Amazonomachy: The Art of Progress

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by W.F. Price on January 4, 2010

A number of The Spearhead’s readers are fans of classical art, philosophy and history, as am I, so I thought I’d bring one of ancient Greece’s most popular art genres to attention. Amazonomachy is rooted in myth, but was highly symbolic and relevant to classical Greek society. The main myths portrayed were Herakles’ labors, one of which was to retrieve Amazon queen Hippolyta’s girdle, and Theseus’ seizure of the queen for his concubine. Both of these mythical events sparked battles with the warlike Amazon women, leading to great carnage and Greek victory. Theseus, who according to legend founded Athens, impregnated Hippolyta, who bore him a son he named Hippolytus. When Hippolyta fell out of favor with Theseus, his next wife, Phaedra, eventually fell in love with her son Hippolytus, who rejected her advances. Scorned, Phaedra falsely accused Hippolytus of rape, leading to his death at the wish of his father. It is fascinating to see how the Greeks covered the gender issues that plague us today thousands of years ago in their art.

Symbolically, Amazonomachy was important for its illumination of the Greek ideal of civilization. The Amazons represented savagery and darkness, and the Greeks the light of reason and human progress. There may have been an ethnic component to the depictions of struggles as well; the Amazons are conjectured to be derived from Indo-Iranian tribes such as the Scythians, who were frequently enemies of the Greeks. In fact, some Amazonomachies depict them in Scythian dress, and recent archaeological finds indicate that many Scythian women did, in fact, participate in warfare.

Whatever the origin of the Amazon myth, it played an important role in the Greeks’ view of themselves as a civilized people struggling against benighted barbarian hordes. It also highlights some stark cultural differences between the ancient Greeks and ourselves.

In recent years, art and popular culture in the West has increasingly portrayed women as aggressors and warriors of one sort or another. Although this was almost unthinkable when Americans were actually fighting major wars, violence and aggression perpetrated by women has come to be rather commonly depicted in film, graphic art and popular music. Despite the supposedly more egalitarian nature of this new role, in the vast majority of cases the women are both the victors and the sympathetic parties. There are very few incidents in which violence against women is shown as justified, and these are all, almost without fail, between women. Almost every single time a woman attacks a man he is the bad guy, and she wins in the end in one way or the other.

The Greeks saw it differently. Defeating the Amazons was glorious. An Amazonomachy was even depicted on Athena Parthenos’ shield at Athens’ holiest site, and various examples were found at some of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.

For most men there is a visceral reaction to violence against women. Protecting women against harm is a natural sentiment, but for some reason the Greeks portrayed the gender wars in physical terms. Could it be because, for the Greeks, physical art was the pinnacle of expression of our nature?

I think so.

Greek artists and thinkers understood that there was, and always has been, a power struggle between the sexes. Men and women complement each other, of course, but doesn’t the deer complement the mountain lion, and doesn’t the sheep complement the wolf? Biology is not a simple matter of cooperation, even within species. It would be stupid to think of it as such, and the Greeks made a conscious decision to prioritize civilization over the barbarism of matriarchy. Nothing better illustrated that concept at the time than the Amazonomachies.

The ancient Greeks were strugging against societies that saw them as fanatics. The supine potentates of surrounding states must have asked: “Who are these men to demand rights and a voice over their rulers? Surely, they should bow down to kings and queens, and relinquish this odd concept of manhood.” But they stood their ground, defining their struggle according to what appeared before their eyes.

Despite the misappropriation of the term “progressive” in contemporary America resulting in a warped concept of human progress, surely an irony befitting ancient Babylon, progress was at one time a desperate effort, and the Greeks fought against great odds to leave us with the blueprint upon which we built modern civilization.

If, like today’s simpering politicians, Greek men had bowed down before their wives and sisters, debasing themselves and squandering their efforts in order to appease the mother goddess, we would have been left with none of the marble pillars of civilization, but rather the misshapen mud huts of matriarchy.

In this spirit, we should celebrate the victories over the wanton Amazon women. Each stroke of sword and thrust of spear into the defiant, struggling Amazon warriors was another step in the construction of a better way of life. As Theseus plucked Hippolyta from the midst of a frenzied horde of howling women, carrying her off as a reluctant trophy, it was as though he were a fisherman hauling an ignorant mass of savages ashore. Thus was Athens, the seed of Western civilization, planted in victory in the heaving womb of barbary.

