Themiscyra (Ancient Greek: Θεμίσκυρα, Themiskyra) was an ancient Greek town on the Themiscyra plain a little distance from the coast and near the mouth of the Thermodon (modern Terme River). It was, in legend, the home of the Amazons.
The town is mentioned as early as the time of Herodotus (iv. 86; comp. Scylax, p. 33; Paus. i. 2. § 1) who also mentions the Amazon female warriors from Themiscyra. Aeschylus, at Prometheus Bound, places the original home of the Amazons in the country about Lake Maeotis and they later moved to Themiscyra. According to Pseudo-Plutarch, the Amazons lived in and about the Tanais (Greek: Τάναϊς) river (modern Don river), formerly called the Amazonian or Amazon (Greek: Ἀμαζόνιος) river, because the Amazons bathed themselves therein and later they moved to Themiscyra. In addition, Strabo, in Geographica, mention that Themiscyra was the home of Amazons but later they were driven out of these places.
Ptolemy (v. 6 § 3) is undoubtedly mistaken in placing it further west, midway between the Iris (mod. Yeşil River) and Cape Heraclium. Scylax calls it a Greek town; but Diodorus (ii. 44) states that it was built by the founder of the kingdom of the Amazons. After the retreat of Mithridates VI from Cyzicus, Themiscyra was besieged by Lucullus. The inhabitants on that occasion defended themselves with great valor; and when their walls were undermined, they sent bears and other wild beasts, and even swarms of bees, against the workmen of Lucullus (Appian, Mithrid. 78). But notwithstanding their gallant defence, the town seems to have perished on that occasion, for Mela speaks of it as no longer existing (i. 19), and Strabo does not mention it at all. (Comp. Anon. Peripl. P. E. p. 11; Steph. B. s. v. Χαδισία.) Some suppose that the town of Terme (Therme), at the mouth of the Thermodon, marks the site of ancient Themiscyra; but Hamilton (Researches, i. p. 283) justly observes that it must have been situated a little further inland. Ruins of the place do not appear to exist, for those which Texier regards as indicating the site of Themiscyra, at a distance of two days' journey from the Halys (mod. Kızılırmak), on the borders of Galatia, cannot possibly have belonged to it, but are in all probability the remains of Tavium. The editors of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, place Themiscyra "at or near" Terme. At ancient times Themiscyra's bees were famous for their honey.
It was the home of the Amazons.
Also, Theseus visited it, there are two versions of this myth. At the first version he came together with Herakles and helped him capture the city, and at the second version Theseus led an expedition of his own to the area a later period than that of Herakles.
Argonauts passed by Themiscyra on their journey to Colchis. Zeus sent Boreas (the North Wind), and with his help the Argonauts stood out from the shore near Themiscyra where the Amazons were arming for battle.
Modern cultural references
- Sue Blundell Women in Ancient Greece -1995 p60 "For other ancient authors the Amazons, in spite of their separatist habits, were not immune to the lure of sexual desire. The fifth-century historian Herodotus recounts how some Amazons from Themiscyra who had been taken prisoner by a ..."
- THE AMAZONS IN GREEK LEGEND
- AESCHYLUS, PROMETHEUS BOUND
- Pseudo-Plutarch-XIV, TANAIS
- Strabo, Geography,Book XI, Chapter 5
- Richard Talbert, Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, (ISBN 0-691-03169-X), Map 87 & notes.
- Tobias Fischer-Hansen; Birte Poulsen (2009). From Artemis to Diana: The Goddess of Man and Beast. Museum Tusculanum Press. p. 333. ISBN 978-87-635-0788-2.
- "Themiscyra". Catholic Encyclopedia.
- Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), pp. 985-986
- Robin Hard (16 October 2003). The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology: Based on H.J. Rose's Handbook of Greek Mythology. Routledge. p. 357. ISBN 978-1-134-66406-1.
- Adrienne Mayor (22 September 2014). The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World. Princeton University Press. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-4008-6513-0.
- Michael Grant; John Hazel (2 August 2004). Who's Who in Classical Mythology. Routledge. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-1-134-50942-3.
- Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica: "Zeus once more sent forth Boreas (the North Wind), and with his help the Argonauts stood out from the curving shore where the Amazons of Themiscyra were arming for battle."
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.