It would seem that the mythical race of Amazon warrior women would be a feminist’s ideal. Well, perhaps too militantly feminist, insomuch as, as legend has it, the Amazon warriors were notorious man-haters. Whether or not fierce Amazon warriors ever actually existed is a matter of speculation and debate; however, geological digs seem to confirm that Amazon warriors have existed, indeed.
According to Greek legend, the Amazons were fierce and accomplished warrior women who would have nothing to do with men, except for mating with them once a year so as to prevent their race from dying out. Homer’s epic The Iliad and the Odyssey relates how the Amazons participated in the battle of Troy during which the great Amazon queen Penthesilia was killed by Achilles who immediately mourned her death, having, apparently, become enamored with her dead body.
One of Penthesilia generals Cleite (or Clete) is blown off course en route to Troy and is forced to settle on a strange land that has come to bear her name. This unwritten adventure is the setting for my short story, “Swift was her Steed and Proudly She Rode it.”
Below is an extract of this story, which begins at the end of a bloody battle between the Amazons, led by Cleite, and their male adversaries. The full text can be found in my collection of historical erotica, entitled, Tales of Sex and Love.
For those who like to pen erotic literature, feel free to post extracts in the new, Erotic Literature Forum. Happy writing to one and all!
Statuesque against the declining sun, mounted majestically on an ivory steed, she looked on at her bloodied feline cohort and the spoils of battle. Having reduced the Greek battalion to lifeless pulp, they took their male adversaries’ gold, their horses, their weapons of war, and their emasculated pride. After the kill, those under Cleite’s command who could walk circled around her while she remained stolidly horsed. Her wearied troops, breathing heavily the air of victory, panting from fatigue, of strained limb and of parched tongue they listened.
“Fellow warriors, stalwart combatants, fearless friends in arms, today we have achieved a great victory against our sworn and embittered enemy. We have shown through strength and valor that we can do anything a man can do and that we can be as lethal as a hungry serpent that stings its prey. Daughters of Thrace, our sword and lance are our limbs, our shield and breastplates: our garments, and our arrows: our word. Let us then raise sword, bow, and spear to the sky in one united cry of victory!”
The Amazon cohort raised the victory cry, exalting Queen Penthesilia and hailing their general, Cleite, who gleamed with pride as she perused her fallen, dying, and blood-stained comrades.
“To have the blood of a man on one’s breastplate is not a bad thing,” cried Alkaia. “Let’s us tarry not to finish looting this lot before the vultures grow too impatient,” cried Molpadia. “Let’s make eunuchs out of those who are not yet dead,” shrieked Androdaira, “and serve their cullions to the dogs, dogs that they are …that all men are!”
“Finish stripping them of what is ours through the glorious honor of hard fought battle and be done with it,” interjected Cleite “Leave their cullions and their eyes that will never see home again to the vultures and let us be off.”
As the carrion circled overhead, the last vestiges of anything worth taking were stripped from the men. Those still groaning with the last pangs of suffering life were quickly dispatched with a sword through the throat or through the heart. Bodies of men and women were strewn indiscriminately throughout the blood-soaked ground. Should the body of one of the Sisters-in-arms, as the Amazons called themselves, happen to expire upon a slain male adversary, or should her corpse touch her enemy’s by so much as a hair’s breadth, the body was quickly pulled away to obviate such an ignominious desecration.
Cleite bid her wearied combatants onward as she proudly pranced among the foot soldiers, astride her noble steed. What was left of her cavalry formed the outer flanks of the long march towards the sea town of Xianappe. Cleite had given orders that her embattled troops would march on another five leagues before pitching camp. Onward trudged the rag-tag cohort, wearied of body, but exhilarated of mind, which made the trek both long and short. Two-hundred and three female warriors survived to continue their odyssey and to draw their sword or axe once again against the breast of men. Finally, they reached the fishing village of Xianappe. They slipped through the town that was quiet and asleep, and they pitched camp at the edge of the sea. The splashing waves soothed their restless souls and the sounds of the night lulled them to a peaceful sleep.
Bremusa sounded the morning revelry and dutifully the bellicose legion rose and packed their gear. Most shed their clothes and bathed in the sea to cleanse themselves of blood, sweat and dirt. They laughed and sported in their nakedness, splashing each other gleefully; they embraced and wrestled and even kissed with mirthful mouth and agile tongue.
With renewed vigor upon her horse, Cleite oversaw the exodus of her warriors towards the place where three ships would take them to Troy. It was just a two-hour trek along the peaceful shoreline to where their destiny awaited them. The sounds of the seagulls overhead lulled them into a sense of tranquility as their feet sunk in the soft sand.