Today, as rockets burst forth from a speechless earth, as marvels of medicine save the lives of otherwise lost victims, and as we unlock the mysteries of the cosmos, we still resort to the language and thought of the few brave men of ancient Greece, reaching back to that indomitable spirit that subjugated even the Amazons, those women who still clamor and press up against us in spirit in an effort to shove us back into the abyss of darkness. If we give in and relinquish our patrimony, we have failed our forefathers, and don’t deserve to be called men.

Next in series: Male Spirituality as exemplified by the Hebrew prophets.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 4, 2010 at 06:36

Any argument about our nature must explain why we do things not in our nature. Thus invalidating any argument about our nature that does not include doing things not in our nature. Thus invalidating any argument about out nature.

What is and what ought to be remain distinct.

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InternetWood January 4, 2010 at 06:57

It is relevant to point out here that Greek civilization fell because of active betrayal by it’s most matriarchal city-state.

http://www.livius.org/pb-pem/peloponnesian_war/war_t11.html

Greece fell because the Spartan’s let the Persians in. It’s interesting to note that while Sparta struggled to destroy Greece, Athens was trying to build a Greek Empire in Italy. The Zero-Sum mindset vs. the Everybody Wins mindset.

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Paul January 4, 2010 at 08:20

I for one would never argue against sticking spears or indeed spearheads in to women. I agree with Welmer that the art of a society says a lot about that’s societies state of mind. What is depicted does not have to be actual, it is what it reveals about the way of thinking that matters.

I am sure you noticed this Welmer but in all the images above the men are naked and the women clothed. I don’t think men would have fought in the nude. What significance do you think this has?

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Snark January 4, 2010 at 08:29

Paul,

I believe it is because Ancient Greek societies venerated the male body – completely the opposite of today, where the male body is treated as a joke. They did not fight in the nude, but were usually depicted as such.

Though, I am by NO means an expert in this field … this is just one of those facts I picked up and found interesting enough to remember.

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Jabherwochie January 4, 2010 at 08:37

“””” Anonymous January 4, 2010 at 06:36

Any argument about our nature must explain why we do things not in our nature. Thus invalidating any argument about our nature that does not include doing things not in our nature. Thus invalidating any argument about out nature.

What is and what ought to be remain distinct.”””

Any argument that uses circular logic is clever, but that does not mean it is correct. We do things not in our nature because our nature is not absolute. I have a tendancy to get angry at pretentous, smug arguments, but I am using my willpower to suppress my nature. That doesn’t invalidate the fact that I inherently want to smash your brain in with a rock for thinking you’ve made a bullet proof argument.

What is and what ought to be are not distinct. They are heavily intertwined you twit. If I am in a desert, I ought to have more water. If I am in a flood, I ought to have less water. If I am in a feminazi gynoarchy gulog, I ought to have more masculinity. Try again, and drop the philoso-babble. ‘

How’s it feel to step in your own trap? Circular logic does that sometimes.

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Charles Martel January 4, 2010 at 08:56

@Jabher

Any argument that uses circular logic is clever, but that does not mean it is correct. We do things not in our nature because our nature is not absolute. I have a tendancy to get angry at pretentous, smug arguments, but I am using my willpower to suppress my nature. That doesn’t invalidate the fact that I inherently want to smash your brain in with a rock for thinking you’ve made a bullet proof argument.

Brilliant! Now I can see that 140+ IQ.

I had the same reaction you did. Thank you for stepping on the bug.

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Rod January 4, 2010 at 09:47

WELMER fantastic article!
Now here is my much less dignified effort!

Feminism is nothing new.
The unbridled greed, power and selfishness, and the uncaring instant gratification of the matriarchy, is horrifyingly ancient.
You see it in other primate cultures.
The vicious female pecking order ruled by a circle of older, mainly related females.
Their male offspring may become the alpha male, if they alone – choose to except him, in service to themselves.
I could say he is to protect them, but that would be misleading.
He is a tool bred by them to violently use against the other primates in the troupe, to prevent them from being equal or being able to fight back.

I saw a documentary on monkeys, some of the troupe found some tasty fungi to eat.
The alpha females turned up a chased the lesser individuals away, they missed out on the feast while the matriarchy had its fill.
A lower female with young was on the outskirts of the group with the lower males, and a large monitor lizard swam up and grabbed her offspring.
The alpha females own young, were safe in the center of the troupe with access to the best food.

