Greek Hero

Antiope (daughter of Ares)

Antiope, Greek Hero (3x2)


Antiope, daughter of Ares, was a great warrior and an Amazon queen. She is best known for being carried off by the Athenian hero Theseus (though whether she went willingly or not varies by the tradition and source). The Amazons did not appreciate losing their queen: in response, they assembled a huge army, sailed across the sea, and invaded Athens to get Antiope back. The bloody war that broke out only ended when Antiope herself was killed.


The etymology of the name “Antiope” is relatively straightforward. The first element is the Greek preposition or prefix anti, meaning “like” or “against,” and is found quite frequently in Greek names (for example, “Antipater,” “Antilochus,” etc.). The second element is seemingly derived from the Greek word ops, meaning “voice.”


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Alternate Names

In some sources, the Amazon queen carried off by Theseus was named not Antiope but rather Hippolyta,[1] Melanippe,[2] or Glauce.[3]


Antiope’s parentage is rarely mentioned in surviving sources, but when it is, her father is named as Ares.[4] This suggests that Antiope’s mother would have been Otrere, Ares’ Amazon consort. But in other traditions, Antiope’s mother was Hippolyta, another Amazon queen, most famous for her role as one of Heracles’ foes.[5]

Family Tree

Theseus und Minotauros Meyers konversationslexikon

Illustration of Theseus killing the Minotaur from Myers Konversationslexikon (1888).

Wikimedia CommonsPublic Domain


Theseus and the Attic War

The myth of Antiope begins with the hero Theseus. When Theseus arrived at the faraway land of the Amazons (somewhere in the neighborhood of the Black Sea), he fell in love with a beautiful Amazon queen, whom most sources called Antiope.[7]

The abduction of Antiope by Theseus, 5th cent. B.C.

5th century BCE statue of Theseus abducting Antiope. Archaeological Museum, Eretria, Greece.

George E. KoronaiosCC BY-SA 4.0

As for what happened next, the details are fuzzy. Some ancient sources insisted that Theseus’ feelings were reciprocated and that Antiope willingly followed the hero back to Athens.[8] But other sources were more ambiguous, suggesting she was carried away by force.

In either case, the Amazons resolved to retrieve their queen. They gathered a large army of both Amazons and their allies, sailed across the sea, and attacked Theseus. 

The Amazons devastated Attica (the region ruled by Theseus) before besieging Athens itself. The ensuing war—sometimes known as the “Attic War”—nearly destroyed Athens and ended only after Antiope was killed in combat. According to many authors (including Diodorus of Sicily, Plutarch, and Pausanias), Antiope fought at her husband Theseus’ side and was tragically killed by one of the Amazons she had once ruled over.[9] In the wake of her death, the Amazons made peace with Athens and returned home.[10]

Wounded Amazon relief, 2nd cent. A.D.

Detail from a relief depicting a Greek warrior pursuing an Amazon and grabbing her by her hair. Archaeological Museum, Piraeus, Greece.

George E. KoronaiosCC BY-SA 4.0

However, there were other versions of what happened between Antiope and Theseus. In one tradition, recounted in the lost epic the Theseid, Theseus soon decided to leave Antiope so he could marry the Cretan princess Phaedra instead. When Antiope found out, she called on the Amazons, who were still loyal to her, to avenge her. Theseus then recruited the help of his friend Heracles, who killed Antiope and defeated the Amazons.[11] 

In another variation of this myth, Antiope decided to take matters into her own hands: while Theseus was celebrating his wedding to Phaedra, she crashed the feast with a few of her loyal Amazons. But Theseus and the Athenians locked them inside the hall and managed to kill them all.[12]

There were still other traditions in which Theseus was the one who killed Antiope. Some sources stated that Theseus slew her in battle (presumably in a version where Antiope fought with the Amazons, rather than with Theseus), while others stated obscurely that he killed her “because of an oracle of Apollo.”[13]


Before she died, Antiope gave Theseus a son named Hippolytus (or Demophon, according to Pindar). This Hippolytus would grow up to be a devotee of the goddess Artemis, whom he honored by vowing to remain a virgin. Unfortunately, this brought him into conflict with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who felt that Hippolytus was neglecting her worship by refusing to have sex.

Aphrodite punished Hippolytus by causing his stepmother Phaedra to fall in love with him. When Hippolytus did not respond to Pheadra’s advances, she convinced her husband (Hippolytus’ father, Theseus) that Hippolytus had tried to rape her. In a rage, Theseus called on the sea god Poseidon to kill Hippolytus. Though he eventually discovered that his wife was lying, it was too late: Poseidon had already answered Theseus’ prayer, and Hippolytus was dead. Theseus was thus responsible, directly or indirectly, for the death of both his Amazon wife and their son.[14]

Jozef Geirnaert - Phaedra and Hippolytus

Phaedra and Hippolytus by Jozef Geirnaert (1819). Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, UK.

Wikimedia CommonsPublic Domain

Pop Culture

The two best-known modern adaptations of the myth of Theseus and Antiope are Mary Renault’s The Bull from the Sea (1962) and Steven Pressfield’s Last of the Amazons (2002). Renault calls Antiope by her alternate name, Hippolyta. Both Renault and Pressfield turn the myth into a doomed love story, with Theseus and Antiope (or Hippolyta) struggling against their respective societies for the sake of love.

