Book Review: Women at War in the Classical World

Archives

by Paul Chrystal

Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2020. Pp. xxix, 250+. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $626.95 paper. ISBN: 1526781468

Women in War in Antiquity

Chrystal, author of numerous works in ancient history, women’s history, and military history, gives us an overview of the role of women in war in the Graeco-Roman world. It’s a bit hard to categorize. Chrystal’s primary interest is on historical instances of “woman as agents of military activity and war” (p. xiv) in cultures in which, despite Plato’s call to train women in arms, “war is man’s work” (p. 7), that is as political leaders, commanders, and warriors. But he also gives us looks at war goddesses and their importance to the military culture of the times, legendary women warriors such Semiramis and the Amazons, and the not at all legendary women of Tegea. He also gives us a look at the depiction of women and war as found in theatre, the arts, and even the gladiatorial arena, and women as victims of war.

Chrystal includes annotated “catalogues” of woman in these various roles, which not only helps illustrate how common the idea of women as warriors was, despite the cultural biases against them. One matter Chrystal fails to address, is the almost literally absence of actual historic women as warriors among were Roman, barring gladiatrices, in contrast to the Greeks and other cultures of the period.

Women at War in the Classical World is good read not only for students of Classical military history, but also for those interested in women and warfare, and for anyone seeking to understand the intersection of myth, legend, and history.

 

---///---

 

Note: Women at War in the Classical World is also available in several e-editions.

 

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


Buy it at Amazon.com




X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close