A rebuilt and relocated Themyscira as seen in Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #177 (Feb 2002), art by Phil Jimenez.
|First appearance||As Paradise Island:
All Star Comics #8
Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #1
|Created by||William Moulton Marston
Harry G. Peter
|In story information|
|Notable people||Wonder Woman
Themyscira (pronounced Them-mes-skera) ( pronunciation (help·info)) is a fictional island nation in the DC Comics universe that is the place of origin of Wonder Woman and her sister Amazons. Known as Paradise Island since Wonder Woman and the island's first appearance in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941), it was renamed "Themyscira" with the character's February 1987 relaunch in Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #1.1 The island is named after the mythological city of Themiscyra, the capital of the Amazon tribe in Greek mythology.
When Wonder Woman's homeland is first introduced in 1941, it is referred to as Paradise Island, a secret and hidden island inhabited by the Amazons of myth. The Amazons had grown tired of the evil ways of mankind in ancient Greece after being enslaved by Hercules and had separated themselves to this island where they could practice a peaceful way of life and cultivate their minds. With the island blessed by the Olympian Gods, no man is allowed to physically set foot on it. When United States Army intelligence officer Steve Trevor's plane crashes there during World War II, he is nursed back to health on the nearby Island of Healing by Princess Diana, daughter of the island's Queen Hippolyta. Diana soon competes against other Amazons to become Wonder Woman, the representative from Paradise island who will accompany Steve back to "Man's World" and aid in the fight against the Axis powers. It is established that all Amazons are adept at a discipline called "bullets and bracelets" in which they are able to deflect bullets fired at them using the metal cuffs on their wrists.
This basic back-story remains intact throughout the Golden Age and Silver Age of Comic Books, until the 1985-1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline. Upon the conclusion of this limited series, most characters in the DC Comics universe underwent some revamp or retcon in their storyline history, and Wonder Woman was one of several characters whose entire continuity was rebooted.
The 1987 relaunch of Wonder Woman establishes that the Amazons are the reincarnated souls of women slain throughout pre-history by men. Shaped from clay over 3,000 years previous and given new lives by five Olympian goddesses — Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Hestia, and Aphrodite — the Amazons are granted immortality, great physical strength, highly acute senses, beauty, wisdom, and love for one another. They are tasked to teach the merits of virtue, love, and equality to the men of “Patriarch’s World.2 " They found the city-state of Themyscira in ancient Turkey,3 which is ruled by sisters Hippolyta and Antiope. Ares, the God of War and a chief opponent of the Amazons, manipulates his half brother Heracles to gather forces and attack Themyscira. Heracles subdues and ravages Hippolyta, and his forces succeed in ransacking Themyscira and making the Amazons their slaves. Hippolyta pleads with the goddesses for help. Athena agrees to aid the Amazons, but only if they do not go against their purpose of creation by seeking revenge. When they agree to her terms, Athena frees the Amazons from their chains. Once freed, however, the Amazons proceed to slaughter most of their captors. Antiope leads a force of Amazons off into Greece, seeking vengeance on Heracles. As decreed by the goddesses, Hippolyta leads the remaining Amazons to a remote island where, as penance for their failures as teachers, they become guardians of Doom’s Doorway, preventing the escape of the monsters beneath. Renaming the island paradise Themyscira after their fallen capital, the Amazons began their new lives, erecting buildings and monuments and perfecting their skills as artisans and warriors.
For centuries the Amazons of Themyscira live in a perfect state of harmony with their surroundings. They knew no racism, although many consider Antiope's Lost Tribe of Amazons as little more than savages. They did not think in terms of male gender; the word “policeman” is alien to them until Diana’s departure into the outside world. Homosexuality is completely accepted — while some Amazons are chaste, others have loving consorts. Their city is composed entirely of Greco-Roman architecture from 1200 B.C., and they wear Greek garb, togas, sandals, and period armor. The Amazons also all wear the Bracelets of Submission as constant reminders of their past, though only Diana is able to deflect bullets with them. They are fervently religious, worshipping their gods as living deities. Artemis is their primary goddess, and they worship her with a sacrifice of a deer. The Amazons celebrate their creation each year in a Feast of Five, remembering the goddesses who brought them to life.
