RealmgART: Red-Figure Bellona

Most Righteous Commandress.

Red-figure art of the Amazon Bellona.

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.”

Imperium“, in turn, means something like either “legitimate sanction to execute military or magisterial authority” or “the state’s military or political authority” — the concept of “Imperium Romanum” can validly be applied to the Republic.

Since Bellona is a Latin deity — her Greek equivalent is Enyo — I was unclear how to write the name in Greek letters. Notably, in modern Greek, beta is actually pronounced like an English V. The B sound comes from putting a mu and a pi together, so, for example, Greek Wikipedia has it written as Μπελλόνα – I think that’s because Bellona wouldn’t have been widely used as a word in Ancient Greek, so it’s treated as a modern word. All of the ancient names I looked up are spelled with a beta.

However, since these are meant to be ancient images and Ancient beta is pronounced like a B, I decided to spell it with a beta.

Red-figure art of the Amazon Bellona.

I had to rework the image of Bellona pretty significantly to make her actually look like she belongs on a red-figure vase, so now she’s less Byzantine Emperor and more Classical hoplite and maybe more than just a little bit like Athena — in fact, that she’s holding an image of the Amazon goddess Parthene is a reference to Athena usually holding a tiny Nike.

On the other hand, the sceptre and the crown are fairly universal symbols of authority.

I also reworked her emblems. Since Bellona’s big thing is having basically decentralised the Amazons and established the ten individual communities of the Decapolis. Hence, ten banners on the left.

On the right is a bundle of ten arrows. Thinking about it, I’m not sure the symbolism actually holds up, but it’s a reference to a fairly well-attested cross-cultural parable about either spears or arrows being tied together — basically, it’s easy to break one arrow but hard to break multiple arrows, so we’re stronger when we’re all in it together. I’m trying to get some sense of conveying the idea of the Amazons as an allied confederacy, but I don’t think I quite got it.

On the other hand, the arrows make sense, given that the Amazons of real-world mythology are associated with archery — incidentally, it’s generally held that the inspiration for the mythological Amazons were the Scythians living on the edges of the Greek world, who like most steppe nomads, were famously skilled at archery.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License button.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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