Warrior Women of History, Mythology and Fantasy

Celebrating Ancient Amazons of myth and history to Women in the Modern Military and Warrior Women fighting Beyond the borders of Reality Hdj_copy.gif (23430 bytes)

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With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels & colored pencils, Howard David Johnson embraces leading edge digital media in the creation of his realistic depictions of fantasy, folklore, mythology, legend, religion, and heroic history. He works in and mixes a wide variety of media * Oil paintings * Acrylic Paintings * Prismacolor Paintings * Drawings * Chalk & Oil Pastel Paintings * Photography * Digital Artistry & Mixed Media * 



   The warrior woman has emerged in recent times in our popular culture as ferocious and deadly as the mightiest male warriors of myth and history. In this art gallery we examine the truths of history, the marvels of mythology and the delights of fantasy for women and men alike in a presentation of artwork and word paintings.


Did The Amazons ever REALLY live?

The legends of the Amazons have a basis in historical fact according to Herodotus, the Father of History. (book four) He wrote thousands of years ago that the Scythian warrior women encountered by the Greeks had the characteristics of the mythical Amazons and they were an amazing tribe of people.

  The Scythians who lived in today's Southern Ukraine lost all their men in the war with Darius so they procreated with their slaves, who it was their custom to blind so they posed no political threat. These warrior women had to kill at least three men in combat before surrendering their virginity and raising children.

They wore the same armor as the men and used the same weapons. Many historians doubted Herodotus accounts but Russian archaeologists in the 19th century found graves and tombs with women buried in full armor with weapons in the region and dated to the time period to substantiate his reports.

 The Amazons were persistent in their appearances in the shadow area between myth and history. they were mentioned in the Iliad at the battle of Troy which was only until recently thought to be a myth until archaeologists proved otherwise.


 Warrior Queen Boudica of the Celts

On a recent "History" Channel "documentary" she was shown wearing a mini-skirt and charging at the forefront of her army- the FIRST to exchange blows! No wonder U.S. Senators express outrage at the history channel's lack of history.

Women  Generals participating in battle plans? Yes! Women Judges and mayors? Yes! Celtic women battlefield combatants? Almost never. I have a collectible copy of Tacitus Annals of Rome printed in the 1880’s. She rode as a passenger in a chariot before battle and her daughters were before her in the bus-wagon like seating.

Because of the removal of history from schools and the influence of television the dividing line between history and myth & legend is becoming increasingly blurred. Recent surveys showed 50% of high school students could not recognize a picture of Abraham Lincoln or tell why he was an important figure or who the U.S. won their independence from. Movies like "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer" will only make matters worse.

 Celtic Warrior Women were more like Queen Boudica  and were more like cheerleaders on those days in history when the battles were actually fought. If their man was cowardly on the battlefield, they were eyewitnesses and you can rest assured he wished he was dead when he got home. Authors are omitting important details and twisting and “embellishing” historical texts like Annals of Rome by Tacitus to suit their revisionist agendas. Truth is not determined by the force with which you argue and these authors argue very forcefully but offer no facts or references to extant or verifiable history. I can argue very forcefully that men have always given birth to babies just like women do throughout history but it will not make it true.


Warrior Queen Zenobia of Palmyra


Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra (circa 278 A.D.) is one of the grandest & most underrated heroines of antiquity! She come from a long line of fabulous Syrian & Abyssinian queens, including the Legendary Queen of Sheba. She adored & emulated Cleopatra & ironically met a similar fate. Assyrian records speak of mighty Arab warrior queens like Zabibi, who revolted but was finally subdued in 738 B.C.  she was born Septima Bath-shabbi, consort of Odaenathus, the Dux Orientus succeeded his throne as his widow & on behalf of her son, the lawful successor. She ruled with very capable hands and was determined to surpass his excellence and make Palmyra mistress of the Roman Empire in the east.