In another documentary a young alpha female monkey was to lazy to pick up nuts off of the ground. So she went over to an unrelated lower female, and took the food out of her mouth to eat.
The adult lesser female didn’t like it at all but was forced to obey the alpha offspring, under threat of the matriarchy’s violence. – Just like people hey?

Cast systems and class systems.

I believe the matriarchy is the opposite to democracy and human rights, it is entirely against fairness, sharing and responsibility to others.
It is about ruthless entitlement, where the most useless are valued, above all others. With no fear of punishment.

These circles of females, whether it be apes or man suppress almost all males and a lot of the females.
I believe this suppresses the whole species.(Man and ape)
Generations of privilege, – getting the best food, the greatest safety and comfort. Means generations of a small number of overvalued, narcissistic and cruel individuals living at the expense of the whole species future.

The many who must carry the matriarchy and its chosen males are in fact more stronger and inventive to have to do so.
But face permanent enslavement to those inherit genetic traits of the evil few.

Feminist-sociopaths, sluts, hoodies and studs.
When you think of the quality of men sent to their deaths by the suffragette white feather campaign, it can give you a real insight into these abominations who have ridden upon the backs of men since the dawn of time.

The great religions were to inspire, enlighten and explain our existence with what men understood at the time.
So quickly all meaning evolves into a male only obligation’s to woman and the few alpha men who also farm us.

The one place where most woman wont look, is the place to start.

Punishing and killing men is only dealing with the effect. It is time for men to look at the cause,
– which disables all humans men and woman alike.

Rod rant fin.

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Jabherwochie January 4, 2010 at 10:23

@Charles Martel-

(Actually, between you and me, its tested as high as 142 (and these are professionally adminstered tests (I’ve seen a lot of shrinks in my day) not internet ones, I’ve never even done one of those) and as low as 126, with the rest in the mid 130′s, so I’m probably around 135, but if men can’t embelish our stories by adding a few inches to the fish we have caught (evolutionary evolved status seeking behavior, pathological liars have this system broken, personal theory of mine), I’m pretty sure a rip in the space-time fabric would occur. Plus, I like to think of myself in terms of potential, what I am capable of. Mood, concentration, etc. all affect the mind’s ability to function optimally. I can tell when I’m in the zone (hyper-concentration for mental tasks) and when I’m not. It makes a big difference. I still think IQ is overrated. I’ve done enough dumb things to prove that emperically. Plus, I spell worse than a 8th grade girl. My strength lies in visual spatial processing (I aced those parts of the tests), and creative problem solving (I’m good at taking educated guesses), but keeping large amounts of information in my working memory could be strengthened, and I have horrible verbal recall (names, dates, places) but good visual recall. Like, I just saw the movie Avatar, and I couldn’t tell you a single name for the alien life forms, but I could draw them easily. I remember one IQ test, that a female was administering, probably a feminist, and she was listing all these well known thinkers and such, and I had to say who they were and what they were known for (this was a first, and it was only on the last test I took, which is probably due to the feminzing of the test, because factual recall like that has little to do with processing ability) and I was nailing them all until she got to Madame Curry. I know, I should have known that one, but I didn’t, but I’m always willing to take a guess. I guessed, “A prostitute.” Creativity. Thats what I have. It produces just as many bad ideas as good ones, but it helps most with ability tests when you don’t know the answer at all. I don’t know how many math problems I solved on the SAT even though I didn’t know the appropriate formula. I just kept manipulating the numbers until something matched up with one of the answers. Obviously, meta-cognition is big for me to. Narcissim can be good sometimes. Lets just keep this our little secret.)

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Jabherwochie January 4, 2010 at 10:40

@Rod-

Very nice.

(Social dynamics of primates varies quite a bit, but just like Jesus understood, stories are often the best way to convey meaning. Message heard loud and clear.)

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Quent January 4, 2010 at 10:50

In fact, some Amazonomachies depict them in Scythian dress, and recent archaeological finds indicate that many Scythian women did, in fact, participate in warfare.

While it may be true that Scythian women acted as soldiers, I’d be a little careful of this conclusion. Women were often buried with armor and weapons as a sign of social or class status, not because they were actually warriors. To my mind, the real evidence is in the wear and tear exhibited by the skeletons of warriors, not the grave goods. Grave goods could have served a purpose or social function, the knowledge of which is now lost.

Women from time to time have been dressed up as soldiers for the psychological impact. The classic example is Joan of Arc. She was neither a soldier, nor a general, she was a useful pawn in a power struggle between elements of the nobility and the King of France. When she served her purpose, she was discarded. I’m sure they made lightweight weapons and a show suit of armor for her, and put her on a horse, so what?

