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Artemisia I of Caria, 480 BC - Women War Queens



A Quick Concept Drawing for Artemisia I of Caria, Queen of Halicarnassus. Artemisia I was the first recorded female naval commander in the history, famed for leading her navy in the Naval Battle of Artemisium and in the Naval Battle of Salamis during the second Persian Invasion of Greece circa 480–479 BC.

Historical Women War Queens Logo by Gambargin
Project: Women War Queens Series

"Όφις ην μη φάγη όφιν, δράκων ου γενήσεται"


Made in collaboration under the guidance and historical advice from :iconuracca:. After the recent events, she has helped me to see if i can start and get into the habbit of drawing again. Inspired by her recent works on the same Historical Figure, as well as the poll I made earlier on which "Historical Women Warriors I should Draw?". In here, she is depcited in a very stylized Greek dress with some anachronistic decorated cloak. Since she was a Dorian Greek, her crew woudl have had the same equipment as their other greek adversaries, though, maybe some of the weapons used were different due to Persian Influence.

Inspired by the song: Pretty epic music I'd say

Credit and Personal Thanks to :iconrosane-delattre: rosane-delattre for suggestion on drawing historically correct women warriors as well as :iconorkideh84: Orkideh84 for her beautiful drawing that inspired this piece.


We all have heard the famous Artemisia I, the first female naval commander ever recorded in the history (which, unfortunately, didn't mention any Phoenician female admirals commanding ships). If you have recently watched 300:Rise of the Empire, surely you would be aware of the character, Queen Artemisia played by the actress Eva Green. While the one portrayed in the movie 300:Rise of Empire is heavily fictionalized, the real Artemisia however, was a figure that deserve admiration.

The history of Artemisia is a matter of scholarly debate, but according to the writings of Herodotus, in which we source the most, She was the daughter of Lygdamis, a Wealthy Greek Halicarnassan and a Cretan Mother. When she married the King of Halicarnassus, she bore him a son, though, her husband passed away shortly after that and She assumed the position as a Queen to the city-state until her son was old enough to rule. People often mistaken her identity as Persian, but in fact, She was a Dorian Greek. This wasn't strange or out of context, as during her time, the Persian Achaemenid Empire had stretched vastly from across the middle east, Indus to Asia Minor, on which, the city of Helicarnassus (now the port city of Bodrum in Turkey) came under the Persian Satrapy of Caria.

Though, the Persian Achaemenid Empire was one of the world's largest, if not THE world largest at that time, it was a relatively young empire, prone to many revolts within its territories. The beginning of the Conflict between the Greeks and the Persian started when the Greek City States Athens and Eretria supported the Ionian Revolt against the Persian Empire during the reign of Darius I. Given that at that time the Persian empire was also plagued with plenty of rebellions, the Ionian Revolt, thought ended unsuccessfully, threatened the stability of the Persian Empire, hence Darius was determined to punish the party involved. After successful expeditions military expeditions which resulted in subjugating Thrace and Macedon, many of the Greek-City states simply surrendered to the power of the Persian Empire. On the other hand, Athen defied the Persian by executing its diplomat, while Sparta simply threw the Persian ambassador down the well (THIS IS SPARTAAAA!!), thus, signaling the declaration of War. Although outnumbered, the Greek managed to land a decisive moral blow to the Persians at Thermopylae, as well as defeating the invading force at Marathon, ending the 1st Persian Invasion of Greece. Darius I died shortly after that when trying to subjugate the Egyptian revolt, and his son, Xerxes I took the throne and began his second Invasion of Greece, which is where Artemisia I of Caria came into picture.

