|Eva Green as Artemisia in 300: Rise of an Empire|
Who could be a better subject for 8th March, World Women's Day, than Artemisia. She was born in Halicarnassus, ie Bodrum and fought as an ally of Xerxes I, King of Persia, during the 2nd invasion of Greece. We hear a lot about her from Herodotus, a fellow Halicarnassian, and know that she led her own fleet and was not above a bit of tactical flag changing when necessary. At the battle of Salamis in 480 BCE, which she had advised Xerxes against, Artemisia's ship was about to be destroyed by an Athenian persuer so she rammed the ship of Damasithymos of Calyndos who was on her side. The Calyndian ship sank with all hands and the Athenian ship, seeing this, assumed Artemisia had changed sides and left her alone. She hadn't but Herodotus points out that she was not on good terms with Damasithymos so this could be one of history's earliest records of femail multi-tasking. Xerxes seeing the attack, assumed that she had sunk a Greek ship and was impressed, saying " My men have become women and my women, men."
I was about 2 minutes in when I had to look away - I don't think I've ever seen so much blood flying about on screen, all in slow motion. I persevered and worked out that I was watching the Battle of Marathon and the swash-buckling warrior cutting off heads and limbs willy-nilly was Thermistocles, but got very confused when he shot an arrow that killed King Darius of Persia, Xerses' father. Darius wasn't at the battle and died several years later of natural causes. It takes a lot of suspending of belief when the premise of the film is Xerxes' turning into a massive gold skinned god to avenge his father's death when Thermistocles had nothing to do with it. I listened to rather than watched some more and shouted at the screen a bit when Artemisia was given a completely false back story too, and then gave up. It's a shame as the story of Artemisia would make a terrific film and doesn't need Hollywood to rewrite her history.