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The warrior queen

The cult of Hellenistic female rulers as the basis of their symbolic participation in military acts

Author: Lucyna Kostuch

The Hellenistic kings’ mechanism for revealing divine power leaves no conceptual doubt, which is why it is generally accepted that the military deed, with time not necessarily an authentic one, was a major and even central element forming the basis of the cult of the ruler. The question, however, arises as to the framework within which a “military deed” could be performed in the context of the changing ontological status of women, and thus of female Hellenistic rulers. It should be considered that the concept of the military deed of female rulers as the basis of Hellenistic monarchical ideology was certainly not born on the battlefield, where queens basically did not appear. However, in spite of the lack of a military basis, the fighting female ruler is present in Hellenistic ideology. This situation begs the question of whether the armed deed, as in the case of male rulers, was at all necessary to associate the queens with war. Possibly it is a case of the reverse — maybe the military deed was a consequence rather than the cause of the cult of these female rulers, since female historical figures did not change their ontological status as a result of the armed deed.

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