If you ever get to Europe, you should check out real suits of armor and medieval weapons. I doubt modern men could wear the armor and wield the weapons for more than a few minutes, even the martial arts and weightlifting enthusiasts. The old knights were products of years of brutal and tough training. It defies common sense to believe that a peasant girl picked up a sword and started seriously using it. She would have hardly been able to lift the thing with both hands. Yet that’s the myth of Joan, based on sentimentality and sloppy thinking.

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AfOR January 4, 2010 at 10:58

I spent a year wandering through the peloponnese, spent time in all the now iconic places, and did it greek style, not tourist style, on my todd (on my own).

It doesn’t make me a world renowned expert, but it does make me more knowledgeable than people who have not been there.

I do not recognise the ancient greek or ancient greece of which you speak.

There is enough, frankly utterly fascinating, genuine history there, that there is no need to invoke hollywood versions of history in order to prove a point.

Just as you can prove anything you like about christianity from selectively quoting the bible, you can prove anything you like from selectively quoting the vastly greater corpus of ancient greek history…

but…

when you start trying to prove things by quoting erich von daniken / hollywood / bestseller book of the week about christ then you lose all credibility.

The amazons / gargareon / lemnos were all MYTHS.

These were STORIES told by the ancient greeks, for amusement and for the purposes of logical thought experiments, philosophy, in other words.

The “ancient art” you show in the article were not depictions of events, but the ancient equivalent of cartoons.

This is like some guy in in the year 5250 AD trying to tell people what culture was like in the Somme trenches based on depictions of Marge and Homer Simpson.

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Welmer January 4, 2010 at 11:05

The amazons / gargareon / lemnos were all MYTHS.

These were STORIES told by the ancient greeks, for amusement and for the purposes of logical thought experiments, philosophy, in other words.

The “ancient art” you show in the article were not depictions of events, but the ancient equivalent of cartoons.

-Afor

That’s kind of the point, Afor. Can you imagine any such cartoons or movies today?

Also, I’m pretty clear on it being a mythical representation:

Amazonomachy is rooted in myth, but was highly symbolic and relevant to classical Greek society…

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Snark January 4, 2010 at 11:13

What I took from the article was that the Ancient Greeks portrayed gender relations in highly dramatised myths … not that the wars between men and women depicted actually happened.

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AfOR January 4, 2010 at 11:17

@welmer

That’s kind of the point, Afor. Can you imagine any such cartoons or movies today?

Yes, I can, quite easily.

I take it you have never seen Jungleburger?

How about the Fritz the Cat films?

Freak Brothers?

The list is not exactly endless, but it is *extremely* long.

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Jabherwochie January 4, 2010 at 11:19

Any women used in warfare would have been in auxillary roles. Maybe light skirmishers at best, but that is speculation, as I don’t know of any examples of even that. Even the Huns and Mongels, who horse riding and hit and run tactics would have minimized female athletic disadvantage somewhat, did not use women (I use them as an example because Amazonians were depicted as being superb one breasted bow fighters), so no, except for a few outliers here and there, women are absent from warfare. Prostitutes followed along with armies sometimes. Females were probably used as the occasional spy.

I found this wiki statement interesting if unrelated:

“During the Middle Ages, prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it was held to prevent the greater evils of rape, sodomy, and masturbation (McCall, 1979). Augustine of Hippo held that: “If you expel prostitution from society, you will unsettle everything on account of lusts”. The general tolerance of prostitution was for the most part reluctant, and many canonists urged prostitutes to reform.”

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Welmer January 4, 2010 at 11:19

@AfOR

Never seen those. Perhaps I should catch up on film.

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Jabherwochie January 4, 2010 at 11:22

@Snark-

Totally agree.

My statement is tangental to the original point of the topic, as many of mine are. I just like talking about war and prostitution.

Legalize weed and prostitutes. Crime rates would plummet.

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AfOR January 4, 2010 at 11:38

Welmer January 4, 2010 at 11:19

@AfOR

Never seen those. Perhaps I should catch up on film.
—–

you should…. bit torrent is your friend…

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InternetWood January 4, 2010 at 12:01

If you ever get to Europe, you should check out real suits of armor and medieval weapons. I doubt modern men could wear the armor and wield the weapons for more than a few minutes, even the martial arts and weightlifting enthusiasts. The old knights were products of years of brutal and tough training. It defies common sense to believe that a peasant girl picked up a sword and started seriously using it. She would have hardly been able to lift the thing with both hands. Yet that’s the myth of Joan, based on sentimentality and sloppy thinking.

