Can Powerful Women be Popular? Amastris: Shaping a Persian Wife into a Famous Hellenistic Queen

Monica D'Agostini*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The successors of Alexander the Great engaged in shaping their image of Basileis. Hellenistic rulers and statesmen became increasingly aware of the relevance of self-representation to convey political and social messages for their audience. Unique among them is the case of the Basilissa Amastris of Herakleia, currently the first woman, at least in the history of the Greek Mediterranean and Near East, publicly identified through agency and appearance as the political, economic, and administrative royal authority. Comparing the local tradition from Memnon of Heraklea with the numismatic evidence from the area, the paper shows that Amastris not only crafted her own Basileia but she also shaped her own fame. The peculiarity of her background and the metamorphic historical context allowed her to move between cultures and manipulate the social conventions to create a new political profile. To grant support and confer legitimacy on the new Hellenistic institutions, she made herself and her Basileia vessels of innovations that reflected the interests not only of the conqueror but also those of the native cultures, which had to accept them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCelebrity, Fame and Infamy in the Hellenistic World
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePhoenix Supplementary Volumes


  • Alexander the Great
  • City Foundation
  • Coins
  • kingship


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