The Female Tank Pt.II – Mythological female badasses and an honourable mention

Last time we had a look at Boudicca, Zenobia and Joan of Arc, examples of some real life female warriors. If you haven’t been following, I’m designing a new champion for League of Legends. So far, I have decided that it will be a female tank. This is the second part of my research into the stories and aesthetics of history’s female tanks. This time I’ll be taking a look at some depictions female badassery in mythology.

But first, there was one badass I left out last time; Jeanne Hachette. While Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, was invading various towns in France he came across the small town of Beauvais. Of course, Charles wanted to invade that too! With around 300 men, the militia of Beauvais held their ground but were losing the battle. The rest is eloquently explained by BadassOfTheWeek.com;

“Eventually, the champion of the Burgundy army pulled himself on top of the wall, planted the flag of Charles the Bold high above the town, and shouted a bunch of asinine insults about how he was going to have his way with everybody’s mothers.

That was the final straw.  Jeanne wasn’t going just going to stand there and let some jackoff stick his gay-ass flag on the walls of her town.  She got super pissed off, grabbed the closest thing to her – which just so happened to be a gleaming fucking hatchet – sprinted across the wall like a homicidal Olympian and lunged at the stupid asshole.

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The poor knight didn’t even know what hit him.  One minute he was standing there, crotch-chopping in the general direction of the citizens of Beauvais, and the next minute this crazy bitch was assaulting him with a hatchet.  Jeanne smashed this guy in the shoulder with her axe with enough force to decapitate a rabid Minotaur, and her second swing sent the hatchet blade right into his throat.  As the guy stood there, his eyes slowly glazing over, Jeanne kicked him square in the chest, sending him flying off the wall to his death below.  Then she pulled the flag up out of the ground, broke the flagpole over her knee and hurled it down into the moat on top of him.

After seeing this display of badassitude so completely xtreme that it generated its own gravitational field, the defenders of Beauvais got super omega pumped up with the energy to punch boulders, play middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears and pull all the stuffing out of their couches with their teeth.  The men defending the city fought like they were totally wigged out on a Satanic concoction of Red Bull and crack, killing every Burgundian they could get their hands on and chucking their bodies over the walls of the city.  Jeanne continued to flip out like a goddamned ninja on the invaders, swinging her axe like a bloodthirsty lumberjack, and before long Charles the Bold was boldly running away from the ever-swinging death-bringing hatchet arm of our insanely badass heroine. “

Wikipedia’s explanation was far less entertaining. This is definitely a case of pure tanking in RL, Hachette protected her squishy militia men and inspired them to go ultra-carry DPS on those Burgundian assholes.

Now, onto mythology!

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Mythological Warrior Women

Hippolyte

Probably the first thing you think of when you think “Warrior Women” is the mythological race of the Amazons. What interested me is that the Amazons are from Greek mythology and are not the tribal, South American, scantily clad women I’ve seen referred to as ‘Amazons’ before. Historiographers place the location of the Amazons in the area which is now modern day Ukraine. What’s even more interesting is the etymology of the word Amazon, from Wikipedia;

“Among Classical Greeks, amazon was given a popular etymology as from a-mazos, “without breast”, connected with an etiological tradition that Amazons had their right breast cut off or burnt out, so they would be able to use a bow more freely and throw spears without the physical limitation and obstruction; there is no indication of such a practice in works of art, in which the Amazons are always represented with both breasts, although the right is frequently covered.”

The highly sexualized modern depiction of an Amazonian woman is pretty much the complete opposite of what they were. My goal with my champion aesthetic is to provide something refreshing to the League of Legends’ female consortium. Big breasts and chainmail mini skirts are definitely off the menu, although I doubt I’ll be burning out anything! According to The Role of Women in the Art of Ancient Greece, Amazons typically wore a triangle bandage (to cover their right breast) and a skirt, or Phrygian clothing. Since everyone had their breasts out in those days, and they’re a mythological race, it makes sense that they wore little to no clothing. Other accounts suggest they dressed the same as the men, similar to Joan of Arc.

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Futurama's depiction of Amazons - Far from the source...

Blizzard's Diablo Amazon - Less South American, but those things have got to get in the way!

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Hippolyte was the queen of the Amazons, so probably the biggest badass of the lot of them. Obtaining her girdle was one of the feats of Heracles, although the story is far from heroic. Still, despite little being known about Hippolyte , she was the leader of a bunch of warrior women. I also think that a cool girdle would be a nice inclusion in my champion’s design. It looks good on DC Comics’ Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman’s mother)…

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Atalanta

Atalanta is another character from Greek mythology, sometimes referred to as a god. Much like Henry VIII, Atalanta’s father didn’t want a daughter. Unlike the guillotine happy English king, Atalanta’s father decided to deal with his frustration by abandoning his daughter upon a mountain top. Here, she was raised by a she-bear and became a master hunter and fighter.