Artemisia herself strongly opposed attacking the Greeks on Sea and questioned the loyalty of many of Xerxes Subjects, like the Egyptian, Cicilian, Cyprian and other contingents. This caused major uproar and angered many of the military leaders of these nations, but Xerxes praised her otherwise for her opposing view. Nevertheless, Xerxes refused her council, saying that the previous Persian defeat at sea was because of his absence, and believed that his presence would increase morale and helped to win the odds for the Persian. Artemisa, being the subject of the Persian Empire, obliged and presented her contribution of 7 ships from Helicarnassus, (which Herodotus claimed to be among the best) and personally commanding them in the battle.

During the battle of Salamis, Artemisia was not amongst the high command of the Persian naval force, but rather, on board on one of her Helicarnassan trireme, commandering its movement. The battle started with confusion as the Greek navies withdrew to the narrower strait, which prompted the larger and less maneuverable Persian ships to pursuit them, leading to an ambush. The ensuing battle was destructive to the Persians, and the shallower and narrower Athenians Triremes then began to pursue the remaining Persian ships, who now scattered in confusion. Artemisia, stuck in between the chaos, tried to evade the pursuing Athenian galley, maneuvering through the Persian ships blocking her way. Now moving at full speed, she spied another ship in front of her, a flagship of the Persian Allies of Calyndian Contingent led by King Damasithymus. Without warning, she sailed straight away and rammed his ship, splintered it greatly and sank it. One reason why she did this is speculated because, Caria shared border with Calynda, which may have resulted in friction between the two, and that Artemisia may have had resentments with King Damasithymus at one time.

The dramatic action caused major confusion amongst both parties. The Persian Emperor Xerxes I, mistook the sanked Calyndian Ship as one of the Greeks, and praised Artemisia in his famous speech "My men have become women and my Women have become men". The Captain of the Greek ship that pursuit Artemisia earlier, mistook her ship as one of them and broke of the chase, believing it must be a friendly ship. This caused an outrage to the Greek Captain Ameinias when he learned the truth. The Greek was angered with Artemisia fighting against them, as such, the Athenians were offering 10,000 drachmas to any of the captains who could bring her head back.

After the battle, Artemisia was praised by Xerses for her bravery and good council, although, by this time, the Persian had already lost the taste of battle and were keen to end the war. She then returned home to her land and took the leadership of Halicarnassus again until her son is old enough to take the kingship. With that, came the end of the Second Persian Invasion of Greece. Xerxes returned home to his empire, which by this time, plagued by many rebellions that later claimed his life. Little is known about her after this, some speculated that Artemisia and Xerxes relationship became romantic, other said that Artemisia had an affair with another man. On the other hand historically speaking, her dynasty had great relationship with the Persian emperors, making it prosperous and wealthy.

Unfortunately, The Persian Empire became increasingly Unstable, and the Greeks were now on the offensive. From there, rose one man by the name of Alexader III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the great, who would later turned the tide of battle and brought the war to the heart of the Persian empire. The invaded became the invader, and before long it crushed the Persian Achaemenid Dynasty from the course of history....


Next on the series, hopefully Soon - Joan of Arc, Boudicca of Iceni or Aethefeld of Mercia Aethelflaed of Mercia, 917 AD - Women War Queens by Gambargin:)

You can suggest or contribute to the voting in the poll "Historical Women Warriors I should Draw?"
If you are interested in the Anachronistic Women Warriors of the Historically Wrong Sketch Series like this one > Kunige Svajone of Baltai Didzioji Kunigaikstyste by Gambargin, please feel free to visit my gallery. :D
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Actually, HER FATHER was the king of Halicarnassus. It had been an oligarchy before so he just took over - and at the very least he had Persian approval after the facts.

So it made it easier for her to assume power when her husband died - the only reason he had been king being that he had married the king's daughter ( although he may have been ruler of one of the places included in the Halicarnassian kingdom )

Also, presumably after his death, she went and conquered the island of Cos and added it to her kingdom. Logically it would have been at the time of the Ionian Revolt - late enough that the rebels didn't take it back but not so late that it was useless to the Persians as I suppose her main goal was to make them approve her retaining power.