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Artemisia I

Author(s) : Dawson Maria-Dimitra (3/19/2001)
Translation : Gougla Dafni (12/30/2007)

For citation: Dawson Maria-Dimitra , "Artemisia I", 2007,
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=7570>

Αρτεμισία Α΄  (2/19/2008 v.1) Artemisia I (10/7/2008 v.1) 

1. Family

Artemisia I was the daughter of the tyrant of Halicarnassus, Lygdamis I, while her mother was of Cretan origin. After her husband’s death, whose name remains unknown, she assumed power before 480 BC in Halicarnassus and the islands of Cos, Nisyros and Calymnos. She had power as a guardian of her son Pisindelis, always under Persian suzerainty.1 Pisindelis succeeded her, while during 465-450 BC Lygdamis II, probably the son of Pisindelis and Artemisia’s grandson, assumed power in the city.2

2. Biography

In 480 BC Artemisia participated with five ships in the expedition of Xerxes I against Greece. Herodotus cites her among the king’s generals and mentions that her ships were some of the best in the Persian fleet. He praises her decisiveness and her intelligence and emphasizes her influence on Xerxes.3

Artemisia took part in the naval battles at Artemision and Salamis. Herodotus includes a special reference to her participation in the battle at Salamis, while it is also notable that she unsuccessfully tried to deter Xerxes from this confrontation.

During this last naval battle, Artemisia managed to flee with dexterity from the Athenians who pursued her. The latter had set an amount of 10,000 drachmas as a reward for her capture. According to Herodotus, in an effort to flee, Artemisia sank an allied ship from Calynda, on which the king of the Calyndians Damasithymos had embarked. Thus, Artemisia succeeded in misleading not only the Athenians who were chasing her, but also Xerxes, who, upon seeing this incident and thinking that Artemisia had sank an enemy ship, cried out: “My men have become women and my women men”.4

After the Persian defeat at the naval battle of Salamis, Artemisia advised Xerxes to withdraw his forces from Greece as soon as possible, and she transported his sons to Ephesus.5 Her future thereafter and her end remain unknown.

1. Her. VII.99∙ KlPauly 1 (1964), col. 625, see entry “Artemisia 1’ (H. Gams)∙ Lexicon der Alten Welt (Stuttgart 1965), col. 338, see entry “Artemisia I” (F. Kiechle)∙ NPauly 2 (1997), col. 59, see entry “Artemisia 1” (P. Högemann)∙ RE II.2 (1896), col. 1441, see entry “Artemisia 2” (W. Judeich)∙ Hornblower, S., Mausolus (Oxford 1982), pp. 135, 359∙ OCD (Oxford 1996), p. 184, see entry “Artemisia” (Piero Treves).

2. The story that Photius cites about Artemisia, concerning which she blinded her lover Dardanus of Abydos and then, following the oracle, went to Leukada, where she tore herself down the rocks, is a later one and is considered a myth. See Photius, Bibliothèque II, 153a, 25-30∙ RE II.2 (1896), COL. 1441, see entry “Artemisia 2” (W. Judeich)∙ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology I, pp. 376-77, see entry “Artemisia 1” (L. Schmitz). On Pisindilis and Lygdames see Suda., entry “Herodotus”.

3. Her. VII.99∙ Polyaenus VIII.53∙ RE II.2 (1896), col. 1441, see entry “Artemisia 2” (W. Judeich)∙ Lexikon der Alten Welt (Stuttgart 1965), col. 338, see entry “Artemisia I” (F. Kiechle).

4. Her. VIII.68, 87-88, 93∙ Polyaenus VIII.53∙ History of the Greek Nation B: Ancient Hellenism, p. 334∙ Hignett, C., Xerxes’ Invasion of Greece (Oxford 1963), p. 206.

5. Her. VIII.101-103∙ Hignett, C., Xerxes’ Invasion of Greece (Oxford 1963), p. 265∙ Lexikon der Alten Welt (Stuttgart 1965), col. 338, see entry “Artemisia 1” (F. Kiechle)∙ OCD (Oxford 1996), p. 184, see entry “Artemisia” (Piero Traves)∙ RE II.2 (1896), col. 1441, see entry “Artemisia 2” (W. Judeich).


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