The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Nova et exacta delineatio (detail: Ins[ula] Amazonum, "the Isle of the Amazons"). From Levinus Hulsius, Voyages, Pt. 5 (Nuremburg, 1598), courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. Cf. Theodor de Bry, America, 13 vols. (Frankfurt, 1590-1634), Pt. 8, portrait detail (from a map of Guiana), reproduced with permission from the Special Collections of University of Virginia. A favorite European fantasy involved claiming that ancient Amazons on the run from Rome's might had moved from Asia Minor to America; as the conquerors' attention shifted West, so did the Amazons' putative stronghold, from the Isla de las Mujeres* (Martinique) to the Amazon jungle (as here) to the Golden State = California, actually named for an Amazon queen from a Spanish romance. A clear casualty of this New World Amazon-resettlement was the commonplace etymological fiction that only women who shed their own breasts to fight more like a man can be usefully regarded as Amazons.
*The name recurs as the Islas de las Mujeres, tiny isles off the Caribbean coast of Mexico.

Further Reading:

Blok, Josine H. The Early Amazons: Modern and Ancient Perspectives on a Persistent Myth. Leiden, 1995.
Flint, Valerie I. J. The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus. Princeton, 1992.
Gerbi, Antonello. Nature in the New World: from Christopher Columbus to Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. Tr. Jeremy Moyle. Pittsburgh, 1985.
Kleinbaum, Abby. The War Against the Amazons. New York, 1983.
Schwarz, Kathryn. Tough Love: Amazon Encounters in the English Renaissance. Durham, NC, 2000.
Weinbaum, Battya. Islands of Women and Amazons: Representations and Realities. Austin, TX, 1999.
Wilde, Lyn Webster. On the Trail of the Women Warriors: The Amazons in Myth and History. New York, 2000.
Related links: The American Amazon / Amazons Recruiting / Young Man and American Wild Women // Return to Index