A veil of mystery in the form of mystic stories, anec- dotes, legends and poetry surround
one of the most intriguing people of the ancient world, the Amazons. Though they have
not left any written testimonies, they were present in the lores of historians
over and over again. Some scientists think
that the legends of the Amazons are based on early lores about a small Asian
region (Pontus), in which Greeks have met matriarchal ruled people and were
involved in battles. The myths tell us that these women were able to live
without men. In battle they offered resistance successfully and were even
able to defeat the men. Heracles
in battle with Amazons
They were known as fearless
and dignified women warriors, who guarded their wounded comrades under the risk
of their own lives. The most famous Greek heroes such as Heracles, Achilleus and Thesus struggeled with, and sometimes defeated the Amazons. In the Greek classical period, the
myths of the Amazons were a beloved motive for all famous artists. There were a
lot of pictures with Amazons, particularly in battles with well- known Greek warriors on clay pottery and as sculptures. In some former regions of Greece there was even a religious influenced Amazon cult. An Amazon guards a wounded comrade
According to the legend, Amazons have founded the cult of Artemis in Ephesus. The Roman author Pliny ( 23 - 79 A. D. ) has reported in his book 34 (natural history) about a competition between five high esteemed sculptors of the clas- sical period: Polykleitos, Phidias, Kresilas, Kydon and Phradmon, which were asked to make a statue of a wounded Amazon for the sanctuary of Artemis in Ephesus. After they had finished their work, each of them had to decide which one of the five was the best.
Polykleitos: Amazon "Sciarra"
Each of the 5 sculptors made a wounded Amazon for the competition; the
works of Polykleitos, Phidias and Kresilas have been preserved as antique fragmentary copies, most made in stone (marble) . Until today three types of Amazons
are known. For more than 100 years all possible classifications have been
discussed lively, with always the same
unsatisfying result. The most important question, the "Meisterfrage" is:
Who has made what type of Amazon?
That will probably stay an endless discussion without a common result.
Phidias: Amazon "Sosikles"
In classical times all five of the
original created bronze statues stood in the sanctuary of Artemis in Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor.
All of the three
known types show a wounded standing female: type Sciarra dressed in military "exom", type Sosikles in a military short chiton and himation and type Mattei in a chiton, all with one naked breast.