 She was a scholar in her own right and was instructed in the sciences by the celebrated Longinus. Besides her native tongue, she spoke the Latin, Greek, Coptic and Syrian languages. She patronized learned men and herself formed an epitome of Egyptian history. The Talmud speaks of her goodness to rabbis. She was a conqueror and commanded a fine army, protecting the Roman flank from the Persians and subduing Egypt. In spite of her loyalty and capable leadership Zenobia was betrayed when the new emperor Aurelius took the throne because of gender prejudice. Zenobia then stood up to the tyranny of the Romans in the grandest heroic fashion. She led her troops into Phoenicia and Palestine, conquered the land to the borders of Egypt and defeated the world-governing Roman army. Personally leading her troops into battle on horseback was an important ingredient for Zenobia's success. A woman's presence in battle is inspiring (like a mythical goddess) common among early Arabs, in a pre-Islamic tradition; called the Lady of Victory. Her hair flowing and her body partly exposed, this Lady of Victory appealed both to valor and passion. In addition to this, the fact that every man that met her fell in love with her due to her beauty and charm makes her even more fascinating. 

Life of Aurelian, by Vopiscus in Augustae Historiae Scriptores (translated into English by Bernard in 1740)

Joan of Arc


Possibly the most famous woman warrior in all of Western History is  Joan of Arc  (1412-1431) who was very definitely a battlefield combatant.

She was a mystic who lived a very public life during the Middle Ages, her high profile political presence and her visions and voices made her one of the most controversial people of her times.

  She was condemned in spite of her unflagging faithfulness as a Christian and was burned alive at the stake on trumped up charges of being a heretic by the Roman Church, although it cannot be said that The University of Paris, one time favorite of the Popes, and the most influential educational institution since Aristotle, had nothing to do with the martyrdom of Joan of Arc.

    The Inquisition took it's earliest form around 1023 A.D. to deal with various kinds of heresies and made the Age of Faith complete.  Persecution of maverick Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Pagans was especially relentless during these centuries.

    Dante - 'The Divine Comedy' ( 1318 A.D.) with his 'Inferno' - a terrifying vision of Hell - was the most influential writer and philosopher of the times. 

 Since the last decade of the 20th century with controversy over women's new roles in politics, which were earned with great hard work, sacrifice and capability and the new combat roles in the military, which were thrust upon truck drivers  for example who suddenly became targets of roadside bombs and thus full scale combatants in spite of government policy, the warrior woman has emerged as an unprecedented and  very real part of our society in the 21st century.

 Sadly, fantasy television shows like Xena warrior princess have had more of an impact on our cultural consciousness than events of history. The truth is, there were very, very few real life female warriors in western history and most of those were fictionalized composites like Molly Pritcher.

In the 1970's women began serving in active duty in the American Armed Forces and this practice has  spread globally since. The uniform depicted to the left was the first U.S. combat uniform worn by women during the Vietnam War. That illustration was created as a cover for a time traveling fantasy novel set in ancient Greece, but shows the idealized image of a female warrior spanning thousands of years.


Warrior  goddesses of Mythology












Warrior Women of Fantasy

The warrior woman has emerged in recent times in our popular culture as ferocious and deadly as the mightiest male warriors of myth and history. The weaker sex? Not in these stories!

The oddest part of this fun new phenomenon in fantasy art, cartoons, novels and movies is the eagerness of certain writers to pretend they always existed and to present historical figures in this light.



A look at these two pictures quickly shows the difference between the warrior women of the fantasies written by men and those written by women. Something to do with wearing clothes, I think. Other than that - these gals are scrappy, smart and gorgeous!







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All these pieces of realistic art and the text are legally copyrighted and were registered with the U.S. Library of Congress Office of Copyright by the author, Howard David Johnson All rights reserved worldwide. Permission for many academic or non-commercial uses is freely and legally available by simply contacting the author via e-mail or visiting www.howarddavidjohnson.com/permission.htm


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