Occasionally, the Nereides bring to the shores of Themyscira young infants who would have otherwise drowned in accidents. Called "sending forth," these infants would be tutored spiritually in Amazonian ideals, and then sent back mystically to the place of their disappearance. Julia Kapatelis, Diana’s first friend in Patriarch’s World, is one such infant.
Themyscira is presently located in the Bermuda Triangle, but possesses the magical ability to teleport to any location or time period its inhabitants desire.
In recent times, Hippolyta’s daughter Diana, also known as Wonder Woman, has become an ambassador to the outside world. With Diana’s help, the Amazons have opened the shores of Themyscira to dignitaries of “Patriarch’s World”. The creatures beneath Doom’s Doorway were defeated, and for a time the Amazons destroyed their battle armor as testament to a new period of peace. The Amazons opened up their shores to dignitaries from Patriarch’s world, female and male, but that exchange was almost destroyed by Eris, Goddess of Discord. The Amazons even conducted their own tour of the United States, where they were framed for the murders of several people by Antiope’s descendants, the mercenary assassins of Bana-Mighdall, and Circe. It was during the War of the Gods that the Amazons recrafted their armory, vowing to once again become warriors. Circe would transplant many of these mercenary women of Bana-Migdhall, called the Lost Tribe, to Themyscira, where, after warring with the Amazons already there, joined forces to stop Circe herself. The two sects of Amazons forged an uneasy truce, living at opposite ends of the island.
Professor Julia Kapatelis, close friend to Wonder Woman and the Amazons, was later presented with a grant by the National Geographic Society to locate the original Turkish city of Themyscira.3 Unfortunately Julia had to leave the excavation mid-way through the project once one of her daughter's friends committed suicide.4 Whether the original city of Themyscira has been fully excavated or not has not been shown.
Later still, Darkseid’s forces ravaged Themyscira during a search to locate the Greek gods, killing nearly half of the Amazons there in the process. As they began rebuilding, the Amazons found themselves reverting to stone. This was as a result of the gods’ departure from the mortal plane, and the Amazons’ connection to their creator beings so diminished as to revert their bodies to their primordial state. With the gods returned to Olympus, the Amazons were once again transformed into their flesh and blood state. Yet more Amazons were killed in a confrontation with the demonic entity known as Neron.
With Diana and Hippolyta adventuring in Patriarch’s World as Wonder Woman for longer and longer periods of time, the Banas and the Themyscirans were manipulated into a bloody civil war at the hands of Magala, who had been possessed by the spirit of Antiope’s murderer, Ariadne. Using the pre-existing disdain of the tribes against each other, Magala used allies among both Amazon cities to spark the vengeful conflict. The island was left in ruins, and the war was only stopped when Hippolyta abolished the royal family, renounced her throne.
Left at odds but on even political ground, the Bana Amazons and the Themyscirans joined forces against the alien forces of Imperiex. Themyscira, mystically moved into outer space, was destroyed, and hundreds of Amazons from both tribes died.1 When Wonder Woman led each tribe of Amazons into an ecumenical prayer, funneling power into the new god Darkseid, the warrior women helped destroy Imperiex and its ally Brainiac 13.
After the island had been destroyed by Imperiex during the Our Worlds at War storyline, Themyscira was rebuilt and relocated once again, this time to the Bermuda Triangle.1 Designed by the likes of Julia Kapatelis, the Martian Manhunter, Steve Trevor, Canadian architect Jean Claude Tibet, and Amazon master designer Kaleeza Fashed, the new Themyscira was built with the help of alien technology. Adding to the re-creation of the islands, Themyscira was restored by the combined might of the Greek and Egyptian goddesses the Amazons worship. Transformed into a mighty series of floating islands dedicated to the free exchange of information and ideas, the new Themyscira was governed by members of both tribes of Amazons. After some time Themyscira was nearly destroyed in a jealous fit of rage by the goddess Hera.1 Because of her actions the islands ceased to float in mid-air under their own power and instead resumed being a cluster of traditional islands once more.
