- , Amazon RiverAccording to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Amazons were a fierce nation of Scythian women who lived by themselves. They dealt with men only in battle or for procreation, and either killed their sons or sent them to their fathers. Their daughters were raised to become warriors. When grown, each woman hacked off her right breast so that it wouldn't hinder her range with the bow. Amazon in Greek is a composite of a- (without) and mazos (breast).The Amazons frequently appear in Greek mythology. One of the tasks of Hercules was to obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. He slew her and took her girdle (sash). Another queen of the Amazons, Penthesileia, whose army came to aid the besieged Trojans, was killed in battle by the redoubtable Achilles.Legend says that one Vincente Yanez Pinzon, the discoverer of the Amazon River in 1500, named it Rio Santa Maria. But in 1541 Francisco de Orellana, an explorer, after descending from the Andes on this river to the sea, was attacked by a savage tribe. Believing women fought al g- side men, he then renamed the river Amazonas; its name in English, of course, is Amazon. This is an intriguing story; the explorer may have assumed that skirted Indians were women.A strong, aggressive woman, especially if she looks masculine, may be called an amazon.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.