Were There Female Mercenaries in Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece is well-known for its fierce warriors and their conquests. From the Spartans to the Athenians, Greek soldiers were a force to be reckoned with.

But what about female warriors Were women allowed to fight in battles as mercenaries in ancient Greece

The answer is a bit complicated. While it’s true that ancient Greek society was patriarchal and women were not typically allowed to participate in warfare, there are some instances of female mercenaries recorded in history.

One such example is the story of Cynane, the half-sister of Alexander the Great. Cynane was a skilled fighter and trained in the art of war from a young age. She became one of Alexander’s most trusted generals and led troops into battle alongside her male counterparts.

Another notable female mercenary was Artemisia I of Caria, who fought alongside the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars. She commanded five ships and played a crucial role in several naval battles against the Greeks.

However, these examples are few and far between. The vast majority of women in ancient Greece were not allowed to participate in warfare, let alone become mercenaries.

So why were these exceptions made In both cases, Cynane and Artemisia I were exceptions because they held positions of power or had connections to powerful men. Cynane was related to Alexander the Great, while Artemisia I ruled over her own kingdom as queen.

It’s also worth noting that while these women may have been accepted as fighters within their respective circles, they still faced societal backlash for their choices. Women who fought were often seen as violating traditional gender roles and risking their reputation.

In conclusion, while there were some instances of female mercenaries in ancient Greece, they were rare exceptions rather than the norm. Women faced significant barriers when it came to participating in warfare or holding positions of power outside of traditional gender roles.

But the stories of Cynane and Artemisia I serve as a reminder that women have always been capable of fighting alongside men and making their mark on history, even in societies that sought to keep them down.

– Female mercenaries were rare exceptions in ancient Greece
– Cynane, half-sister of Alexander the Great, and Artemisia I of Caria are notable female mercenaries
– Both women held positions of power or had connections to powerful men
– Women who fought faced societal backlash for violating traditional gender roles.


  • https://www.britannica.com/biography/Artemisia-I-of-Caria
  • https://www.historyhit.com/female-warriors-of-the-ancient-world/
  • https://www.ancient.eu/article/1425/women-in-ancient-greece/

About the Author

John is a history enthusiast with a passion for ancient civilizations. He enjoys exploring lesser-known stories from history and sharing them with others.