Thursday, March 16, 2017

Origins of the Splitting of the Amazons

I'm only going to talk about a couple origins. Which ones? The ones related to the Bana Mighdall Amazons and how they connect to Themyscira. Simply because I can't wait to see more of Artemis and her people during the RHATO arc. I'll be getting more into the Bana Mighdall lore in another entry.

The Amazons split off after they were lulled into a fake peace with Heracles before being attacked and enslaved. How this happens differs in at least two stories.




The Pérez version: Ares uses Heracles to stir up a war with the Amazons. The Queen defeats him and Heracles laughs it off saying they proved their worth. This was in fact a ploy as they use the false truce to murder, enslave, beat and violate the Amazons when their guard was dropped. Eventually Queen Hippolyte (*1) breaks free but most of the Amazons are only too glad to slaughter their jailers. Antiope, Hippolyte's sister, can't worship the Olympian gods after they did nothing to aid them. She takes her followers with her leaving her sister with her girdle to replace the one Heracles took. (*2)


Some thoughts on this take: Heracles is said to be influenced by Hera's madness which grew worse as he takes his anger out on the target Ares set up. I'm not sure how much Heracles can be blamed for his actions if he's not in his right mind but his men can definitely be fully blamed. It's pretty brutal and I'm not entirely sure why the gods are upset with the Amazons. Yes they state their reasons but except for being somewhat isolated I didn't see them doing anything wrong before Heracles imprisoned them. At least from what we were shown. They wanted to make peace with him and only used violence to defend themselves.

They did ignore their Oracle's warning plus the bloodlust many had after they freed themselves, sure. But many Amazons left with Antiope so does that mean denouncing their gods gives said God's no power over them? Antiope is extremely important to the Bana Mighdall and this story depicts her enjoying herself when she spills the blood of Heracles men. Here she wants to get revenge and rejects the gods (yet thinks Ares wasn't their enemy?) This has Antiope in a more negative but understandable light.





Messner-Loebs version: Hippolyta is in love with Herakles who Antiope doesn't trust. She believes he just wants the secret of their immortality which Hippolyta already told since it doesn't affect anything. Hippolyta arranges marriages between her people and Herakles. The wedding night takes an ugly turn. Antiope fights back only to discover her sister was in on the plan and uses the Mask of Proteus. (*3) She makes Herakles men go and makes everyone believe it was Hippolyta that freed them when it was her. Upset at her sister's betrayal Antiope takes many Amazons with her.

Some thoughts on this take: It's funny how Hippolyta sometimes is blond and the Pérez version decided to make Antiope the blond instead. The Messner-Loebs version has Antiope not only has darker hair but also looks exactly like Diana. I like this twist because it says that at some level Hippolyta missed her sister enough to sculpt her infant daughter in her image.

I don't think Heracles has anything influencing his actions here and I still don't know why Hippolyta was going to go along with it. M-L has the sisters mention Antiope being the stronger one while Hippolyta is the schemer but she doesn't come across that smart. Yes she's in love (for some reason) but she says he was going to make her Queen of a bigger nation he'd build. That their marriage would spread the Amazons message better. She's way too gullible here, Hippolyta was chained up still believing his promises while he hits her sister.

While I like the fact Antiope gets more focus it doesn't reflect well on the queen. I do like the idea Antiope and the Bana Mighdall being more misunderstood or at the very least both parties having messed up. The problem is that Hippolyta does some truly horrible things under Messner-Loebs and not all of her actions make sense. Previously the Amazons weren't immortal until after this event while they are already immortal here. I'm not sure why Heracles/Herakles wanted to know their secret to immortality if he's an immortal.




On an interesting note about the bracelets the Themyscira Amazon's have. Their reminders of the Amazon enslavement so they don't forget their ways again or the duty the gods have entrusted them with as penance. Readers of RHATO vol. 2 might recall Jason Todd mentioning Artemis lacking the bullet deflecting bracelets? Well it makes sense as Antiope and the future Bana Mighdall reject the gods and don't get that same decree as a result. They also don't get the immortality in the first version and by abandoning their gods it's taken away in the second.

Granted the Bana Mighdall are shown wearing some bracelets under different artists (for some reason Antiope is wearing them DURING the Herakles attack) but technically speaking they shouldn't have them. In RHATO Akila is seen wearing similar bracelets in a flashback but Artemis wasn't. This leads me to believe it's more of a choice of style for the Bana Mighdall that can act like gauntlets. Maybe even in remembrance of their ancestors that suffered?





*1 This is how the Queen's name is spelled in the Pérez version. I've seen it spelled Hippolyte and Hippolyta in different books. The spelling for Heracles also changes to Herakles.

*2 Hippolyta and Antiope were both given golden girdles by the gods.

*3 A mask that lets the user shapeshift. Herakles uses it to trick Antiope into thinking he was her sister. Antiope uses it to trick his men into believing Herakles was telling them to leave and makes the Amazons believe their Queen saved them. In this version Diana uses it to enter the contest to become Wonder Woman.

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