Diet, physical labor every day of their life, and high infant mortality. Of course they were tough, men and women. Most men of that time could probably lift those armor and shields. “Training” has become a modern obsession.

Joan of Arc could probably put you through a wall without trying.

I know, I know, a grrrllll power post.

I hang my head in shame.

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InternetWood January 4, 2010 at 12:02

If you ever get to Europe, you should check out real suits of armor and medieval weapons. I doubt modern men could wear the armor and wield the weapons for more than a few minutes, even the martial arts and weightlifting enthusiasts. The old knights were products of years of brutal and tough training. It defies common sense to believe that a peasant girl picked up a sword and started seriously using it. She would have hardly been able to lift the thing with both hands. Yet that’s the myth of Joan, based on sentimentality and sloppy thinking.

Diet, physical labor every day of their life, and high infant mortality. Of course they were tough, men and women. Most men of that time could probably lift those armor and shields. “Training” has become a modern obsession.

Joan of Arc could probably put you through a wall without trying.

I know, I know, a grrrllll power post.

I hang my head in shame.

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Welmer January 4, 2010 at 12:16

@InternetWood

There’s a new book out about how much tougher men were in days past. Can’t remember the name (“Manthropology”, maybe?), but it would probably be a fun read. I wonder how much tougher women were in the past? Probably much, much stronger than modern girls. All that hauling water, iron cookware, and bags of flour must have made them a lot more muscular than today’s women. In fact, I’ll bet the difference between ancient women and modern women is even greater than that between modern and ancient men.

Quent’s skeletal deformity issue concerning warriors is interesting. I know that Welsh bowmen had deformed left arms from gripping their bows, which required so much strength to pull that it is doubtful that many men alive could do it. And I got some body asymmetry myself from playing sports as a youth. I rowed crew on the port side, so my right wrist is noticeably more muscular than my left from feathering the oar, and my left shoulder is slightly larger than the right from pushing the oar forward on the backstroke. I imagine that if I had been doing this day in and day out for most of my life the effects would be a lot more pronounced.

Now, however, it’s been years since I did any significant physical labor, so I’m probably atrophied compared to what I ought to be.

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G January 4, 2010 at 12:18

I think Jabher the geek should make a post about the Torrent phenomenon.

It is pure stealing and deconstruction of property rights (primarily used for illegal downloads at this moment). But guess who is at the front waving the flag of “revolution”? The scandinavians. Yes I am going there. The affirmative actions (share everything even if you don’t deserve it) and the death of personnal responsability are in my book no strangers to that new internet mentality of false-libertarianism.

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Jabherwochie January 4, 2010 at 12:55

I’m a different kind of geek. (Someone can be a stamp geek, or a dog geek, doesn’t matter really. A geek is just someone who cognitively sacrifices general knowledge (common sense, social awareness) for highly focused areas of specialization, often marked by a distinct lack of social skills. (Rockstars are sometimes just music geeks. Paradox. Yes indeed.) Nerds on the other hand, focus more on school and work for their areas of specialization. Geeks often on more esoteric stuff. Nerds are prone to follow rules also, geeks like to break them. You can be a computer nerd (IT job), or a computer geek (hacker) or a little of both. You can only be a fungus geek, or a work efficiency analysis nerd however. This is a personal schema for understanding. Some will disagree. But my point is, computers are not my friend. Intellectual property rights however, that we could get into. That was probably your focus anyways. I don’t have strong feelings about it. I steal whatever I can on the web, so I’d be a hypocrite to say I’m against it, but in many ways I am. I’m agnostic about it for now. Visual artists aren’t as affected as musicians and movie makers, but we are still affected. Original art still carries a jenny say qua, and even prints, fans like to have a signature and print run. I’m sure fakes abound. I don’t know. Like I said, not something I’ve thought about a lot. The web is like the wild west. Live by the gun, die by the gun. Encrypt or die I guess.

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Hestia January 4, 2010 at 13:20

A fascinating post on a topic that is a great interest of mine…in case you couldn’t tell with the screenname and all. ;)

Welmer-All that hauling water, iron cookware, and bags of flour must have made them a lot more muscular than today’s women. In fact, I’ll bet the difference between ancient women and modern women is even greater than that between modern and ancient men.
To be fair, men and women of the not too distant past were surely more physically stronger than the bulk of people today. Think of the Amish compared to typical people. A considerable portion of our population was compromised of farming families just one hundred years ago and that is hard work for the entire family and would be especially backbreaking for the men and boys in the family. Much of this work would have taken place without the benefit of many modern farming items that only became available post-WW2 in many cases.

