Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 March 2020
Little thought per se has been given to women as agents of violence in antiquity, let alone to the role of the royal harem as the site of revenge-fuelled violence and murder. This chapter addresses this gap by exploring how royal women in the Persian Empire could be instruments of violence. While acknowledging the Greek obsession with this topos, it goes beyond the Western preoccupation with the harem as a site of Oriental decadence and attempts to put stories of women’s violence against women into its ancient Near Eastern context. It explores the mutilation of the body and is particularly focused on the Herodotean tale (which has genuine Persian roots) of the revenge mutilations of Amestris, wife of Xerxes I.