Sunday, June 21, 2015

Amasya - Amazon Queen

"Amasya - Amazon Queen", 22"x28", oil on linen (2015)
Who Were Amazons? Myth About One Breast.

"Everyone knows the story of how the Amazons cut off their right breasts so they wouldn't interfere with the use of the bow. Trouble is, the story is a crock--an old crock, but a crock nonetheless. This element of the Amazon myth was invented in the 5th century B.C. The poor Amazons had to start mutilating themselves because some big boob thoughtlessly dabbled in the dark art of etymology without the proper equipment. Hellanicus of Lesbos imagined the name was derived from the
Greek prefix a- ("without") and mazos, a variant of mastos ("breast"). He was surely wrong, but his folk etymology is still firmly embedded in the collective consciousness after more than two dozen centuries. There was no hint before his time, either in writing or art, that the Amazons had anything other than usual complement of breasts, so we can safely assume that the one-breasted image we have of them flowed from the (false) etymology and not vice versa.

This proposed "breastless" etymology was widely known in the ancient world after the 5th century B.C. but its supporters did not agree on its exact significance. Did the Amazons destroy one breast or both? Did they cut off the breast after it developed, or cauterize the area before puberty to prevent its growing? Was it done so the breast wouldn't impede drawing a bow or rather throwing a javelin? Or was it so the magical life-force of the breast would be diverted to making the arm stronger? The ancients couldn't agree on any of it. The most common explanation was that it was done so the breast wouldn't get in the way of drawing the bow, but the presence of the right breast doesn't seem to be an insuperable impediment to female archers today. Some have suggested "Monomazons" as a more appropriate name since (they believe) the women were one-breasted rather than breastless. This misses the point that the true origin of the name almost certainly had nothing to do with breasts. Even in ancient times, the "breastless" etymology was not universally accepted even if it was almost universally known. Even after the ideas of Hellanicus were widely disseminated, Amazons were always depicted with the standard number of breasts in art, such as paintings on vases known as amphorae."

"Now this is Hayk who begat Aramaneak...And Aramaneak begat many sons and daughters, of whom the eldest was Aramayis. And Aramayis begat many sons and daughters, of whome the eldest was Amasia. And Amasia begat many sons and daughters,of whom the eldest was Gelam. And Gelam begat many sons and daughters, of whom the eldest was Harmay . And Harmay begat many sons and daughers, of whom the eldest was Aram. And Aram begat many sons and daughers, of whom the eldest was Ara The Handsome". ( Movses Khorenatsi, V AD).

"Both Armenians and Phrygians had the same caps, but Armenians are depicted in early depictions wearing them."