Camilla and Tomoe: female warriors in Virgil and in medieval Japan

Yamagata, Naoko (2014). Camilla and Tomoe: female warriors in Virgil and in medieval Japan. Proceedings of the Virgil Society, 28 pp. 81–98.



This paper examines the character of Camilla in the Aeneid. She is a heavily studied subject, but I would like to ask two questions which I believe are still current and pertinent: (1) What are Camilla's models? and (2) What functions might Camilla be fulfilling within the Aeneid? She is unknown outside the poem, and it is almost certain that Virgil created her out of many elements. Evidence within the text will be our first port of call, but I believe it will also be useful to bring in observations afforded by a comparative approach, using both female warriors in Homer (and other Greek sources as appropriate) and Tomoe, a female warrior in the <Tale of the Heike<.i>(Heike hereafter) from medieval Japan. Most similarities with Greek sources can be attributed to direct influence, but in the case of Heike, we can safely rule out any such possibility. Rather, we are more likely to be looking at common ideas in world literature stemming from human universals. This perspective can provide new insight into the function of female warriors in the male-dominated epic world of war.

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