Recently, Themyscira was under attack by OMAC forces, as described in DC Comics's Infinite Crisis. Due to this attack, as well as the many various other attacks the island has suffered through since Diana became Wonder Woman, it was decided that the Olympian and Bana-Mighdallian goddesses would transport the island and its inhabitants (sans Diana) to an undisclosed location to live in peace.
Under the direction of writer Will Pfeifer the Amazons attack Washington D.C. as retaliation for the attack on the island in a six-part mini-series titled Amazons Attack. At the end of the series the Amazons have their memories erased by Granny Goodness (posing as the goddess Athena), and are scattered throughout the world with false personas. Only Hippolyta and four of her original Royal Guard remain on Themyscira.
Zeus then revives the Amazons' memories and provides transport for them to return to Themyscira.
As shown in the comic, the Amazons hold several customs and observances. Some include:
When an Amazon wishes to court another, the most interested Amazon presents herself before her intended mate and offers her a coconut. Inside the coconut is a nectarine seed strung onto a necklace and a bracelet made of thorns. The nectarine seed signifies a bounty, hoped for but not yet achieved. The thorn bracelet is partially wrapped in blue, red and gold ribbons. The blue represents hope, the red represents danger, and the gold represents a request to the goddess Athena to provide her blessing. The pursuer then takes out the necklace and says "That thou art full of promise", blesses it with a kiss and places the necklace around her intended lover's neck. She then takes out the bracelet and says "That thou shall know the heart of another" and places the bracelet on her intended lover's wrist. If the person gifted chooses to accept the courtship, she then agrees to always wear the necklace and bracelet and never remove them until it can be mutually agreed upon to form a lasting relationship together. Until the two Amazons agree to finalize their relationship, the couple puts each other through a series of physical, mental and emotional tests to see if the intended relationship can withstand life's trials.5
One of the most revered observances the Themyscirian Amazons hold dear is called The Feast of the Five. On this day the Amazons pay homage to the five original goddesses who took part in their creation. Aside from constant prayer and worship the occasion begins with a hunt in honor to the goddess Artemis. A harvest is also celebrated in honor of the goddess Demeter. A feast is then held in honor of the remaining goddesses. This is said to be the Themyscirians' most holy holiday. The Feast of the Five can be seen almost as a holy birthday for each of the Themyscirian Amazons, with the glory of the occasion being placed in honor to their creators.
The Amazons observe an ancient Greek custom called Hiketeia, in which one person supplicates themselves to another in exchange for sustinance and protection. The supplication does not have to be accepted once offered, but when it is accepted both parties agree to take the contract very seriously. Should either the guardian or supplicant ever falter in their duties, the Erinyes, ancient and savage judgement bringers, will slaughter them instantly. When Hiketeia is offered, the supplicant says the following words to their intended guardian: "(Name of potential guardian), I am (name of potential servant). I offer myself in supplicaton to you. I come without protection. I come without means, without honor, without hope, with nothing but myself to beg for your protection. In your shadow I will serve, by your breath will I breathe, by your words will I speak, by your mercy will I live. With all my heart, with everything I can offer, I beg you, in Zeus' name, who watches over all supplicants, accept my plea."
