Zarina, ruler of the Sacae; a rare example of a woman-leader of Army and State in the Ancient World

In this post we present an excerpt from Diodorus Siculus‘ “The Library of History”.

Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, 2.1‑34 (Loeb Classical Library Edition)

34 1. After the death of Artaeus, Ctesias continues, Artynes ruled over the Medes for twenty-two years, and Astibaras for forty. During the reign of the latter the Parthians revolted from the Medes and entrusted both their country and their city to the hands of the Sacae.

2. This led to a war between the Sacae and the Medes, which lasted many years, and after no small number of battles and the loss of many lives on both sides, they finally agreed to peace on the following terms, that the Parthians should be subject to the Medes, but that both peoples should retain their former possessions and be friends and allies for ever.

3. At that time the Sacae were ruled by a woman named Zarina, who was devoted to warfare and was in daring and efficiency by far the foremost of the women of the Sacae. Now this people, in general, have courageous women who share with their husbands the dangers of war, but she, it is said, was the most conspicuous of them all for her beauty and remarkable as well in respect to both her designs and whatever she undertook.

4. For she subdued such of the neighbouring barbarian peoples as had become proud because of their boldness and were trying to enslave the people of the Sacae, and into much of her own realm she introduced civilized life, founded not a few cities, and, in a word, made the life of her people happier.

5. Consequently her countrymen after her death, in gratitude for her benefactions and in remembrance of her virtues, built her a tomb which was far the largest of any in their land; for they erected a triangular pyramid, making the length of each side three stades and the height one stade, and bringing it to a point at the top; and on the tomb they also placed a colossal gilded statue of her and accorded her the honours belonging to heroes, and all the other honours they bestowed upon her were more magnificent than those which had fallen to the lot of her ancestors.

(Source: “The Library of History”, Book II, by Diodorus Siculus, Loeb Classical Library)

Diodorus Siculus

NovoScriptorium: It is worth noting that in such ancient times, women were not just accepted as warriors among the Sacae nation, but also as leaders of Army and State.

It’s not only the military deeds though that gained Zarina her reputation and ‘deification’ after death; this wonder-woman “introduced civilized life, founded not a few cities, and, in a word, made the life of her people happier“. This is amazing, especially if compared to countless ‘barbaric’ and ‘uncivilized’ peoples of Antiquity who were governed by men.

Research-Selection-Comments for NovoScriptorium: Isidoros Aggelos

One thought on “Zarina, ruler of the Sacae; a rare example of a woman-leader of Army and State in the Ancient World

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: