Atalanta, Telemache, and Andronika Picture

Gender roles within ancient history and mythology has always fascinated me. Thus I often find myself toying around with it in my stories and turning the idea of gender roles on its head and back again. And I'm pretty sure these three are the very epitome of that, at least within my stories.

Atalanta-(left) Atalanta is an actual character of Greek mythology. She was the daughter of a king, but because he wanted a son, he left her out in the wild to die, however, she was found by a she-bear which took her in and nursed her. She was then found by some hunters who took her and taught her how to shoot a bow. She ended up becoming one of the greatest archers of the time and even killed the Calydonian Boar that had been terrorizing the country. Shortly after the boar hunt, she was rediscovered by her father and claimed by him and wanted her to marry, however she was uninterested in marriage, and thus to appease her father, came up with a contest. Whoever beat her in a footrace would become her husband, anyone who lost, she would kill. And thus many men died trying to marry her. However, a young man named Hippomenes called in the help of Aphrodite, and she aided him in winning the race and he married Atalanta. Some point after getting married, however, Atalanta joined the Argonauts on their adventures. I've always wanted to write a story about Atalanta. The way I see her, she's a pretty tough woman and is pretty much her husband's white knightess. Despite her initial protests to marriage, she finds she is oddly happy with her life as a wife and mother, but still craves adventure from time to time. She and Hippomenes are on very equal footing in their relationship and he is perfectly content with being the man behind the heroic woman. Atalanta also loves her son fiercely and is very protective of both him and her husband. And while many of her fellow Argonauts would have no objections of bedding her, she is happily faithful to her husband, and will threaten any man who tries to proposition her.

Telemache-(center) This character probably gets the biggest gender-role-flip story I've ever thought up. Essentially she is a female hero, adventuring across the land of ancient Greece on faithful horseback doing great and heroic deeds...followed by a male prostitute who is along with her for the adventure and to "relieve the daily stresses of the all-conquering hero" (though he often causes as much stress as he relieves). This is probably one of my odder stories. Telemache's journey as a hero starts when she is in her early teens and her brother is killed defending their village from bandits. Instead of sitting back and allowing the village to be overrun, she took up the leadership her brother left behind and helped the village kick the bandits out for good. As years passed however, and things seemed to return to normal, no men asked for Telemache's hand in marriage, which should have been happening as she was a healthy young woman in her teens. After finding out that she is considered problematic as an option for a wife, she leaves the village and begins her life of adventuring. Telemache feels she gets something out of protecting people, even if they do not always appreciate her help. She is of a more serious nature and holds her tongue when ridiculed about her gender. She tries not to be bitter and keep a spark of hope that one day she'll be remembered as someone who made a difference. She still visits her mother and younger sister back in the village from time to time as well. Though these visits are made somewhat awkward when she suddenly has a male prostitute traveling with her.

Andronika-(right) I've always wanted to write a story from the perspective of an Amazon. Andronika's mother is a blacksmith and has taught her daughter how to forge her own armor and weapons. Andronika has lived her whole life amongst the Amazons alongside her mother, never knowing her father (or the fact that she has a twin brother who was left to die) and learning how to fight. Overall, her life seems all well and good and she is proving to be one of her people's best fighters. Yet things change when the queen dies and her daughter takes her place. The new queen goes to extremes, killing any men who wander too close to Amazon territory after sleeping with them and executing the male servants within the possession of the Amazons. Seeing that the new queen's actions of killing all men who cross their path will lead to conflict with the various city states whose men they've killed, Andronika, at the age of fifteen, leads a coup that lasts a year. After being defeated, she is sentenced to death by the queen. However, as Andronika is awaiting her execution, her mother, who she thought had turned on her, helps her escape and tells her to run and never return as she will be killed if she is ever seen again. Exiled, Andronika wanders and is lost for days until hungry, desperate, injured, and exhausted, she is found by a group of men headed for their home city. A lot of Andronika's story has to do with the balance, finding a balance in power between men and women, balance between the masculine and feminine, and also gender roles in general, and being dropped into an environment you'll never be completely adjusted to due to how you were raised and the mindset that upbringing gave you. Andronika, while a strong girl, is stubborn to a fault and refuses to show any signs of weakness, even when it would be in her best interest to show a bit of sincerity or that she needs something. It takes her awhile to trust the men around her, yet she is able to form a very close friendship with one and they prove to be each other's strongest ally and source of support. 

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