Beyond farm work, however, homemaking prior to the washing machine was a laborious task with washing wringers that could be dangerous and crush bones. It was with good reason the traditional laundry day was on Mondays following the day of Sabbath rest and the task was typically broken up, with the immense task that was ironing not that long ago being performed the next day. My grandmother said she would help her mom do the wash (not only for their family but for the motel my great-parents built and owned) with the wringer which would be an all day affair and they would then roll up the items that required ironing and place them in the freezer in preparation for ironing on Tuesdays.

In a favorite homekeeping manual of mine called “Home Comforts” the author discusses the great labor that was homemaking prior to the modern day appliances that are now in nearly every home. At one point she considers the idea of “raw ingredients” for roast beef which today means to go to the store and buy a roast, but in our great-grandmothers’ day would have meant butchering the cow before daring to consider bringing out that cooking pot. This section of the book always makes me grateful to live in the modern age but even more so now that I helped a family friend butcher chickens last summer. Talk about a workout!

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piercedhead January 4, 2010 at 13:52

This is like some guy in in the year 5250 AD trying to tell people what culture was like in the Somme trenches based on depictions of Marge and Homer Simpson.

-Afor

Perhaps the Simpsons wouldn’t say much about life in the early 20th century, but I wonder what it would say about contemporary life? What if some guy in the year 5250 AD were to say that, based on the Simpsons, in the late 20th century a father and husband was thought of as unbelievably stupid and impulsive, a wife and mother was more sensible and grounded, a boy was uncontrollable and thick, and a girl was intelligent, informed and stunningly aware of current events, history and social nuance, as well as being supremely responsible?

I suspect an educated person could draw a lot of inferences about our age and attitudes from the Simpsons, and that they would be correct.

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AfOR January 4, 2010 at 15:08

@ piercedhead
I suspect an educated person could draw a lot of inferences about our age and attitudes from the Simpsons, and that they would be correct.

do you have a mandate to speak for the entire planet?
thought not.

you might be able to draw valid inferences about that very small minority of the human population that watch the simpsons.

self selection at work.

@ welmer
And I got some body asymmetry myself from playing sports as a youth. I rowed crew on the port side, so my right wrist is noticeably more muscular than my left from feathering the oar, and my left shoulder is slightly larger than the right from pushing the oar forward on the backstroke. I imagine that if I had been doing this day in and day out for most of my life the effects would be a lot more pronounced.

It is a well known and well documented phenomenon, all through time, from the ancient galley slaves to turn of the century mills.

the good news is the DNA that this ability is based on is still there, it’s only been a century or so, less if you were working in a foundry or some such manual job.

the bad news is thanks to modern medicine much of today’s gene pool simply would not have survived to breed, shades of the morlock and eloi.

the good news is the DNA is still there, and the DNA doesn’t care if 50% of the population die off and those lines go extinct.

the good news for me is 1,000 years of ancestors who were hard rock miners, small, skinny and tough, I manage to maintain fitness levels and strength that put 16 year olds to shame, just by lifting a tin of beer.

the bad news is modern living (processed and packaged foods, perfumes, drugs, chemicals) is essentially nothing more than an ongoing species wide biology experiment, far too early to guess at the results… except for the fish in the seas changing sex thanks to the female contraceptives that pass through the sewerage system.

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piercedhead January 4, 2010 at 15:49

“I suspect an educated person could draw a lot of inferences about our age and attitudes from the Simpsons, and that they would be correct.”

do you have a mandate to speak for the entire planet?
thought not.

-Afor

The “educated person” I was referring to was the hypothetical guy of the year 5250 AD. (as opposed to someone of his same era overly ready to believe in the literal truth of what he’s presented with).

I’ve never claimed a mandate to speak for the entire planet – I don’t know of anyone who has (though I’ve heard of a few in care that claim to speak for God). I still prefix what I say with “I think” and “I suspect” to make it clear that what I’m saying isn’t an academic “received view” or a claim on absolute truth. (I personally find it a little tedious to do, considering that it seems to me that all of us are speaking subjectively most of the time – but there’s always someone who reads things the wrong way, or doesn’t like the message and so goes for the man).

