed by the Parthians of west Asia, who fought the Roman general Crassus (c. 115— 53 BCE), firing arrows as they rode away from their enemies. The Atlanteans eventually surrendered to Myrina after she had captured and destroyed one of their cities, enslaving and carrying away the women and the children.
It was during the reign of Myrina that the Amazons encountered another race of female warriors known as the Gorgons. The Amazons and their defeated neighbors, the Atlanteans, were at peace with each other, but Atlantis was raided repeatedly by the Gorgons, who lived nearby. In Greek myth, the Gorgons were monsters with snakes instead of hair and faces so fearsome that looking directly at them could turn a mortal into stone. Diodorus scoffed at these stories of monsters and claimed that, like the Amazons, the Gorgons were nothing more than fierce tribal women who were skilled in warfare. Myrina’s large army went to the aid of Atlantis and defeated the Gorgons, capturing more than 3,000 Gorgon warriors. The captive Gorgons began a rebellion but were put down by the Amazons, who killed every remaining prisoner.
Myrina was said to have conquered most of Libya, from where she led her army east toward Egypt. When she reached Egypt, she befriended the king before going on to defeat the Bedouin and Syrian peoples and conquering some of west Asia. Although the people of Cilicia (part of modern Turkey) were not defeated, they were willing to accept her rule. The Amazons also captured the island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea, where Myrina founded the city of Mitylene, named for her sister. While sailing across the Aegean, Myrina got caught in a storm. The queen prayed to the Mother Goddess to save her and was guided to a deserted island, which she named Samothrace. Myrina’s good fortune, however, did not last forever: she died in battle against the Thracians and Scythians, led by the Thracian Mopsos. Without their great leader, the Amazons lost a series of battles to Mopsos. Eventually their empire collapsed and they withdrew back to Libya.
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