When a female child is lost at sea, the child is rescued from drowning by the goddess Thetis. Thetis would rescue mortal female children she deemed "special" and safely transport them to the shores of Themyscira's Island of Healing. (Male children were taken someplace else.) Once on the island the Amazon's chief physician Epione would discover them and tend to their care. After this the child would be taken to the royal palace where one Amazon is selected as the child's "Guardian of Inspiraton". The baby is then granted great wisdom and strength of spirit via a magical kiss. According to the Amazon Pythia, Julia Kapatelis was the last of hundreds of babies to experience this in 1937. This "blessing" in actuality is a subliminal suggestion for the child to teach peace and equality throughout their lives. This blessing can extend to descendants as well. This custom is called "Send Forth". Once this is done the child is considered an Amazon and spiritual daughter to the Amazon who blessed them. After a few days of recouperation and blessings the child is taken to the island shores again where she is taken back into the ocean and returned, again by Thetis who magically travels back in time to return the child to the exact point in time when the child first left her homeland.6
All Themyscirian Amazons possesses the ability to relieve their bodies of physical injury and toxins by becoming one with the Earth's soil and then reforming their bodies whole again.7 The first time Diana does this she prays to her god Gaea saying: "Gaea, I pray to you. Grant me your strength. You are the Earth who suckled me, who nurtured and bred me. Through you all life is renewed. The circle which never ends. I pray you, mother Gaea, take me into your bosom. Please, let me be worthy." This is a very sacred ritual to the Themyscirians, only to be used in the most dire of circumstances.8
Originally a cavern was built under the Amazons' Temple of the Dead, which is where those dead are remembered. After an Amazon's funeral is completed the body is lowered into the cavern where it is laid to rest in a city of the dead. Queen Hippolyta assigns the chief temple priestess to remain alone in the city to watch over the dead for a thousand years before a replacement is made.
This tradition was later changed as the Amazons discovered that the priestess often went mad in their solitude. One such priestess brought the dead to life through the use of magic during a mad outburst. The Amazons soon after burned their dead during which the souls of the slain Amazons took form among the flames before traveling onto the plane of afterlife called the Elysian Fields.
When the Wonder Woman comic book was first introduced Paradise Island possessed giant kangaroos that the Amazons rode like horses called Kangas. Diana's Kanga was named Jumpa.
When the comic book was revamped and started anew in the mid-1980s this was scrapped and the island only had common game animals such as deer, wild boar, horses, and fish. The only exotic/mythological creatures on the island were more sinister in nature and existed in Doom's Doorway to the underworld, which the Amazons swore to keep trapped and never to escape. In the waters surrounding Themyscira also lived Naiads and in the forests Dryads who played most of their days away, occasionally with the Amazons.
In 1999 when writer Eric Luke took over the Wonder Woman comic book he had several lost mythical creatures from around the globe take asylum on Themyscira. These creatures consisted of: Chiron the Centaur, a white Pegasus, Ladon the Dragon, a chimera, and a Sphinx.9
Then when writer Phil Jimenez wrote the title in the early 2000s he had several dinosaurs from the land of Skartaris also take refuge on Themyscira, in addition to the reappearance of Kangas on the island. To date no Kangas have been seen as riding animals.
The 2007 storyline Amazons Attack! depicted the Amazons as having creatures such as giant Stygen wasps and some domesticated winged horses, large amounts of saddled chimeras, and 3 titan sized ogres. Then in 2007/2008 the Countdown to Final Crisis storyline introduced the then new revelation that the island is protected by a school of Megalodons.
When writer Gail Simone took over the title she showed that Hippolyta cared for griffins in the royal stables. She also introduced the island of Thalarion, the home of Gargareans during the Rise of the Olympian storyline. The Gargareans possessed herds of winged horses similar to Themyscira but also possessed flocks of winged lions as well. Their leader Achilles also has a domesticated battle elephant named Mysia who has two trunks, two mouths, three glowing eyes, an impenetrable hide, and the ability to walk on air. As the Gargareans incorporated themselves among the Amazons of Themyscira it is safe to assume these creatures also reside there.
(All cited Wonder Woman title appearances are from the second series which began in November, 1987.)
