First Iranian Female Admiral

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M. Saadat Noury
by M. Saadat Noury
18-Jan-2011
 

 

INTRODUCTION: According to various texts, Iran possessed warships and the ships equipped with the weapons and materials used in war since the Achaemenid era (550-330 BC), and the evidences indicating the existence of those ships have been found in archeological investigations. It has been also documented that the Iranian Navy was very active during Achaemenid king Darius the Great (reigned 522-485 BC) and his son King Xerxes (in Persian: Khasha Yar Shah). During King Xerxes (reigned from 485-465 BC), for a short time the Iranian Navy was commanded by Artemis, a female admiral, around 480 BC. In this article, the name of Artemis, the life story of Artemis, her battles, her end, and a poetry referring to Artemis will be studied and discussed.

THE NAME OF ARTEMIS: Artemis was a name which was used in both Persian and Greek cultures. In Persian Culture the goddess of Productivity and Values Anahita was referred as Persian Artemis or Artemis Persia. The first century geographer Isidorus Characenus, aka Isidore of Charax, noted that Achaemenid kings always paid high respect to Anahita or Artemis Persia and he wrote that, "A temple of Artemis, founded by Darius at Apadana, on the royal highway along the left bank of the Euphrates".
In Greek mythology, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of Forests, Hills, Virginity, Fertility, and the Hunt and was often depicted as a Huntress carrying a bow and arrows. She also became identified with the Roman goddess Diana.

HER LIFE: The exact birth-date and birthplace of Artemis are unknown. Since the reliable evidences indicate that she was appointed as the Iranian Admiral in 480 BC, she must have been 30-40 years old at the time. Therefore, her birth-date most likely could have been between 520-510 BC. It has been recorded that Artemis was from a noble family and she joined the Persian Army when she was very young.

HER BATTLES: Artemis participated in many battles, and in every battle she acted like a leader and her inspiring energy would quickly ignite the enthusiasms of other soldiers and officers. One of her famous battles was the Battle of Salamis, and here is the story of that battle:
In 484 BC, Darius the Great left to his son Xerxes the task of capturing Athens (the capital and largest city of Greece). From 483 BC Xerxes prepared his expedition: A channel was dug through the isthmus (in Persian: Tanggeh) of the peninsula of Mount Athos, provisions were stored in the stations on the road through Thrace, and two bridges were thrown across the Hellespont. Soldiers of many nationalities served in the armies of Xerxes, including the Assyrians, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Indians, Egyptians, Jews and Arabs. Xerxes concluded an alliance with Carthage, and thus deprived Greece of the support of the powerful monarch of Syracuse. Xerxes set out in the spring of 480 BC from Sardis with a fleet and army which Herodotus claimed was more than two million strong with at least 10,000 elite warriors named Persian Immortals.

The reliable evidences indicate that in fact a brave Iranian female named Artemis participated in the Battle of Salamis in September 480 BC as an Iranian Admiral commanding the Iranian warships. According to historical documents king Xerxes personally issued an official order and appointed Artemis as the Iranian Admiral. In the battle with the Greeks and on the point of being captured by enemy, Artemis managed to disappear from the scene in an unusual way and very professionally. Xerxes watching from a distant hill-side could see what happened and he was full of praise for Artemis's bravery. She then navigated back to the Iranian front, where, according to Herodotus, Xerxes declared "My men have turned into women and my women into men!" Shortly after, Athens was captured and the Athenians and Spartans were driven back to their last line of defense.

HER END: There is not much information on Artemis after the Battle of Salamis. Some documents indicate that at the end she was interested to marry king Xerxes to become a queen. That marriage, however, did not take place. It should be also noted that some researchers regrettably have mixed up the life story of Artemis with Artemisia. Over one hundred years later, a female named Artemisia became the satrap of Caria (southwestern Turkey) between 353 and 351 BC. In fact, Artemisia was contemporary to the Achaemenid kings Artaxerxes II and III, and she did not have anything to do with the First Iranian Female Admiral, Artemis. More information about Artemisia may be found in the article of the First Iranian Satraps written by this author.

ARTEMIS IN POETRY:  Poetess Parvin Bavafa in her inspiring poem on Who Am I referred to Artemis and highly praised her. Her Persian poem reads as follows:
Keh man Parvin forough-e shahr-e Iranam/ Nah Pourandokht, nah Azardokht, nah Atoosa, nah Panthea/ Balkeh Artemis Sepahsalar-e Iran/ Dar nabard-e Pars va Uoonanam.

And here is the English version of that poem as translated by this author
I would like you to know that I am Parvin/ As a shining star in the sky of Persian Poetry/ I am neither Pourandokht nor Azarmidokht/ I am neither Atoosa nor Panthea/ I am not  like that or this/ I am as Artemis/ The admiral of all Iranian fleet & marines/ In the Battle of Persian Empire & Greece

EPILOGUE: Though Iranian Navy in one form or another existed since Achaemenid era, it was only with the Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979) in the 20th century that Iran began to consider building a strong navy to project its strength in Persian Gulf. It is also documented that in 1969 a Destroyer (in Persian: Naav-Shekan) was named as Artemis by the Imperial Iranian Navy. The mission of the Artemis Destroyer was to act as a security guard in the Persian Gulf at the time.

Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD

REFERENCES
Ariarman Website (2008): Online Article on Iranian Seafaring History (in Persian).
Iran Daily Website (2004): Online News on Archeologists Find Remains of Achaemenid Ship.
Saadat Noury, M. (2010): Online Article on the First Iranian Figures and War Materials in the History of Iranian.
Saadat Noury, M. (2010): Various Online Articles on Persian History and First Iranians.
Saadat Noury, M. (2008): Online Poem on Artemis in the Chain of Poems.
Saadat Noury, M. (2008): Online Article on First Iranian Satraps.
Saadat Noury, M. (2008): Online Article on Anahita, the First Iranian Goddess of Productivity and Values.
Shahyad Net (2005): Online Article on the Imperial Iranian Navy.
Tajar, M. S. (2008): Online Note on Who Had the Greatest Empire.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2008): Online Articles on Anahita, Artemis, Isidore of Charax, History of the Iranian Navy, and King Xerxes.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2010): Online Article on Artemis (in Persian).

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more from M. Saadat Noury
 
Baharan

Dear Dr Saadat Noury

by Baharan on

Thank you for this outstanding research article. This is a link to the naval battle of Salamis that you referred to: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/salamis


statira

Dear Mr. Noury

by statira on

Could you write more articles about our important female figure such as, Pantea, Apranik, Azarmidokht, pourandokht and definitely many others that most of us have no knowledge of them?


M. Saadat Noury

Dear Ms Anahid Hojjati

by M. Saadat Noury on

Thanks for your very nice comment. I always enjoy reading your stuff, too


statira

For Once Pasdar Pirouz

by statira on

made a right statement that Herodotus was a clumpsy historian.


Anahid Hojjati

Dear Ostaad Saadat noury, what a great blog.

by Anahid Hojjati on

Dear Ostaad Noury, thanks for an excellent blog. I enjoyed reading it and I learned couple things too. Thanks for sharing.


M. Saadat Noury

Dear AI

by M. Saadat Noury on

Yeah many people say so, and thank you for the full text.


M. Saadat Noury

Dear SP

by M. Saadat Noury on

Thank you for your kind comment; please accept this in return (About Hegel):

http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/hegelbio.htm

 


M. Saadat Noury

Dear Salty

by M. Saadat Noury on

Thank you for your kind comment; please accept this in return:

PERSIAN WOMEN WARRIORS http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=32908406623

 

 


All-Iranians

متن کامل شعر پروین اعتصامی در مورد ارتمیس و زنان نامدار ایران

All-Iranians


که من پروین فروغ شهر ایرانم/ نه پوردخت- نه آذردخت – نه آتوسا – نه پانته آ/ بلکه آرتمیس سپهسالار ایران در نبرد پارس و یونانم/ مرا گر در مقام همسری بینی نه یک همخواب و همبستر،/ که یک همراه و یک یار وفادارم،/ نه یک برده – مکن اینگونه پندارم که جوشد خون آزادی به شریانم / بدون زن کجا میداشت تاریخ تو،/ آرش با کمانش؟/ کاوه ی آهنگر با گرز و سندانش؟/ بدون زن کجا میداشتی آن شاعر طوسی،/ نگهبان زبان پارسی،/ استاد فردوسی؟/ مرا گر در مقام مادری بینی/ مگو با من که “هست فرشی از بهشت زیر پایم”/ نگاهم کن که زیر پای من دنیا به جریان است/ ز نور عشق من رخشنده کیهان است/ که با دستان من گردون به جریان است/ که جای پای من بر چهره ی سرخ و سپید و سبز ایران است/ برو ای مرد دگر مبر آسان به لب نامم/ که من آزاده زن/ فرزند ایرانم
گرچه خیلی ها شک دارند که این شعر را  پروین اعتصامی گفته باشد.


SargordPirouz

When reading and

by SargordPirouz on

When reading and interpreting ancient texts offering historical narratives, it's best to keep in mind the father of history is Hegel, not Herodotus. 


default

GREAT READ

by SALTY on

thank you for an informative article. Hope to see such worthy female Admirals in the Iranian Navy again.


M. Saadat Noury

Dears JS, Statira, and Sargord Pirouz

by M. Saadat Noury on

Thank you for your kind comments and interseting observations.


M. Saadat Noury

Dear Comrade

by M. Saadat Noury on

Thank you for your kind comment and your interesting link on an Iranian navigator

 البته که دریا نورد با دریا سالار ، یکی نیست

 


SargordPirouz

Respectfully, I wouldn't

by SargordPirouz on

Respectfully, I wouldn't exactly consider Herodotus as a reliable source. There's a fair amount of folklore to this type of historical rendering.

And it's difficult to get any sort of accurate rank translation between militaries of that age and the present.

Was she ethnic Persian? Unlikely. 

It's likely this character was an allied political leader (through death of spouse) and that allied regional troops under her jurisdiction were attached to Persia's military. In this role, her military leaders would have briefed her and she'd have counseled Persia's leaders, accordingly.

But again, we're offering our own reading into a historical narrative that doesn't past muster as anything close to the modern study of history. 


M. Saadat Noury

Dear Fatolla

by M. Saadat Noury on

Thank you for your kind comment; please accept this in return (a link about Artemisia, not Artemis. Artemisia became the satrap of Caria between 353 and 351 BC):

http://fa.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%AA%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B3


statira

Very interesting piece of history

by statira on

and thanks to Mr. Noury for that. About Artemis, somewhere I read she was in love with a younger man and when he did not return her love,  she commited suicide.


J.S.

Comrade

by J.S. on

Of course just to salute.


J.S.

Comrade

by J.S. on

Got any other pics? lol.


comrade

Artemis is long-dead

by comrade on

Let's salute Zahra.

Never increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.

 


Fatollah

magnificent read

by Fatollah on

Thank you!