Roman marble relief with Amazonomachy
Relief fragment showing a scene from the Amazonomachy; a fight between Greek warriors and the Amazons. On the left a warrior lunges forwards, his round shield lifted with his left arm, a crested Attic helmet upon his head, his torso bare. A rearing horse lashes out at him, its right leg kicking violently at the warrior. The horse is being ridden by an Amazonian woman who grasps the reigns, her short chiton fluttering in the wind, her feet in calf-length boots. A rectangular mortise on top of the moulding with a finished edge, the other three edges broken. Remains of concrete and painted plaster along the edges suggest this fragment was once set into a wall. The Amazons were a nation of all-female warriors. Greek mythology tells of several battles incurred between the 'barbaric' Amazons and the 'civilised' Greek men. The Amazon represented a divergence from normal social structure, and posed as a threat to the status quo. It is therefore not unnatural that their image came to represent all enemies of the state, and indeed that the embodied the very essence of barbarism and an unnatural way of being. Depictions of an Amazonian defeat therefore embodies not so much the defeat of womankind, so much as the conquering of the barbaric world by that of the civilised. It often directly refers to Western defeat of the East, such as Greece or Rome against the Persians. Similar interpretations can be taken from Centauromachies and Gigantomachies.