Antiope also appears in DC’s Wonder Woman comics, where she is the sister of the Amazon queen Hippolyta and the aunt of Wonder Woman.



  1. Isocrates, Panathenaicus 193; Plutarch, Life of Theseus 27; Apollodorus, Epitome 1.16; Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 13.4, 557a.

  2. Apollodorus, Epitome 1.16.

  3. Scholia on Homer’s Iliad 3.189.

  4. Hyginus, Fabulae 241.

  5. Servius on Virgil’s Aeneid 11.661.

  6. Plutarch, Life of Theseus 28 (citing Pindar, frag. 176 Snell).

  7. Others called her Hippolyta, Melanippe, or Glauce; see above.

  8. See Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.2.1.

  9. Diodorus of Sicily, Library of History 4.28.4; Plutarch, Life of Theseus 27.4; Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.2.1.

  10. On the “Attic War,” see also Isocrates, Panegyricus 42, 68, 70, Areopagiticus 75, and Panathenaicus 193; Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.41.7, 2.32.9, 5.11.4, 5.11.7; etc.

  11. Theseid (fragments); see Plutarch, Life of Theseus 28.

  12. Apollodorus, Epitome 1.16–17; cf. 5.2, where the name of Theseus’ Amazon bride is Hippolyta rather than Antiope, and where Apollodorus records that in some versions it was Hippolyta’s Amazon companion Penthesilea who (accidentally) killed her in the struggle.

  13. Hyginus, Fabulae 241, trans. Mary Grant. See also Ovid, Heroides 4.117ff.

  14. For this myth, see especially Euripides’ Hippolytus.

Primary Sources


  • Euripides: The tragedy Hippolytus (428 BCE) tells the story of Hippolytus, the son of Theseus and Antiope (who is not named in the tragedy).

  • Diodorus of Sicily: There are references to the myth of Antiope in Book 4 of the Library of History (first century BCE).

  • Plutarch: The myth of Antiope is summarized in the Life of Theseus (first century CE).

  • Pausanias: There are some references to Antiope in the Description of Greece (second century CE).

  • Apollodorus: The myth of Antiope is briefly summarized in the Epitome (first century BCE or first few centuries CE).


  • Ovid: There are references to Antiope and her death in Heroides 4 (late first century BCE). 

  • Seneca: The tragedy Phaedra (first century BCE/first century CE), like Euripides’ Hippolytus, deals with the downfall of Hippolytus, the son of Theseus and Antiope.

  • Hyginus: There are references to Antiope in the Fabulae, a mythological handbook of the first or second century CE.

  • Justin: Antiope features in Justin’s second-century CE summary (or “Epitome”) of a historical work by Pompeius Trogus (second century BCE). She is described as ruling the Amazons alongside her sister Orithyia.

  • Orosius: Antiope appears in Book 1 of the Histories against the Pagans (fifth century CE) in a section summarizing the history of the Amazons. 

Secondary Sources

  • Block, Josine H. The Early Amazons: Modern and Ancient Perspectives on a Persistent Myth. Leiden: Brill, 1995.

  • Devambez, Pierre and Aliki Kauffmann-Samaras. “Amazones.” In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 1, 586–653. Zurich: Artemis, 1981.

  • DuBois, Page. Centaurs and Amazons: Women and the Pre-History of the Great Chain of Being. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991.

  • Gantz, Timothy. Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources. 2 vols. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

  • Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. London: Penguin, 1955.

  • Harder, Ruth Elisabeth. “Antiope.” In Brill’s New Pauly, edited by Hubert Cancik, Helmuth Schneider, Christine F. Salazar, Manfred Landfester, and Francis G. Gentry. Published online 2006.

  • Kauffmann-Samaras, Aliki. “Antiope II.” In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 1, 857–59. Zurich: Artemis, 1981.

  • Kerényi, Károly. The Heroes of the Greeks. London: Thames and Hudson, 1974.

  • Man, John. Searching for the Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World. New York: Pegasus Books, 2018.

  • Mayor, Adrienne. The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014.

  • Ridgway, Brunilde Sismondo. “A Story of Five Amazons.” American Journal of Archaeology 78 (1974): 1–17.

  • Rose, H. J. A Handbook of Greek Mythology. London: Methuen, 1929.

  • Smith, William. “Antiope.” In A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Spottiswoode and Company, 1873. Perseus Digital Library. Accessed August 23, 2021.

  • Tyrrell, William Blake. Amazons: A Study in Athenian Mythmaking. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.

  • Von Bothmer, Dietrich. Amazons in Greek Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957.

  • Wilde, Lyn Webster. A Brief History of the Amazons: Women Warriors in Myth and History. London: Robinson, 2017.


Kapach, Avi. “Antiope (daughter of Ares).” Mythopedia, November 29, 2022.

Kapach, Avi. “Antiope (daughter of Ares).” Mythopedia, 29 Nov. 2022. Accessed on 6 Jun. 2024.

Kapach, A. (2022, November 29). Antiope (daughter of Ares). Mythopedia.


  • Avi Kapach

    Avi Kapach is a writer, scholar, and educator who received his PhD in Classics from Brown University

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