The name of a famous race of warrior women in Greek mythology. Medieval legend claimed they were, in origin, Goths who, under Marpesia, formed an army of women and travelled to Africa by way of the Caucasus.
It was only to be expected that they would surface from time to time in Arthurian romance. In the Italian I Due Tristani the queen of the Amazons forces herself by enchantment on Tristan, the son of Tristan and Isolde. Thus, Tristan the Younger later rescued their queen from the king of the Idumeans. They fought with Gawain and their queen was slain by the Cropeared Dog.
The Alliterative Morte Arthur says they were subjects of Arthur’s foe, Lucius. In Spenser’s poem The Faerie Queene their queen, Radigund, was killed by the warrior maiden Britomart. Finally, in Johnson’s Tom a’ Lincoln, an Amazon is briefly Tom a’ Lincoln’s lover.
Amazons | Myths and Legends
I Due Tristani | 1555
Alliterative Morte Arthure | c. 1400
The Faerie Queene | Edmund Spenser, 1570-1599
Tom a Lincolne | Richard Johnson, 1599-1607