More to the point, is there nothing in The Simpsons that you find would give strong clues of attitudes prevalent in the contemporary West to people of the future, or do you have another view?

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Greek culture January 4, 2010 at 17:10

What I find most interesting about Greek culture is that it’s greatest thinkers were fond of hanging out in caves and drinking wine laced with ergot (a psychedelic mold.) Given Greek influence on the Romans, Christianity, and eventually u.s. founding fathers, we owe a great deal to a bunch of hippies tripping their brains out on moldy rye.

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AfOR January 4, 2010 at 17:14

@ piercedhead

More to the point, is there nothing in The Simpsons that you find would give strong clues of attitudes prevalent in the contemporary West to people of the future, or do you have another view?

I have watched maybe an hour of the simpsons in total.

I find it to be utter drivel.

I am sure, however, that the simpsons, and xfactor and i’m a celebrity, etc etc etc will give clues as to those who do watch broadcast television.

but useful clues or an insight?

no.

a far better resource would be adverts.

the first director of endemol, the company that created the original big brother reality tv programme, explicitly stated that the sole purpose of the programme was to get you to watch the adverts…

with this truth uttered, he was summarily sacked.

what he said is of course true of all television.

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dawo January 4, 2010 at 21:06

WELMER:.” Amazonomachy is rooted in myth, but was highly symbolic and relevant to classical Greek society…”

Try doing a Yahoo! search on “Sarmatian women.”

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gwallan January 5, 2010 at 00:39

Quent said…
I doubt modern men could wear the armor and wield the weapons for more than a few minutes, even the martial arts and weightlifting enthusiasts.

Modern men mostly couldn’t wear old armour because very few of them could fit into it to begin with.

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Migu January 5, 2010 at 04:19

Modern soldiers wear heavier armor than a fully plated night, and yes we run long distances in it. Average weight carried by an infantry man into battle…..88 lbs. That is if you are not carrying the machine gun. I know I did it for five years. Also, ancient men averaged about 5’2″

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Migu January 5, 2010 at 04:20

Knight

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Jabherwochie January 5, 2010 at 06:47

Overheating was the main problem with platemail. They were superbly crafted, with the weight evenly distributed, but you can’t travel in it because of the heat issue, hence the horse, and it takes about an hour to suit up and suit down. Limited sight was an issue also. Guns ended the use of it.

In my lacking opinion, its the same reason our troops don’t use Halo like body armor. The heat. They would need an internal cooling system and everything that would involve, a power source being the main issue, and since the cost of one of these suits would rival the cost of other more useful offensive capabilities, we don’t use them. When a soldiers life combined with small arms and a rocket launcher cost significantly less than a suit of armor that would increase his survival capabilites but decrease his offensive flexibility, we choose the former.

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Faolán January 5, 2010 at 16:56

@AFOR – Drivel or not, it still implies a lot about our society. I could realistically call more than a few pieces of literature from historic contexts “trash” or “drivel”, and be accurate from a literary standpoint, but they’d still be useful as historic sources.

@gwallan, migu – “ancient man” was not as short as many of you seem to think. Celtic remains from the 4th century BC feature men of around 6′ or more in height. From the middle ages, Henry VII was around six foot, two inches tall, based on his armour. Mention was never made about his “unusual height”.

Men in the recent past were short because of the unhealthy lifestyles associated with the Industrial Revolution. During the Jacobin Revolt of 1745, English conscripts were noticeably shorter than the rural Scots.

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Migu January 6, 2010 at 03:52

Conditioning. We have built in cooling. I operated up to 10hrs at a time in 135 degree weather. Modern suit up time about 3 min. Medeval men could fight as long, but yes they were limited in sight. Internal cooling has been around since ancient Egypt. Evaporative cooling or basically excess water poured on the underclothes combined with openings that increase airflow when the knight moves. Not as effective in Europe due to humidity, but not needed as much either due to a milder ambient temprature. Modern suites have powered and evaporative cooling integrated. For the older suits of IBA cooling units can be integrated for about $50. The power source is as durable as the chest plates. It can take maybe two or three hits before it loses all utility.

Ancient men as in the ones that built civilization were short. Northern men were not, but their civilizations did not ascend till long after the fall of the ancients. The celts were wiped out by the ancient shorties. The Germanic tribes had their first crack at it under charlemagne. They have ascended since that time and are now in decline.

