September 1, 2010
From “The Age of Fable”, lead story from the forthcoming Sad Stories of The Death of Kings by Barry Gifford:
Roy read a story about a tribe of female warriors who interrupted the conﬂict between the Greeks and the Trojans in their quest for males to assist in the propagation of their race. These women called themselves Amazons and were led by Penthesilea, who, as had the rest of the tribe, severed her right breast in order to more swiftly and easily draw back her bow. The most exciting part of the story, Roy thought, was the Amazon queen’s confrontation with the champion of the Greeks, Achilles, whose ferocity in battle attracted Penthesilea as no man ever had. For the ﬁrst time she encountered a man she could consider her equal.
The idea of a tribe of brave, vicious, single-breasted women was almost beyond the comprehension of Roy’s eleven-year-old mind. He drew pictures of the Amazons as he imagined them, naked, tall, and lean, their long hair tied back with leather thongs.
Roy asked his grandfather if he’d ever read this story.
“Sure,” said Pops, “it’s in The Iliad, by Homer.”
“That’s right,” Roy said. “I kind of found it by accident on a table at the library. Do you think there really ever was a tribe of savage women like that?”
“I don’t think savage is the correct word for them, Roy. They knew what they were doing.”