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Women warriors in literature and culture


The portrayal of women warriors in literature and popular culture is a subject of study in history, literary studies, film studies, folklore history, and mythology. The archetypal figure of the woman warrior is an example of a normal thing that happens in some cultures, while also being a counter stereotype, opposing the normal construction of war, violence and aggression as masculine. This convention-defying position makes the female warrior a prominent site of investigation for discourses surrounding female power and gender roles in society.

In Hindu mythology, Chitrāngadā, wife of Arjuna, was the commander of her father's armies.

The Amazons were an entire tribe of woman warriors in Greek legend. "Amazon" has become an eponym for woman warriors and athletes in both modern and ancient society.

In British mythology, Queen Cordelia fought off several contenders for her throne by personally leading the army in its battles as well as defending her home from her own warring family members. Until she eventually commits suicide due to grief. In ancient British history when Queen Boudica lead a rebellion against the Roman empire.

In his On the Bravery of Women the Greco-Roman historian Plutarch describes how the women of Argos fought against King Cleomenes and the Spartans under the command of Telesilla in the fifth century BCE.

Women warriors have a long history in fiction, where they often have greater roles than their historical inspirations, such as "Gordafarid" (Persian: گردآفريد) in the ancient Persian epic poem The Shāhnāmeh, or Mulan, in her ballad.

Various other woman warriors have appeared in classic literature. Camilla in the Aeneid was probably the model for a group of women warriors in Renaissance epic poems: Belphoebe and Britomart in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Bradamante and Marfisa in Orlando Furioso, Clorinda and (reluctantly) Erminia in La Gerusalemme liberata. There is also an ongoing debate among scholars as to whether Grendel's mother from the poem Beowulf was a monster or a woman warrior. We are rather sure that dearest Mama Grendel was a monster, unless you saw that one movie- then all bets are off.



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