A Picture Window Onto the Real “Lost Tales of Greece”

One of the most popular video games ever, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is based loosely on the history and legends of ancient Greece. We thought it would be an interesting story to introduce the game’s latest update from The Lost Tales of Greece quest, along with a window into the Greece of today. In this segment we take a look at “Old Flames Burn Brighter” the latest AC Odyssey Quest adventure.

This episode revolves around Kassandra (458 or 453 BCE – 2018 CE), who is known as the Eagle Bearer or West Wind. She was allegedly a Spartan mercenary who fought during the Peloponnesian War. Unfortunately, the character is totally fictitious, but today’s games do get a lot of looks because of many a super cool and sexy female heroine.

Battle of the Amazons by Peter Paul Rubens

Spartan women did have a lot more freedom and status than in other parts of ancient Greece, but there are few instances in history that show that they were trained as soldiers or mercenaries. Women of Sparta did train as athletes, as equestrians, and in throwing javelins, etc. There’s some evidence that girls might have competed in gymnopaedia, the Spartan festival of naked youths.

There is a noted exception though. A wealthy Spartan queen named Archidamia is said to have led Spartan women against Pyrrhus, who was the king of the Greek tribe of Molossians. This would have been a rather epic moment in Greek history since Pyrrhus was a direct descendant of Alexander the Great. And then there was Euryleonis, who was an athlete from Sparta who won the 2 horse chariot races of the Ancient Olympic Games in 368 BC.

Gorgo, Queen of Sparta
Gorgo, Queen of Sparta – From the film “300”

The most famous Spartan woman, by far, was Queen Gorgo of Sparta (c. 490 BCE) who was the wife of Leonidas I. She is notable because she was no only the daughter of a king of Sparta, but the wife of another, and the mother of a third. According to Plutarch, before the Battle of Thermopylae, knowing that her husband’s death in battle was inevitable, she asked him what to do. Leonidas replied, “marry a good man who will treat you well, bear him children, and live a good life.” Queen Gorgo never remarried and her son Pleistarchus grew up to take the throne. Her son would become famous for being the architect of the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Plataea.

Statue of Athena as it stood at the Acropolis.
Lest we forget the goddess – Reconstruction of Athena Promachos at Acropolis Davide Mauro

Other famous Spartan or Greek women include Hydna of Scione, who was a swimming and diving expert; and the poet Telesilla of Argos, who once led a force against invading Spartans.

Whether or not Spartan women were the equals of their male counterparts in battle, they were seen as the vehicle by which Sparta constantly advanced. Returning to Kassandra of the AC Lost Tales of Greece, she is supposed to be the granddaughter of King Leonidas I, a badass with a heritage to match. Since it is sure that Gorgo’s son Pleistarchus had no make heir, the Leonidas connection is at best plausible.

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