One thing which I won’t include, but seems to be a theme of all female mythological characters, is that there’s yet another rape story behind this one! Yes, every goddess or female hero appears to have been raped or had their female brethren raped. Atalanta was almost raped by 2 centaurs, but she killed those dirty hoofed bastards. I suppose being raped is what the old storytellers thought was the ultimate shame for a woman, much like a male character being castrated or losing a battle. Perhaps I will include some form of shameful event for my champion, but I’ll keep it PG13 rated.

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A French comic book version of Atalanta - Not exactly what I'm going for...

Atalanta by Malchev - This is more like it

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Atalanta’s master hunting skills were put to the test when she went on a boar hunt, set on killing a rampaging wild boar sent by Artemis because someone forgot her birthday. All the dudes in town were super pissed that a girl was being allowed on the hunt, but Atalanta killed that boar and was gifted the boar’s skin by the hunt master. Boar skins are badass, so that’s something else I could include on my champion.

Another story has Atalanta reunite with her father (wonder if that was awkward or not…), who wanted her to marry. Atalanta, who didn’t like having a husband and was scarred by half horse-half man rape events, said that she’d marry any man who could outrun her in a footrace. This is pretty impossible, since Atalanta is like a demi-god. Nonetheless, Melanion beat her by asking Aphrodite for some magical apples that slowed down Atalanta whenever she looked like passing him. The dirty cheat!

Overall, I like Atalanta. I like the idea of a foot runner’s physique, with a more bottom heavy (a.k.a. leggy) silhouette. It would be less sexualized (drawing attention away from Riot’s favourite area on a woman) and would keep her femininity without making her seem frail. Long, powerful legs also works well for physical charging skills.

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Freyja, Valkyries and Shieldmaidens

You can’t leave out the Norse when you look at the world of badass women. Freyja was a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold,  witchcraft, war, and death. That’s a pretty hefty repertoire . Of course, the ones I’m most interested in are War and Death.

Valhalla is a huge hall, ran by the god Odin, which is where fallen Norsemen are reborn when killed on the battlefield. It’s like their equivalent of Heaven, but way more badass. Every day the warriors in Valhalla get to fight in battle, and are resurrected to fight again. They each meat from a magical wild boar, which regenerates! There’s also a lot of beer. Freyja isn’t to be outdone, so she also has a hall, named Sessrumnir. She receives half of those killed in battle, so I’m sure there are equally fun times in her hall of the dead (little is actually known about Freyja’s crib).

Freyja rides a chariot pulled by cats (and owns a boar if she gets tired of the Pussy Wagon), she possesses a cloak made from falcon feathers and a gold necklace called Brisingamen. There is little known about these artifacts too. Freyja once lent the cloak to Loki so he could find Thor’s stolen hammer (so perhaps it provides flight or some form of truesight). The necklace was stolen by Loki at one point, and also worn by Thor who had to disguise himself as Freyja to get into a wedding. Yes, it’s weird. Perhaps they had really good nibbles.

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Freya by Penrose

Freyja, a minor god choice in Age of Mythology

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The Freyja on the left isn’t very badass at all, but I posted it because it once again shows the flowing gown which is featured on a lot of the warrior women we’ve seen so far (the ones from reality too!). The second picture is awesome though. Age of Mythology was a great game in general, and this is a great picture. I could just take this and use it as my aesthetic! The falcon feather cloak is really cool, and I love the hairstyle and helmet. If this isn’t the main basis of my classic skin, it could definitely work well as an alternative skin.

Valkyries are pretty well known to all, so I won’t go into a ton of detail (it also involves reading tons from minor passages from Norse poetry). Essentially they’re women who ride horses, throw spears and decide who will die on the battlefield. They also serve beer in Valhalla. Shieldmaidens were women in Scandinavian folklore and mythology, who chose to fight as warriors. The most famous mythological Shieldmaiden was Hervor, who travelled far and wide to reclaim the cursed sword Tyrfing. The Lord of the Rings character, Eowyn, was based on the shieldmaiden. She’s pretty badass, she killed the freakin witch-king!

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A statue of a Valkyrie on a horse in Copenhagen

Eowyn, from the Lord of the Rings movies

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I find Norse mythology the most fascinating of all. I’ve read a few books (although I’m pretty rusty) and thought it was such a colourful, humorous and entertaining world. I think I will use the Norse theme as a basis for my champion’s back story. Although I will take aesthetic parts from all the women I’ve studied over the past 2 weeks, the champion will be rooted in viking style.

In my next post, I will discuss an overall skill concept for my champion. Once that is done, I should have enough to start drawing.

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Sam

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