Women warriors in literature and culture

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For other uses, see Warrior woman (disambiguation).
Main article: Amazons

The portrayal of women warriors in literature and popular culture is a subject of study in history, literary studies, film studies, folklore and mythology, gender studies, and cultural studies.

Folklore and mythology[edit]

Medieval women helping to defend the city from attack.

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 British mythology, Queen Cordelia fought off several contenders for her throne by personally leading the army in its battles.

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.[1][2]


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.

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.


Professor Sherrie Inness in Tough Girls: Women Warriors and Wonder Women in Popular Culture[3] and Frances Early and Kathleen Kennedy in Athena’s Daughters: Television’s New Women Warriors,[4] for example, focus on figures such as Xena, from the television series Xena: Warrior Princess or Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (who inspired the academic field Buffy Studies). In the introduction to their text, Early and Kennedy discuss what they describe as a link between the image of women warriors and girl power.[5]

See also[edit]

Related articles

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]