- Acantha—a senator (first appearance: Wonder Woman #10)
- Aella—a warrior with a particular affinity for hawks; died during the Amazon civil war (first appearance: Wonder Woman #1)
- Antiope -- Hippolyta’s sister and an Amazon queen; she led a tribe into Greece to seek vengeance on Heracles and Theseus after the Amazons’ capture; she eventually married Theseus but was killed by his former lover Ariadne. Antiope’s descendants became the Lost Tribe of Amazons. (first appearance: Wonder Woman #1)
- Callineira -- (first appearance: Wonder Woman #121)
- Calyce—carpenter (first appearance: Wonder Woman Annual #1)
- Clio—royal scribe (first appearance: Wonder Woman #38)
- Consivia—chief architect, slain defending Doom’s Doorway (first appearance: Wonder Woman Annual #1)
- Cydippe—aid to Princess Diana (first appearance: Wonder Woman #53)
- Egeria—a lieutenant in the Amazon army and Captain of the Guard; died defending Doom’s Doorway (first appearance: Wonder Woman Annual #1)
- Epione—chief healer (first appearance: Wonder Woman #2)
- Euboea—a warrior and companion to Diana (first appearance: Wonder Woman #10)
- Eudia—helped Diana unlock the secrets of the Amazons’ reversion to stone (first appearance: Wonder Woman #12)
- Hellene—a senator and historian, a close friend to Diana who opposed the opening of Themyscira’s shores to Patriarch’s World; she was murdered by the Cheetah during the War of the Gods (first appearance: Wonder Woman #14)
- Hypsiple—former queen of Lemnos, mother of Phthia, the martyr of the Lost Tribe of Amazons (first appearance: Wonder Woman Annual #1)
- Io—blacksmith in love with Diana (first appearance: Wonder Woman #196)
- Iphthime—sculptor and lover to Anaya of the Lost Tribe of Amazons (first appearance Wonder Woman #27)
- Magala—the court sorceress; she appears as a cavewoman in Greek garb; she is responsible for casting the spell which transferred a portion of Wonder Woman’s powers to Artemis, and for the creation of Donna Troy. Magala was possessed by Ariadne, the woman who murdered Queen Antiope, and used Magala to start the Amazon civil war. Magala was killed by Fury. (first appearance: Wonder Woman #124)
- Mala—close friend to Diana, and a competitor in the second Contest (first appearance: Wonder Woman #90)
- Menalippe—high priestess, a favored of Hermes, slain by Circe (first appearance: Wonder Woman #1)
- Mnemosyne—chief historian (first appearance: Wonder Woman #10)
- Myrrha—chambermaid of the Royal Palace; died during the Imperiex War (first appearance: Wonder Woman #53)
- Nione—a priestess. (first appearance: Wonder Woman #38)
- Nu’bia—guardian of Doom’s Doorway who can turn human beings into stone. (first appearance: Wonder Woman Annual #8)
- Oeone—a botanist (first appearance: Wonder Woman #27)
- Pallas—forger of arms and armor, created Diana’s Eagle armor: (first appearance: Wonder Woman Secret Files #1)
- Penelope—high priestess and oracle of Themyscira, former lover of Menalippe (first appearance: Wonder Woman #21)
- Penthiselea -- a mighty Amazon captain and the daughter of Phthia and Melanippus, the Amazons martyr; died in battle with Achilles (first appearance: Wonder Woman #33)
- Philippus—the Captain of the Guard. Strong, decisive, and a powerful Amazon who was the young Diana’s principal trainer and has served as Queen during Hippolyta’s journey to Patriarch’s World. (first appearance: Wonder Woman #1)
- Phthia—Biological daughter of the Amazon queen of Lemnos: Hypsipyle and the Argonaut Jason. Jason abandoned Hypsipyle, Phthia and her twin brother when they were infants. Phthia was adopted by Queen Antiope when Hypsipyle died, becoming the first non-Themyscirian born Amazon to join the tribe. After Antiope's death, Phthia became queen of Antiope's tribe of Amazons which later became the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall.
