Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Artemisia - Warrior Queen of Bodrum

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'd heard that there was a film about Artemisia so tracked down '300: Rise of an Empire' and sat down a couple of evening ago to enjoy a bit of history.

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. 


  1. I hate it when they do that

  2. . . un-rewritten history? Now, that really would be a novelty! There are so-called 'political historians' whose job it is to reform the historical narrative to fit the current political theme. The truth is, generally speaking, a terminological inexactitude that requires correction by these people. For the masses the film/tv industry fulfils that role.

  3. Never let it be said that the truth gets in the way of a good story!

  4. Hope this World Women's Day is a bit less bloody ...

  5. B to B, I don't know how you withstood as much as you did. At any rate, we attended a Women's Day brunch this morning on our island. Well-attended event. I just wish that these activities could translate into 365-day-per-year respect and equality for us gals.