Is there a relationship between the Amazons and the Amazon River? They have the same name, although, our knowledge of the ferocious warrior women that amputated their right breasts in order to be able to shoot their bows better, goes back much further than our knowledge of the famous Amazon River, which contains a fifth of the running fresh water on the planet. In classic mythology, the term “Amazon” refers to the inhabitants of an old village inhabited by the daughters of Ares, the god of war, and the nymph, Harmonia; and who, inspired by her father and the goddess Artemis, created a kingdom of warrior women in the Caucuses.
It was said that the Amazons lived in Terma (currently the region near the Black Sea in Turkey), near the coast (Ponto Euxino), where they established an independent kingdom under the rule of the queen Hippolyta. One of the stories that involves them speaks of the how they helped the Trojans during the mythic war. The amazon queen, Penthesilea, sent out a group to support the Trojan king, Priam. Achilles killed Pentesilea, who before dying made him fall hopelessly in love with her.
The Word “Amazon” – which comes from Latin and was also borrowed from Greek –is derived from the privative particle “a,” along with the term “maxon,” which in Greek meant “breast.” Traditionally, it was said that the Amazons would amputate or burn off their right breast in order to be able to use their bows more freely and throw spears without physical limitation or obstruction.
Greek and Roman history tells of many stories of Amazon attacks in Asia Minor. The Amazons were associated with various historic towns during the Late Antiquity Period. Later, in the Modern Period, the term began to be used to refer to women warriors in general.
Centuries later, in the morning of June 24th, 1541, the Spanish explorer, Francisco Orellana battled against a band of Amerindians supposedly led by the mythic amazons. The Spanish were able to take one of the men prisoner, who told them that the Amazons had a queen called Conori and who possessed great riches. Amazed by the encounter, the explorers named the largest river in the world after them, which would later extend to refer to the entire river basin of the jungle in which it is found, as well as parts of Brazil, Colombia and Peru.
However, it’s quite probable that the word Amazon was actually a deformation of the false cognate that sounded similar to an indigenous word whose pronunciation sounded like “Amazon” to Spanish ears. This indigenous word meant “boat breaker,” especially among the Marajoara, who witnessed firsthand the tremendous tides (“pororoca”) that this river could provoke when coming into contact with the Atlantic Ocean at its mouth. The Amazon is the largest river in the world, which feeds the largest amount of water into the ocean and drains more earth than any other river and is considered to be the lung of the planet.