- Pythia—silver haired spiritual mother of Julia Kapatelis (first appearance: Wonder Woman Annual #1)
- Timandra—chief architect (first appearance: Wonder Woman #38)
- Trigona—Amazon athlete (first appearance: Wonder Woman #0)
- Venelia—a warrior and competitor in the second Contest (first appearance: Wonder Woman #91)
All Themyscirian Amazons possess various degrees of superhuman strength,10 speed, stamina and extraordinarily acute senses which were gifts blessed to them by their gods. As shown by various tribe members, they have the capability to break apart steel and concrete with their bare hands,11 jump over 12 feet from a standing position,12 have a high durability factor,13 enhanced healing,7 and the ability to absorb and process a vast amount of knowledge in a short period of time.14 Themyscirian Amazons also possesses immortality that allows them to live indefinitely in a youthful form, but does leave them open to potential injury and death depending on their actions.2 They also have developed high levels of hand-to-hand combat training, mastered over 3,000 years, and are experts in the use of various hand held weapons.
Themyscirian Amazons also possess the ability to relieve their bodies of physical injury and toxins by becoming one with the Earth's soil and then reforming their bodies whole again.7 The first time Diana does this she prays to her god Gaea saying: "Gaea, I pray to you. Grant me your strength. You are the Earth who suckled me, who nurtured and bred me. Through you all life is renewed. The circle which never ends. I pray you, mother Gaea, take me into your bosom. Please, let me be worthy." During writer John Byrne's time on the comic it was stated that this is a very sacred ritual, to be used only in the most dire of circumstances.8
- Every headline writer who has written volume two of Wonder Woman has depicted Themyscirian slaughter:
- George Pérez - Included Heracles' rape and slaughter of the Amazons, as well as the destruction of the first Bana-Mighdall city.
- William Messner-Loebs - Depicted an Amazon tribal war over Themyscira's ownership.
- John Byrne - Had Darkseid invade Themyscira and kill half the population and turned the remainder to stone.
- Phil Jimenez - Re-introduced the Amazon tribal war over Themyscira's ownership.
- Walt Simonson - Caused a Hydra to turn the Amazons into stone.
- Greg Rucka - Had OMACs kill over half the remaining Amazon population.
- The island(s) can shift its location over both land and time.15
In the 1974 television movie Wonder Woman starring actress Cathy Lee Crosby, the island of the Amazons is shown briefly but not named. In line with comic book continuity of the time, the 1975-79 Lynda Carter television series Wonder Woman featured Paradise Island as Wonder Woman's home in several episodes. Paradise Island also appeared on the animated television series Challenge of the Super Friends in the 1978 episode "Secret Origins of the Superfriends," and The All-New Super Friends Hour in the 1980 episode "Return of Atlantis."
Post-1987, Themyscira appeared in several episodes of the Warner Brothers animated television series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited between 2001 and 2006 as the homeland of Wonder Woman. Themyscira is one of the playable stages in the 2008 video game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, with a number of Amazons appearing in several cut scenes. The island was mentioned in the 2004 Smallville episode "Asylum," a newspaper headline reads "Themysciran Queen Addresses the Vatican." In 2008 Themyscira is shown in the animated film Justice League: The New Frontier, showing Wonder Woman sparring with a fellow Amazon on a beach. In 2009 Themyscira is shown in the animated film Wonder Woman. Themyscira and its Amazons were also shown prominently in the 2010 animated film Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Themyscira appears in the 2011 Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Triumverate of Terror!", where the Joker infiltrates the island disguised as an Amazon and kidnaps Wonder Woman.
- Dougall, Alastair; Robert Greenburger, Daniel Wallace (2008-09-23). The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-7566-4119-1. OCLC 213309017. More than one of
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #1
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #36 and 41
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #46
- Wonder Woman (vol. 3) #18 and #36
- Wonder Woman Annual #1 (1988)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #30
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #120
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #142
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #104, pg. 17
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #59
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #57
- Wonder Woman: Our Worlds at War #1 (October 2001)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #3
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #104
- Beatty, Scott (2003-11). Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide To The Amazon Princess. Dorling Kindersley Publishing. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0-7894-9616-4. More than one of