13. Artemisia, the Formidable Ancient Warrior Queen
Queen Artemisia I of Caria (flourished in the fifth century BC) ruled Halicarnassus in Caria – a satrapy, or province, of the Persian Empire in southwestern Anatolia. She was the daughter of the king of Halicarnasus, who named her after the Greek goddess of the hunt, Artemis. In addition to a queen, she was also a formidable naval commander who fought for Persia’s King Xerxes when he invaded Greece. Artemisia was most famous for her role in the naval Battle of Salamis. Her side lost that engagement, but she nonetheless distinguished herself in combat.
When Artemisia came of age, she married the satrap of Caria, and after his death, she assumed the throne of Caria as regent for her underage son. Ancient reports depict her as a courageous and clever commander of men and ships, who was an asset to Xerxes when he decided to invade Greece. She demonstrated that she was a capable commander and a tactician in the naval Battle of Artemisium, 480 BC, which was fought simultaneously with the more famous Battle of Thermopylae. She so discomfited the Greeks in that engagement that they put a sizeable bounty on her head, and offered 10,000 drachmas to whoever killed or captured her. The reward went unclaimed.