Thursday, March 31, 2016

Women of History, Artemisia of Caria

Statue of Artemisia in Turkey

Today is the last day of Women's History month and to honor that I wanted to write a post about a powerful female figure from history, Queen Artemisia of Caria.

Artemisia was Queen of Halicarnassus and was a known warrior and ally to King Xerxes of Persia. Born sometime around the 5th century BCE, Artemisia was daughter to Lygdamis, King of Halicarnassus and her mother is unknown but said to have been of Cretan descent.

Artemisia commanded her own naval fleet at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. 

It is said that Xerxes asked all of his naval commanders if he should attack the Greeks in a naval war. All but Artemisia agreed that he should attack. Artemisia did not agree and advised Xerxes not to attack the Greeks. According to Herodotus, Xerxes appreciated her advice and admired her for her opinion although he decided against it and attacked the Greeks anyway.

Xerxes was defeated at the Battle of Salamis and feeling disheartened at his loss he once again seeks the advice of Artemisia.  

Which of course if he had taken her advice initially things might have turned out differently. She advises him to return home and abandon his campaign. This time he relents, takes her advice and returns home.

Artemisia was renowned for her cunning tactics and craftiness on the battlefield. 

She was known to fly the enemy's flag on her ship to confuse them into thinking that her ship was on their side. Most of Artemisia's story comes to us from Herodotus although still not much is known about her life. We do know that she did not die in battle, although there are a few different stories about her death. One in particular say that she flung herself off a cliff into the sea because of a broken heart. This seems unlikely for a conquering warrior woman but alas this is one of the stories.

Artemisia was known as a warrior, conqueror and commander. 

One of the many inspiring warrior women from history.

Do you have a warrior woman from history that inspires you?

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