Amazon (ămˈəzŏn) [key], in Greek mythology, one of a tribe of warlike women who lived in Asia Minor. The Amazons had a matriarchal society, in which women fought and governed while men performed the household tasks. Each Amazon had to kill a man before she could marry, and all male children were either killed or maimed at birth. It was believed that the Amazons cut off one breast in order to shoot and throw spears more effectively. They were celebrated warriors, believed to have been the first to use cavalry, and their conquests were said to have included many parts of Asia Minor, Phrygia, Thrace, and Syria. Several of the finest Greek heroes proved their mettle against the Amazons: Hercules took the golden girdle of Ares from their queen Hippolyte; Theseus abducted Hippolyte's sister Antiope and then defeated a vengeful army of Amazons at Athens. A contingent of Amazons fought with the Trojans under Penthesilea.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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