Women at War in the Classical World

Paul Chrystal has written the first full length study of women and warfare in the Graeco Roman world. Although the conduct of war was generally monopolized by men, there were plenty of exceptions with women directly involved in its direction and even as combatants, Artemisia, Olympias, Cleopatra and Agrippina the Elder being famous examples. And both Greeks and Romans encountered women among their ‘barbarian’ enemies, such as Tomyris, Boudicca and Zenobia. More commonly, of course, women were directly affected by war as noncombatant victims, of rape and enslavement as spoils of war and this makes up an important strand of the author’s discussion. The portrayal of female warriors and goddesses in classical mythology and literature, and the use of war to justify gender roles and hierarchies, are also considered. Overall it is a landmark survey of how war in the Classical world affected and was affected by women.

‘Chrystal’s work has given us a study remarkable for its detail and the breadth of its scope, an analysis backed up with ample referencing… a work of considerable scholarship and insight, one that anyone with an interest in ancient warfare will not be able to ignore’.

– Dr Stanley Ireland, Department of Classics & Ancient History, University of Warwick.