At last they reached the ships, which lay moored and ready for them under the watchful eye of their allied tribes. And what ships of war, they were! Cleite’s clan stood open-mouthed in sheer amazement, at the sheer size of these vessels, which measured about 40 by 20 cubits as they greeted each other with wild hugs and kisses. The victors of battle described vaunted their victory and spared no gory detail of the men they slew. A tall warrior woman of bronze complexion and long-braided black hair approached Cleite and embraced her. All gathered around the ships to hear Cleite speak.
“Sisters in arms, loyal cohorts, fierce and fearless warriors, our great victory of yesterday will pale as a flame to the sun when we march valiantly into Troy and liberate her with the blood of its citizens of infamy. Yes, we will ally ourselves with the Greeks and for once fight along side men, but this be but a necessary and brief truce. Once we have assured our victory, we will take our rightful spoils and leave the men to their world whilst we return to ours in glory and honor!”
To this, there was a tumultuous roar of approval from the tattered army. Cleite raised her head high to the heavens in pride while she raised her right fist into the air in a gesture of power. Her eye glowed in the morning sun like coals of fire. Her voice resonated, as it always did, with passion and conviction; it was as soothing as the sirens and assuaged all doubts and fears. She announced that she would command one of the ships and Alkaia and Moldavia would each command the two others. The Amazon cohort was split up into three groups and to their assigned ships they went for the four day journey to Troy. The sails were rigged, the provisions stored, the jubilant crew members boarded their assigned ships, and the three ships set sail in unison. Moldavia, being the most experienced sailor, led the three vessels in triangle formation with Cleite to the left and Ainia, forming the starboard flank. They were to rendezvous with nine other Amazon ships bound for Troy.
A long with provisions for a fortnight, twelve horses were taken aboard Cleite’s ship, not the least of which was Pyrrhos, Cleite’s noble white stallion.
The seas were calm for the first two days of the voyage and the spirits were high. By light of day, the women manned their oars with determined fury and engaged in many on deck fighting drills against one another. At night, by moonlight, the Amazons drank wine and sang and danced to their own peculiar corybantic music. But on the third night, just before sundown, a violent storm set in from the West. Fierce gales and tempestuous rain pelted the ship and crew. Heavy thunder boomed like canons of war and vicious streaks of lightening splintered the darkness with sudden, brilliant light. The horses neighed loudly and lurched frantically against the ropes which tethered them to the ship rails, and far greater fear was struck in the entrails of the Amazons then the bloody battles to which they were accustomed, for neither sword nor javelin could do aught to protect them.
Cleite roared out commands to unfurl the sails lest they be torn to shreds by the unrelenting winds. There was a mad clamber up the mastheads of a dozen sailors; two were tossed into the sea as the ship lurched to the left, several others were shrugged off to the ships deck where they flailed in the agony of broken bones.
As the winds battered the ship with increasing ferocity, Cleite ordered that she be steered due East in the hope of circumnavigating the storm. Here, she raised up her arms to the heavens, calling out in a loud voice:
“Almighty Poseidon, deliver us from these raging winds and savage seas and let every noble soul set foot, safely on dry land.”
The oarswomen strained in vain against the violent surging waves as the ship pitched up and down like a toy. The crew tried to steer a straight course, but the vessel was at the mercy of the wind.
Slowly, the storm abated and by morning all was calm again. Cleite stood on the deck of the ship, her right hand hooked around the masthead for support, as she peered into the distance in every direction. The other ships were not within the ken of sight. They were surely separated and lost, left to their own sort, a floating bark in the open vastness. Quickly, Cleite summoned her chieftains and best navigators and held brief council with them as to where they were and how to rectify their course. Cleite was advised to set the oars in rigorous motion north-eastward, to which she replied:
“No, I will not have our already limb-ravaged crew fight Poseidon’s mighty arm and force our way against the tide of nature. For the battles against man, over which we’ve triumphed, is not as fearful or as uncertain as the battle we would wage against this restless sea. We’ll let gentler gales blow us where she will. There will be land soon enough and food to fill our bellies. Once ashore, on alien soil, we shall re-provision ourselves and set sail again when Poseidon’s breaths blow in a more favorable direction, and, in so doing, spare our weary limbs. Needs might be that we vouchsafe to befriend the men folk of our brief island prison to show us the way to Troy, if we find some, learned in navigation.”
Having voiced her decision, which none dared challenge, Cleite sent her council members to their oars and bid her crew to row as fast as it could in the direction of the wind. The stalwart warriors rowed with all the strength they could muster. As the rowers were relieved for short respite, they examined their blistered hands and massaged their sore arms. Conversation was reduced to a few chance utterances and grim curses. Finally, just before sunset, they were in sight of land! All rejoiced, emitting piercing cries of joy. They set anchor a few cubits from the shore and waded into the water, carrying their weapons and gear on their weary backs. Too tired to pitch camp or light a fire, they slept where they dropped and were soon deep in sleep until dawn.