Whoosh! Issue20 - May 1998


IAXS project #072
By Alison Hinderliter
Copyright © 1998 held by author
1165 words

Author's Note: I finished this essay two days before seeing the new [ahem] animated movie, which, contrary to one of the main points in my essay, does give body and voice to Artemis. Hercules and Xena battle Ren, Stimpy, and Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space (or something), and Artemis is portrayed as a smart-alecky "agent provocateur" of Ares, which is totally out of character with the mythical Artemis, or even the Artemis mentioned in both Xena and Hercules. Assuming that the animated movie cut lots of corners to get released as quickly as possible, I dismiss Artemis' cartoon characterization as another cut corner.

Xena's Immortality? (01-04)
Athena (05-08)
Artemis (09-11)
Conclusion (12)

With A Little Help From My Gods:
A Theory Of Xena's Strength

Ares, coining the term

A defeated Ares catches his breath at the end of THE FURIES.

Xena's Immortality

[1] Lately I have read a great deal of discussion among e-Xenites as to Xena's possible demi-mortality (or demi-immortality, depending on your stance as an optimist or pessimist). The subject was visited heavily right after the airing of THE FURIES (47/301), which left Xena's father's identity in question. Is Ares Xena's father? Do either Ares or Xena know for sure? How about a blood test? Should DNA forensic specialists be brought in?

[2] One of the most compelling reasons for bestowing demi-godhood on our Warrior Princess character is her amazing feats of gymnastic strength and apparent invincibility. Arguably, a mere mortal would not be able to beat up Ares [THE FURIES (47/310)], outsmart and defeat two immortals-cum-goddesses [Callisto and Velasca in A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214)], or to be able to leap from the top of an evergreen tree on a cliff, ululating all the while, and land safely at the top of a ship's mainmast, chakram and body intact and looking good [LOST MARINER (45/221)]!

[3] The theory I have held since I first saw XWP is that Xena, albeit with many skills, does occasionally get some assistance from like-minded gods.

[4] I find it interesting that while the producers of XWP choose to represent gods Ares, Aphrodite, Zeus, Hera, Bacchus, Cupid, Hades, and Poseidon as visible beings, two of the most powerful, influential, and yes, popular goddesses are often spoken of but never seen: Athena and Artemis.


[5] Athena, goddess of cleverness, courage and strength in war, is an obvious compliment to Xena's way of thinking. She was born by springing from Zeus' head in full armor, shouting a war cry and ready for a fight. She is a favorite of Zeus and an occasional foe of Ares (she was the one responsible for wounding Ares in the Trojan War, by guiding the spear of Diomedes).

[6] It is clearly delineated in THE LOST MARINER (45/221) that Poseidon is angry with both Xena and Athena, and I would think that Athena would delight in helping Xena make a mockery of Poseidon's jealousy and power.

[7] According to many Greek tales, Athena is quite willing to assist mortals in need. Perseus would never have been able to kill the Gorgon, Medusa, if Athena had not stepped in and lent him her shield, leather bag, and crucial information.

[8] As an added bonus, Athena is known to be quite the craftswoman. She is credited with creating many crafts and trades to keep her amused. In addition to inventing the bridle, she taught mortals how to spin, weave, and sew, and how to paint. Little did we know, until THE BLACK WOLF (11/111) episode, that Xena embroiders! Both Xena and Athena show us that embellishing a garment and kicking *ss are not mutually exclusive activities!


The head later turned up as a spittoon for

A statue of Artemis graces her temple... just before Velasca fries it in A NECESSARY EVIL.

[9] Artemis is the moon goddess, and also the goddess of hunting. Many stories in Greek mythology portray her as easily offended, vengeful, and ferocious. In one of the most famous tales about her, she punishes the hunter, Actaeon, (who peeked at her when she was bathing) by turning him into a deer and setting his own dogs on him. Harsh. Another time she set a boar upon Calydon to destroy the town, because Calydon's king forgot to pay her due sacrifice.

[10] With these examples in mind, it seems Artemis would not be the type of goddess who would sit back and calmly watch a temple of hers being destroyed by upstart goddess Velasca, fresh from an ambrosia buzz and bent on desecration! What would be the best way for Artemis to punish Velasca? She is not known for taking human form on Earth, however, she could provide Xena the stamina to survive several lightning blows, including one that sends Xena across a ravine into a stone wall!

[11] In XWP, Artemis is the fave goddess of the Amazons. We all know that in the HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110) episode, Gabrielle became an Amazon princess [and in THE QUEST (37/213), Amazon queen] through right of caste, thereby linking herself with Artemis. We also know a bit of the Amazon way of life, as briefly explained by Amazon princess Terreis before her untimely death. From birth, Amazons are taught fighting skills, philosophy and history. Who better represents the Amazon ideal than the Xena/Gabrielle fighting team? While we rarely witness Xena or Gabrielle worshiping a particular god or goddess, Gabrielle does associate herself with Artemis just by virtue of defining herself as an Amazon. Both must realize that Artemis is a brave and powerful ally.


[12] Throughout XWP episodes, we have seen characters invoking the gods; praying to them, calling to them for backup, courage, or mercy (I am thinking in particular of Zeus and Athena). It has already been established that Xena has very unique relationships with the gods. She can bargain with Hades, stand up to Ares and Poseidon, outwit Hera, cut deals with Cupid, and beat Bacchus at his own game. It is not so much of a stretch to think of her as channeling a god's strength in order to accomplish a task or get rid of a villain.


Hinderliter Alison Hinderliter
Three years ago I was riding the train to work and I saw a billboard for a Hercules series and a new series starring a bronzy, tough-looking young woman named "Xena: Warrior Princess." I tuned in that first day, expecting some campy awfulness, but wow, goodness, was I shocked! Someone had actually managed to produce a Hercules that wasn't some greasy ex-wrestler fighting stunt guys in rubber costumes! And this Xena, she TOTALLY RULED! She was a beautiful, feminist, b*tt-kicking fighting machine! I've been hooked ever since.

Oh..about me? I'm 30, I'm an archivist and musician. I live in Chicago with my husband and my cat Faboo.

Favorite episode: HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110) and PROMETHEUS (08/108)
Favorite line: "I win! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha!" Xena, in THE FURIES (47/301)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)
Least favorite episode: SOLSTICE CAROL (33/209)

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