Friday 23 January 2015

Breasts from the Amazons to Page Three

Amazon Queen of Czechoslovakia
This week  starred  mammary glands and their role in matriarchy and patriarchy.  I thought I knew everything about matriarchal legends, but my trip to Eastern Europe introduced me to the two Amazonian warrior queens, Libussa and Valasca, who founded Prague and ran it as socialist feminists in the 8th century AD.

 Then my review of Adrienne Mayor’s thrilling  book on the Amazons appeared in New Statesman. It is a global history of mounted warrior women, skilled in archery. Many classical myths about Amazons turn out to have archaeological substantiation. In the Tarim Basin (north-west China), a mass grave of the second/first century BC contains the skeletons of 133 male and female nomads killed in combat. One trouser leg was discovered, amazingly, to be decorated with a centaur blowing a war trumpet like those blown by Amazons and Scythians in ancient Greek art.

Just about the only Amazon myth containing no truth is that they routinely cut off one breast; this was a false etymology of Amazones, a prehistoric Iranian ethnic term unconnected to the Greek word for ‘breast’, mastos or mazos.

Speaking of present and absent breasts, I can’t be certain whether the man who in 1970 invented the Page Three Girl would have encountered Greek etymology when he attended Rastrick Grammar School in Yorkshire, but exposure to Latin and thus to Camilla, the Amazon of the Aeneid, is likely. 

 Lamb (right) with Bob Maxwell
Did Camilla excite Larry Lamb?
Albert aka ‘Larry’ Lamb, later knighted by Margaret Thatcher for insulting miners, was the son of a coalfield blacksmith. Because his father died, Larry was forced to leave school at 16, and later admitted that he had ‘a substantial chip on my shoulder, on the grounds that I am not educated, and I should have been.’ If he had gone through sixth form and university, might he have learned enough about class, gender and race to change the history of British popular journalism (he also opposed the release of Mandela)?

David Phalakros Dinsmore
We will never know. Lamb is no longer with us. To be fair, in his memoir Sunset he confided that the Page Three Girl was probably a mistake. His view is not shared by the current Sun editor David Dinsmore, a demented-looking hairless Glaswegian  whom the Greeks would have called phalakros (‘penis-head’). Reports of the demise of the Page Three Girl earlier this week were on Thursday proved to be premature by Nicole from Bournemouth. Dinsmore is a graduate, of Paisley and Columbia, in Business and Management Skills. I hope it was in the USA, not Scotland, that he learned to be such a booby.

No comments:

Post a Comment