The Most Important Females In Greek Mythology
It doesn’t take long to realise that the wonderful tales of ancient Greek mythology are dominated by male characters. The Greek heroes like Hercules or the Greek gods like Zeus and Poseidon are widely known. But great myths aren’t reserved to just one gender. Legend lives on in the people and the stories that inspire and captivate us. Whoever’s stories they may be.
If you choose to delve deeper, you will find several females in Greek mythology that made stand out contributions to the ancient world. They were brave, skilled and powerful women and these are some of their stories.
Atlanta was the daughter of Clymene and the Arcadian King, Ovid. There were rumours, however, that her father was the Greek god, Apollo. Unsurprising, as the Greek gods did have a sneaky habit of frequenting the marital bed, anyone’s but their own it seems. The male gods in particular had a ludicrously polygamous outlook on life, with Zeus being one of the worst Greek gods for this trait.
Ovid, whether her biological father or not, decided he had no use for a daughter and left her on a mountainside to die. Despite having a rocky start to life, Atlanta was raised and suckled by a bear that found her, and she went on to become a formidable hunter.
As fate would have it the Greek goddess Artemis had sent a boar to Calydon to wreak havoc on the city for forgetting to worship her. A hunting party was organised to kill the boar and release the city from its torment. Being one of the best hunters in existence, Atlanta asked to join the party. The men, appalled by this bold request, blatantly laughed in her face. But with the swift firing of three perfectly placed arrows she proved she was more than capable, and they agreed she could join.
It was because of Atlanta’s perfect aim that they were able to slay the boar. Her role in the hunt led her to be widely respected, making her one of the most important females in Greek mythology and proved that women really could do anything that men could!
Gaia was the Greek goddess of the Earth. She was quite possibly one of the most important females in Greek mythology because without her, there could be no one else. She was the primordial deity that succeeded all others at the dawn of creation. Gaia was the earth in all its physical forms, from the highest of mountains to the deepest of gorges, but she could also appear in a god-like form like any of the others.
She was the mother to the Titan Kronus who in turn fathered the Olympian Greek gods. The English prefix ‘geo’ derives from the Greek word Gaia, which means Earth. So even today, there is a little of Gaia in everything related to the Earth.
This one comes up in almost every important Greek myth and it’s also an important part of ancient Greek history. The Pythia, or the oracle of Delphi, was another one of the most important females in Greek mythology. She could channel the Greek god Apollo and her prophecies were incredibly important to the Greek people. They travelled far and wide to gain her advice on every aspect of their lives and future. There has been a recorded presence of various oracles at Delphi from as early as 1400 BC to 381 AD. You also can visit the very place she practised at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.
In the beginning, at a time when the Olympians were thriving, the Earth was only inhabited by the Greek gods, and other immortal beings. It was not until the Titan Prometheus that humans had a place on Earth. But even then, they were only male. Pandora was an important woman in Greek mythology as she was the first female mortal to be placed on the Earth!
However, the story of how she came about is a story of revenge. Prometheus had disobeyed Zeus by giving humans the power of fire. This was something Zeus refused to give to the mortals, thinking it would give them to power to one day overthrow the gods. To punish Prometheus, Zeus sent his precious human creations the one thing he thought could ruin their lives, a woman. Nonetheless, Pandora’s importance lies cemented in mythology as she allowed for the procreation of the human race.
The Amazons were a tribe of female warriors. These important females in Greek mythology were intelligent, fierce and incredibly powerful and they were considered ‘men’s equals’ as they were formidable fighters. The most notable Amazon woman was their queen, Penthesilea, who led them into battle to help fight in the Trojan war. Hippolyta, the sister of Penthesilea, was another well known Amazonian women and she was involved in one of Hercules labours.
We won’t deny, however, that there was a dark side to the Amazons (the mythical version that is). This darkness lies in the way that they created their strong Amazonian race. After a defeat the Amazon women were said to choose the men they thought fit to carry their children. After procreating, these men were no longer of use and were killed. Any male babies born were also killed, but the females were kept to be raised as warriors. When they were criticised for this, they simply pointed out that this was no worse than the cruel mistreatment of women that occurred frequently in the ancient world.
There have been archaeological findings that prove there really was a tribe of Amazonian women. This tribe was found in various parts of Eurasia. These warrior women were found buried with weapons such as arrows and spears. Some graves have also been found in Greece in Vergina, Macedonia.
- You’d probably heard of Heracles, but had you heard of these important females in Greek mythology?
Kia Ora. My name is Marcia Welch and I am a traveller from New Zealand. I have always dreamed of visiting and exploring Europe and have finally begun my overseas experience, or OE as we call it. I have always been drawn to the vibrancy and beauty that embodies Greece and I am excited to document and share my experiences. I am currently in Athens.