Thalestris

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This article is about the Amazon queen. For the genus of plants, see Thalestris (genus).
An 18th-century Rococo painting of The Amazon Queen Thalestris in the Camp of Alexander the Great, by Johann Georg Platzer

According to the mythological Greek Alexander Romance, Queen Thalestris (Ancient Greek: Θάληστρις; fl. 334 BCE) of the Amazons brought 300 women to Alexander the Great, hoping to breed a race of children as strong and intelligent as he. According to the legend, she stayed with the Macedonian king for 13 days and nights in the hope that the great warrior would father a daughter by her.[1]

However, several of Alexander's biographers dispute the claim, including Plutarch, a highly regarded secondary source. He mentions 14 authors, some of whom believed the story (so Onesicritus, Cleitarchus), while others took it to be only fiction (so Aristobulus of Cassandreia, Chares of Mytilene, Ptolemy I of Egypt, Duris of Samos).[2]

In his writing Plutarch also makes mention of when Alexander's secondary naval commander, Onesicritus, was reading the Amazon passage of his Alexander history to King Lysimachus of Thrace who was on the original expedition, the king smiled at him and said "And where was I, then?"[3]

The story is rejected by modern scholars as legendary. Perhaps behind the legend lies the offering by a Scythian king of his daughter as a wife for Alexander, as the latter himself wrote in a letter to Antipater.[4]

Modern references[edit]

Thalestris is also the name of a character in Mary Renault's historical novel The King Must Die, set in the time of the mythological Theseus, who lived - if he existed at all - a thousand years or more before Alexander. The Thalestris character is depicted by Renault as a skilled Amazonian bull-dancer and valiant warrior - which is presumably why the writer gave her the name of an Amazon queen. There is also a brief reference to the courtship between Alexander and Thalestris in Beaumarchais' Le Mariage De Figaro'.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica 17.77.1-3; Quintus Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni 6.5.24-32; Justin 12.3.5-7
  2. ^ Plutarch, Alexander 46.1-2; compare Strabo, Geographica 11.5.4 p. 505
  3. ^ Plutarch, Alexander 46.4
  4. ^ Plutarch, Alexander 46.3