Gorgo

gorgofilmNew trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire, and other two characters from Frank Miller‘s original graphic novel appear. The first one is Queen Gorgo, portrayed by Lena Headey. In the trailer, she’s seen mourning her husband’s death, but she seems quite ready to take her revenge, allying herself with Athens in order to stop Xerxes‘ army once and for all. In the first movie, her role was quite expanded from the cameo she had in the comics, as she faces an attempt from Theron, a slimy and corrupt politician, to make the Spartan government bow to Xerxes. In the comics, her role is much smaller, but since she’s based on the historical character of the same name, there’s plenty to say about her nevertheless.

Gorgo was born the only daughter of King Cleomenes, the ruler of the Greek city of Sparta. She was raised as a Spartan princess, that is without the slightest privilege. She trained with boys in the gym, tought to read and count and write, to ride charriots, to dance and sing, and, since she was also a member of the royal family, she was instructed in the ways of politics. She gorgocomics1gave a good example of being a gifted queen-to-be when the tyrant of MiletusAristagoras, came to Sparta to ask Cleomenes support for his rebellions against the Persians. Gorgo, stil a child of nine years old, studied the stranger, despising his weak attitude (when she saw a slave tying his sandals, she harshly commented: “This man has no hands!”), and advised her father not to listen to him, warning of severe consequences. The king followed his daughter’s advice. Unfortunately, Cleomenes slowly went mad, and, after being deposed, he tried to lead an army against Sparta itself, only to commit suicide the moment he was utterly defeated. Gorgo’s future didn’t seem so bright, but she was still a strong and determined young woman: when a foreigner tried to court her, she surprised him when she made fun of him, saying he wouldn’t have been suitable even for a female role in the theatre (it wasn’t common for a woman to speak freely to a man at that time). In her intention, she would have only been married to a true Spartan: no other man in the world could rightfully call himself a man.

At Cleomenes’ death, his half-brother Leonidas became the new king, and in him Gorgo finally found a man worthy of her. She married him, becoming his queen, an eighteen years old girl bride to a fifty years old man. The two had a son, Pleistarchus, the new heir to the throne. She proved to possess a bright and swift intelligence when Sparta received a wax tablet from Demaratus, gorgocomics2who was king of Sparta before Cleomenes, at that time exiled in Persia. Nobody could guess what the gift meant, until Gorgo ordered it to be put on the fire. When the wax melted, it revealed a stone tablet underneath, in which a warning message was written: King Xerxes was moving war to all Greece. Leonidas moved to intercept the enemies’ army with only 300 soldiers, in order to buy some time for the rest of the poleis to prepare for the real war. Gorgo said farewell to her husband with the usual words for Spartan warriors: “come back with your shield, or above it”, victorious or dead. Leonidas, knowing he wouldn’t have come back, told his wife to marry a good man and to have children with him. When Leonidas died, she helped her brother-in-law, now regent, Cleombrotus, to rule over Sparta, and she did the same with Pausanias, his son and new regent when the first died. Eventually, the throne fell upon Pleistarchus, and what happened of Gorgo, whether she followed her husband’s last advice or not, remains unknown.

Queen Gorgo is a strong-willed, intelligent and self-confident woman, who’s been tried since she was a child in the art of government. A capable queen, she’s at par with her king, and she rules with an authority coming from her abilities and skills, not from her blood right. An artist and a warrior, a politician and a lover, a cultured woman and an athlete, Gorgo is the apotheosis of the Spartan education, a woman who is inferior to no man.

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3 Comments

  1. […] to the Oracle. Dilios appears once again, this time missing an eye, first telling Themistocles Queen Gorgo is not exactly eager to join the other Greek cities in the last battle in Salamis, then appearing […]

  2. […] give word of it. At last, he joins Themistocles in battle with the Spartan ships, led directly by Queen Gorgo, thirsty for vengeance. His role in the comics is overall a secondary one, but he’s present […]

  3. […] and followed his king as a simple soldier. He married Cleomenes’ daughter, his half-niece Gorgo, a strong woman who compensated with her cunning intelligence the impulsive nature of her husband. […]


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