Born to King Lygdamis of Halicarnassus and to a Cretan mother who is unknown, Artemisia assumed the throne of Halicarnassus upon the death of her husband. While only taking the throne as a regent for her son Pisindelis, Artemisia became known as perspicacious female Admiral in the Persian Navy that practiced a spirit for adventure and acquired an appetite for warfare. Herodotus writes with admiration, “…Her brave spirit and manly daring sent forth to the war, when no need required her to adventure. Her name, as I said, was Artemisia.”
During the Greco-Persian wars, Artemisia allied with the Persian king, Xerxes, as one of his Naval Commanders. Every ancient account of Artemisia depicts her as a brave and clever woman who was a valued asset to Xerxes on his expedition to conquer Greece, except that of Thessalus, who describes her as an unscrupulous pirate and a schemer.1 In 480 B.C., Xerxes initiated an attack on Greece beginning the Battle of Thermopylae and Artemisium. These two battles were fought simultaneously. The Battle of Thermopylae was a three day battle fought on land in Thermopylae. After holding back the Persian army for three days, a Greek traitor informed the Persians the locations of King Leonidas’ army. This giving the Persians an upper hand, they surrounded the Greeks forcing them to draw back allowing the Persians a victory. The Battle of Artemisium took place off the coast of Euboea and was a full naval battle. This battle allowed Artemisia to individualize herself as a fearless commander and an expert with tactics. Depending on the situation, she would fly either a Greek or Persian flag from her ship allowing for a better position to attack or retreat. After a three day battle at sea, the outcome was a draw. ...
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...y it was constructed in dedication of the wreckage of the invading Persian army. Also Photius, a writer in 858 C.E., states that after she escorted Xerxes’ sons to safety in Ephesos, she found love with a prince, Dardanus. He discarded her love and out of disheartenment she drowned herself in the sea. Unfortunately, no ancient writing exists with documentation that validates Photius’ story of her death. In my opinion, I found Artemisia to be a courageous Naval Commander who had quick survival instincts and no lack of assertiveness. Even though the actions she took in the Battle of Salamis would be considered dishonorable on any battle ground, you still have to admire her for walking away from what she possessed as Queen of Halicarnassus. She abandoned a power some people would kill for in this time, all to make a name for herself in the male dominated world of war.
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