Ancient Greek mythology is filled with references to strong men who conquered kingdoms, fought for their freedom and did not hesitate to kill. However, there are many strong and powerful women who became known for their ruthlessness and canning ways.
In memory of Lauren Bacall who used to play strong, powerful characters, creating some of Hollywood’s most ruthless, but at the same time desirable women, here is a list of the deadliest and most powerful women of ancient Greek mythology.
She was every man’s worst nightmare. According to the legend, Clytemnestra was the wife of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, who sailed to Troy as commander of the Greek army to help his brother Menelaus take back his wife Helen who had been abducted by Paris of Troy. Before leaving Greece, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to goddess Artemis, to appease his wrath.
While Agamemnon was fighting the Trojan War, Clytemnestra started plotting his murder with her new lover, Aegisthus. Upon the king’s return, the two lovers ambushed him and slit his throat. Chocking on his own blood, the king called Clytemnestra a name that can only be translated as “bitch-face.” Even though she has been portrayed as a villain in numerous ancient Greek tragedies, no one could blame her for avenging her daughter’s death.
Artemisia I of Caria
Artemisia, Queen of Halicarnassus, may not have been on the right side of history, but even the Athenian fighters who sailed against her, showed a lot of respect. She fought in the Battle of Salamis for her overlord Xerxes as one of his closest naval advisors. Even though she was opposed to the attack, she fought bravely and refused to back down.
With her smart and canning ways, she fought through the Greek ships fearlessly, while the other Persian admirals dissolved into hysteria.
Penthesilea was the queen of Amazons. She went almost suicidally mad after she caused the death of her sister during a hunting accident. Driven by demons haunting her, she decided to go on a suicide mission to fight in the Trojan war. Eventually she got her wish but not before killing her way through the Greek troops and heroes. She even held her own in a fight against Telamonian Ajax. She was eventually defeated by the Greek demigod Achilles.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Medea was the wife of Jason who, like many ancient Greek husbands, was sleeping around. He had many mistresses but when he decided to marry one of them, he stepped over the line. In order to take her revenge, heartbroken Medea who was in love with her husband, murdered the children that she and Jason had together.
According to ancient Greek legends, Circe, a goddess of magic, was the most well-known femme fatale of that era. She would seduce men, luring them on her island. When the men, driven by their desire to touch her, visited the island, she would catch them off guard and use a spell to transform them into hogs, trapping them forever.
The only man who was ever able to escape her magic was Odysseus, who had been forewarned by the ancient Greek god Hermes.