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Migu January 6, 2010 at 04:02

also the 18th century is not ancient, but you are correct crappy nutrition caused ricketts which does stunt growth. The well off of the time period generally avoided nutrition related diseases.

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globalman January 6, 2010 at 07:12

“If we give in and relinquish our patrimony, we have failed our forefathers, and don’t deserve to be called men.”

Quoted for the truth it is. Something for humans who call themselves men to think about.

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Epo January 6, 2010 at 22:22

Somebody was attacking Bittorrent. Somebody needs to read Free Culture. If there’s any female-dominated creativity-squashing authoritarian organization, it’s most surely the RIAA and its cohorts. Consider how many women maintain their lifestyle off the works of an author or artist husband after his deaths, simply by maintaining his estate. (Consider also why so many younger Lolitas go for aging artists-after the death of the most likely self-destructively high-living drug-taking artist in question, the royalties pay your salary forever!)

I’m only a pirate as circumstances permit. But even though I could, say, download pirated versions of all the Playstation 2 games I own and some I don’t, I choose not to. I used Orbit Downloader in Iraq to copy down any youtubes or awesome game review comedy serieses I wanted, mainly because the Internet was hard or impossible to access much of the time and I needed to download before I watch.

I got home and eventually found Steam, the one service that actually makes being honest worthwhile, by-

1. Actually offering old, forgotten games for sale at extremely reasonable prices…

2. Letting you download them onto any computer you own as long as you aren’t running two instances of the game at the same time…

3. Actually working in offline mode occasionally.

But then again, Valve is a company that made a few top-notch games by relying on endless customer feedback, and they no doubt payed attention when that feedback occasionally complained about DRM.

Musicians who can’t make their living on the minstrel(concert) life should not be musicians. Counter-cultural crooners who talk about revolting against the establishment and who personally get away with all the rape/drugs/tax evasion they can because of their popularity and wealth, and then go and join the establishment, a la Lars Ulrich, deserve nothing but contempt from anyone not into hero-worship.

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Vedrfolnir January 22, 2010 at 14:31

All is not lost in media. I remember going with my friends to see Death Race when it had just come out. The theater was packed, and when it got to the moment where the Warden got blown to hell, the ENTIRE audience cheered like crazy. We were all glad to see the bitch get what she deserved.

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Nave Torment November 11, 2010 at 05:38

The idea of Amazonomachy is still unsettling for me. At the end of the day, it was just as the modern feminists told us: it is a celebration of man’s dominance over woman. The ‘rape ideology’ incarnate. That is still hard to refute, no matter how well you colour those marbles, it’s still treating the Amazons as bestial ‘others’. In a postmodern world the art form demands to be deconstructed!

As for this entry, I would like to quote this:

“If, like todays simpering politicians, Greek men had bowed down before their wives and sisters, debasing themselves and squandering their efforts in order to appease the mother goddess, we would have been left with none of the marble pillars of civilization, but rather the misshapen mud huts of matriarchy. ”

Personally, I’m still looking for that lost civilsation where a matriarchy had been established – I find it hard to believe it ever existed, we are persistent creatures, us men. The Mother Goddess, despite any connotations otherwise, never represented matriarchy. Even Gaea was powerless and open to constant abuse by the Sky Father. I’m not even going to go to Hera. Athena, perhaps the most liberal of deities, saw civilisation in equal terms. Despite being a goddess, she represented wisdom and civility, despite creating strategies for war, she held counsels and trials. What was so wrong in worshipping that? But no, we need Mars, the God of War, now that’s grandeur. That’s worship befitting a superior race of men. The above quote seems to be neglecting the fact that women are individuals, objectified only because we live in patriarchal times and have been since recorded history. Is it wrong to ‘squander before wives and sisters’? In my opinion, I think it depends on the wives and sisters – for the Greeks the only justification to such a claim would have been because most women were not educated, and even that’s not the women’s fault. Just ask Plato.

Matriarchies are wrong, but so are patriarchal tendencies. Whatever happened to equality?

Having said that, I do admire your entry to the Amazonomachy art form. It’s an interesting genre to study – and I laud the contrast you made between these and the exploitation film genre of recent years. This is a great entry, one that will keep me revisiting the site. Amazonomachies presented the Amazons in good-old-fashioned savage barbarism, it’s not hard to compare them to the more extreme Radical Feminists, but I believe that if this genre is ever revived, it should be seen through a post-colonial lens.

After all, Herakles did abuse their Queen, and Theseus did kidnap Hippolyte.

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