So, in the interest of my
readers’ sanity brevity, I decided to break my look into the depictions of the Ten Most Worthy Women into two sections.
Sibylla — Mistress of Secrets
“Sibylla” is the Latin word (via the original Greek “Σίβυλλα”) for a female prophet or oracle and has come down to English in the word “sibyl“, which means, well, exactly the same thing. It’s also become a female name.
The most famous Ancient oracle is the Pythia, the oracle of Apollo at Delphi; there’s also a Delphic Sibyl, doing the same thing at the same place as the Pythia, but is a presumably legendary figure who predates the establishment of the role of the Pythia.
The sibyls play important roles in Roman mythology, particularly in the stories of Aeneas (a survivor of the Trojan War and legendary ancestor of the Romans) and subsequent early history of Rome. The most important of these was the Cumaean Sibyl, who aided Aeneas in his journey to settle Italy and whose prophecies were consulted at pivotal moments in Roman history.
Sibylla is depicted as a fairly typical Fantasy genre wizard, though modelled (poorly) after a painting of the Cumaean Sibyl to make the mythological inspiration clear. She has a pile of the magicological books that she wrote with her, along with a wizard hat just to make the association with magic painfully obvious.
As mentioned, Sibylla is Fulminata’s sister, so she is depicted with the same hair, eye, and skin colour.
Thalatta — Errant Soul
“Thalatta” is the Attic form of the Greek word for “sea” — in other forms of Ancient Greek the pronunciation is “thalassa”, with s’s (technically sigmas) instead of t‘s (technically taus). A good name for a sailor, and maybe just a little too on the nose.
Thalatta probably has the most anachronistic appearance of the Ten. If the Amazons, especially the Ten, are supposed to be Classically Greco-Roman, she ends up looking more like a Golden Age pirate than an ancient pirate. I was aware of this and decided it didn’t matter.
Plenty of depictions of historical figures are deliberately anachronistic to cater to the artistic styles of the times — medieval depictions of King Arthur (likely not a historical figure, but inspired by figures from around the fifth and sixth centuries AD) and even the Trojan War (traditionally dated to 1184 BC) have characters wearing full-on Late Medieval plate armour and jousting (popular from the 11th to 17th centuries) at the each other. And, of course, most artwork of Biblical figures has them looking like Renaissance-era Italians.
Which is why Thalatta is depicted with a modern ship’s wheel and anchor. That’s really the most straightforward iconography to convey “sailor”.
She’s also got her flag with her, which depicts a mythological creature called a hippocampus, basically a literal Sea-Horse. Again, that kind of flag is probably something more appropriate for a Golden Age pirate (and overblown by Pop Culture in general), but, hey, it’s meant to be a depiction from centuries after the fact, and it’s a Fantasy world. It doesn’t have to be historical, it just needs to be cool.
Galea — Daughter of Learning
There’s no real connection between her name and her historical function, expect maybe the not completely illogical thought process of “smart, brain, head, helmet”. It was an attempt to cling to the idea of Amazons being named for weapons and armour I mentioned earlier.
Galea is an educator, so she’s holding a quill and book. She’s also got an owl, associated with wisdom and intelligence directly, and in their capacity as the sacred animal of Athena — fun fact, the Athenian army would charge into battle hooting like owls.
She’s also also standing next to a wolf, which makes sense in a roundabout way. Aristotle’s school was called the Lyceum, named for Apollo, specifically his association with wolves (lykos in Greek). Again, it’s kind of a laboured association (“learning, school, lyceum is a kind of school, lyceum comes from ‘wolf'”), but it’s not completely unreasonable.
Like with Fulminata and Sibylla being sisters, Galea is Eudaimonia’s daughter, so she has the same hair, skin, and eyes.
Eurydice — Best Artist
“Eurydice” is another fairly roundabout mythological reference.
Etymologically, it means something like “broad justice”, but that’s not important.
The reference is to Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus. Orpheus was basically Greek mythology’s greatest musician and poet. He was famously unable to guide Eurydice back from the underworld after she died prematurely. On a marginally lighter note, they were apparently reunited after his own death.
Fundamentally, this Eurydice has the mythological Eurydice’s name and Orpheus’ talent.
I still don’t consider myself very good at drawing, but I am definitely getting better at laying out poses for my characters. Eurydice not only has the most involved, active pose of my drawings of the Ten, but I think she might have the most dynamic pose I’ve ever managed to draw period.
As an aside, I really hate drawing hands.
Eurydice is dancing and playing a flute and is depicted beside a harp and comedy and tragedy masks to represent her artistic talents.
Bellona — Most Righteous Commander
Bellona is the name of a Roman war goddess associated both with valorous deeds and sowing terror among the enemy.
“Imperatrix” is the feminine form of “Imperator“, which is the word that gets translated as “Emperor”. Conceptually, it’s a bit more complicated than it. Literally, it means something like “person who holds imperium”, a Roman concept I tried to explain when taking about Theophano. People other than the Emperor could be considered an imperator — generals leading their armies, for example.
However “Imperatrix” can or should be translated, the depiction of Bellona is meant to at least invoke historical Emperors. She is wearing purple robe, purple being associated with Roman and Byzantine Emperors (and their children). Though the historical colour actually used by them is redder than what Bellona is wearing, and, incidentally, made from crushed snails.
She is wearing a golden version of the leaf crown Roman Emperors are commonly depicted as wearing, and holding an orb and sceptre (topped with that is supposed to be a phoenix), common parts of the royal regalia of historical monarchs. Both are meant as symbols of rulership and authority, both in real life and in the picture.
Bellona is standing between two sets of five banners, arranged in V‘s to represent the Roman numeral for 5 — Realmgard Elves being Roman, it follow they would use Roman numerals, at least historically. This is meant to represent her role in establishing the ten cities of the Amazon Decapolis after relinquishing her queenly authority.
And there you have it: the ten best Amazons, and about eight million words to explain them.
Pretty cool, yeah?