After posting the the pictures of the Ten Most Worthy Women, I’m ready to get into the promised overly-detailed explanation of said pictures.
So, yeah, come for the pictures, stay to learn more than you’ve ever wanted to know about a group of fictional Elf women and maybe also something about real-world Greco-Roman history.
Kyniska — Lady of Cavaliers
Kyniska is modelled after an ancient Macedonian cavalryman, specifically as depicted in the Total War video games, though with a few fantastical touches. She is depicted with her team of champion horses, specifically four of them to reflect that the quadriga, the four-horse chariot was the most common racing chariot in Antiquity. She is also depicted with a champion’s laurel wreath.
Laurels have become the iconic image of victory in ancient competitions, but depending on the patron god of the games in question, different wreaths would be awarded as different plants were associated with different gods.
Of the Ten, Kyniska is probably the most obvious reference to a real person, specifically the Spartan princess of the same name (though the Wikipedia article does use a more Latinised spelling with C‘s instead of K‘s; the original Greek is “Κυνίσκα”).
Like the Amazon, the historical Kyniska was known for her champion horses. In fact, the historical Kyniska was an Olympic champion, this despite the notable handicap of women not being allowed to compete at, or even attend, the Ancient Olympics. The rule was that if your horses won the race, you were considered the champion. Hence, Kyniska was able to be considered the winner of a race she would not have even been allowed to watch.
Fulminata — Thundering Conqueress
The name Fulminata means something like “endowed with thunderbolts” and was the name of a Roman legion.
She is depicted in the armour of a triarius, one of the heavily-armoured veteran soldiers of the Roman Republican army. The triarii were the last line of the army and didn’t usually even engage with the enemy unless things started going real bad.
Thus, a situation that nearly ends in disaster was referred to as having “come down to the triarii”, one of my very favourite phrases that I legitimately try to use as often as possible — e.g., “Wow, I got my Pop-Tarts out of the toaster just in time to keep them from burning. That really came down to the triarii!”
Moving on, Fulminata is depicted with her vexillum, a military banner based on historical Roman designs (or at least modern recreations of them). Hers has thunderbolts (despite the obvious connection to her name, thunderbolts were also a common Roman military insignia in general) and an A for Amazones (i.e. “the Amazons”), and a golden phoenix, the Amazon equivalent of the Roman aquila. The Roman legions were extremely protective of their aquilae and to lose one in battle was considered a major disaster.
Finally, Fulminata is depicted with a gorgon’s head on her shield, a fairly common image on Classical shields, likely due to the association with the Aegis — either a breastplate or shield carried by Athena, upon which the head of Medusa was transposed after she was killed by Perseus.
I think the drawing of Fulminata is my favourite, and not just because I could get away with only drawing one hand for her.
Eudaimonia — Queen of the Wise
In Classical philosophy, “eudaimonia” is what philosophy is intended to achieve. The word is usually translated as “happiness”, though as one of my Profs was fond of telling us, they don’t mean it in the sense of the emotion.
The literal meaning is something like “good-spiritedness” (despite what another one of my Profs may have insisted) and a more helpful translation is probably something like “thriving” or “fulfillment”. A lot of current philosophers are starting to recognise that there isn’t really a good English word for it and just leave it untranslated, which has its own set of problems.
But that’s neither here nor there.
All that aside, it seemed like a pretty good name for Realmgard’s ultimate philosopher. She is depicted with two pages of a book which read “Knowledge is power” and is holding a set of scrolls, that are presumably full of all sorts of high-minded philosophical rhetoric.
There’s not really a lot of details to get into in terms of her design. The colour scheme of her clothes doesn’t really have any deep symbolism, it just looks good, though the things on the hem of her dress are supposed to be a meander (also known as the Greek key) pattern.
Lorica — Burning Hammer
“Lorica” is the Latin word for body armour. The most recognisable type of Roman armor is probably the lorica segmentata, which is pretty much the only armour Romans are ever depicted as wearing in Pop Culture regardless of historical accuracy. In real life it was only utilised from the first century BC to the third century AD. For reference, Rome was founded in 753 BC, the Western Roman Empire fell in AD 476, and, taken to the logical historical extreme, the Byzantines continued calling themselves Romans until 1453.
My original plan was to give all my Amazons names that were either weapons or armour, which is why Falcata is a kind of sword. I quickly learned, however, that there aren’t enough weapons and armour that make good names for an entire society. Either way, “Lorica” was a good name for the Amazons’ best blacksmith.
She is depicted at her anvil flanked by piles of the things she forged: a helmet, breastplate, and pair or gauntlets to the left of the image, and a shield, spear, and sword on the right.
I gave all the Ten two-word titles and I’m particularly proud of Lorica’s. As stated, “Malleus Ardens” means “Burning Hammer”, which is not only an awesome title for a blacksmith, but also a mostly-deliberate reference to Pro Wrestling.
The Burning Hammer is one of the most infamous moves in Pro Wrestling, associated with (but not, as I understand it, actually created by) legendary Japanese wrestler Kenta Kobashi. The Burning Hammer was presented as one of the most devastating wrestling moves ever, so much so that Kobashi only ever needed to resort to it a mere seven times.
Not surprising, given that it pretty much amounts to just straight-up dropping the other dude on his head.
But even without the connection to the Sport of Kings, odds are probably about even that I still would have called Realmgard’s most famous blacksmith the “burning hammer”.
Theophano — Broken Sword
“Theophano” means something like “divine manifestation” and comes from the same root as (and is more or less a synonym, at least in the most literal sense) as “epiphany“.
There’s no immediate connection between the name and her role in Amazon history (like, for example, how Lorica is a good name for a blacksmith, or Eudaimonia is for a philosopher). It’s just a Greek woman’s name that I happened to like.
She is holding the scales of justice and a broken sword, a symbol of mercy and forbearance, as seen for example, in the sword used in the coronation of British monarchs. Basically, what I’m going for is the idea that the development of a justice system meant that the Amazons no longer had to go around stabbing each other to resolve their conflicts.
She is standing next to a curule chair, utilised by Roman magistrates and signifying their imperium — it’s a complicated thing to explain, but it’s basically the legitimate right to exercise legal, political, and/or military authority (in Rome, there wouldn’t much of a distinction between those three things).
Her robe is sort of a combination between a peplos, the common clothing of Greek women in the Classical period, and a toga praetexta, a Roman’s magistrate’s robe marked with a purple stripe. Basically, it’s meant to further demonstrate her association with Amazon law and governance.
I could explain how decent women didn’t wear togas in Rome, so I therefore had to get creative with my drawing, but the real explanation is that this was much, much easier to draw than a full toga.
And, man, I nerded out way harder and thoroughly than I hoped. So, yeah, I think I’m going to break this into two parts.