by Guy Cadogan Rothery
Francis Griffiths; London 
Scanned at sacred-texts.com, December, 2003. J. B. Hare, redactor. This text is in the public domain. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact.
CHAP. I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. INTRODUCTORY THE AMAZONS OF ANTIQUITY THE AMAZONSOF ANTIQUITY--(continued) AMAZONS IN FAR ASIA MODERN AMAZONS OF THE CAUCASUS AMAZONS OF EUROPE AMAZONS OF AFRICA AMAZONS OF AMERICA THE AMAZON STONES CONCLUSION PAGE 1 23 48 62 85 95 109 139 164 177
NEVER, perhaps, has the alchemy of Greek genius been more potent than in the matter of the Amazonian myth. It has bestowed a charm on the whole amazingstory which has been most prolific in its results; but, unfortunately, by tending to confine it to the narrow vistas of poetry, the intensely interesting psychological aspect has been somewhat obscured. Yet to us the chief value of this myth is due rather to the insight it affords into the mental workings of primitive races, the attitude of man towards that which he dreads but does not fullycomprehend, than to the influence of Hellenic art and literature, fruitful in beautiful and humanising manifestations though that influence has been. The Greek spirit, indeed, working upon a crude collection of stories, took the sting, out of the lessons they should have taught. For, as we shall endeavour to show, the message of the myth to a people struggling towards a higher civilisation to beware ofbarbarians
their ways, was softened to an attitude of admiration before physical beauty and courage, and a tender pity for woman, fomenter of strife though she might be. We may unhesitatingly sweep away the story of the unnatural state about which so many Greek poets and historians entertain us. But while relegating the Amazonian state to the realms of imagination, we mustrecognise the Amazon herself as a not insignificant historic fact--a fact, indeed, of sufficient moment to have peopled a whole world of fiction, real enough to its original creators, and whose force is hardly spent even now. Etymology will not help us much, though it has been relied upon by controversialists. Any argument founded on the descriptive nature of the word, or on its somewhat suspiciousmany-sidedness, must prove a double-edged weapon, as likely to injure the wielder as his opponent. Besides the obvious "breastless" (a-mazon) and "moon" (maza), we are offered a choice of a variety of interpretations conveying to us such meanings as "vestals," "girdle-bearers," and other synonyms, also "game eaters" and "eaters of strong foods." But after all the word is hybrid Greek, not a nativename, and may be classed as a nickname, itself much younger than the supposed state; and then, naturally, it would be as comprehensively descriptive as the ingenuity of man could devise. We may, therefore, leave the etymologists to the labyrinthine twistings of their own wordy warfare. The tale begins rationally enough with the perfectly familiar incident in the life-history of so many nations, theexpulsion of a surplus growth of
population and its emigration to new fields. In this case we have reference to a cabal against two youthful Scythian princes, who, being ordered into exile, carry with them a whole horde of followers--men, women, and children. There is the story of their settling down, of their casting off of the old Scythian simplicity before a growing desire for riches,which leads to conquest and ultimately to their undoing--the men being mostly massacred by their enraged neighbours. Then comes the extraordinary violent rage of the widows and orphans, first against the slayers of their husbands and fathers, and later against men in general, this aversion bringing about the founding of a state that is to be manless, the women throwing aside their girdles, that...