Antiope: The Rogue Amazon
Today we are going to meet Antiope. There are a few mythological women by this name, but the one we are looking at was the Amazon.
Who was Antiope?
Antiope (sometimes spelled Antiopa) was a woman of the Amazon race. She was the daughter of Ares, and her mother was perhaps Otrera. She would have had siblings, perhaps Penthesilea, Hippolyte, and Melanippe. Her sisters were Amazonian queens, so we can infer that she held an important role.
Why do you call her a ‘rogue’ amazon?
She is the only Amazon that we know to have gotten married. Her husband was Theseus – yes, that Theseus, who slew the minotaur.
How did she meet Theseus?
Well, there are conflicting stories, but they start the same way: Theseus was accompanying Heracles on his journey to get Hippolyta’s girdle. While in the neighbourhood, he met Antiope. According to Pseudo-Apollodorus, Hyginus and Diodorus Siculus, the men abducted Antiope and took her back to Athens. Pausanias is the dissenter in this regard, and says that she fell in love with Theseus and betrayed the Amazons and followed after him.
And they got married?
Yeah, and had a son, Hippolytus, named after Antiope’s sister (or at least the Amazon was the boy’s namesake).
Then everyone was happy?
You forget this is part of the amazonomachy! The Attic War follows soon after, when the Amazons attack Athens to try and get back the girdle, and presumably Antiope, too. Plutarch tells us that in this battle Antiope was killed accidentally by an Amazon, and then Theseus killed her. Pausanias identified their tombs in his writing.
However, Ovid and Hyginus tell a different tale, which likewise doesn’t end well for Antiope. Theseus turned his attentions towards Phaedra, and intended to marry her instead. Antiope wasn’t here for that and planned to kill all in attendance on their wedding day. But Theseus found out and killed her instead.
That’s a lot of conflicting stories.
Well, the amazonomachy is a rather patchy area. The writers each added their own twists to the legend, and some disagree on large issues. It’s debatable whether these things even happened to Antiope at all, and not another Amazon, or one of her sisters. It’s easiest to just accept that all versions have their own legitimacy.
And what about their son?
You might remember this Hippolytus for his role in a number of plays, including one named after him, and Phaedra. He rejected the advances of his stepmother Phaedra, who then told his father that he had raped her. Theseus used a wish given to him by Poseidon to curse his son, who was killed in one of many interesting reported ways.
Hippolytus has some links to Artemis as well, with suggestions that he dedicated himself to chastity and hunting; this being one of the reasons (of many, I’m sure) that he was very uninterested in his stepmother’s advances.
And so ends the line of Antiope!
Next week we’re going to look at Callisto! And as always, you can check out the previous Classical ladies in the meantime: