The Virgin

The maiden is most often life incarnate--Psyche questing for her lover, climbing toward motherhood and the elevation to goddess. She is the chaste Athena or Artemis. But she is also the sensuous and independent Aphrodite. In her darker aspect, she is Circe or Brynhild, bringing death to warriors.  In this context, “virgin” is not about sex, but is more accurately defined as “beholden to no man.”  “Virginity was to these ancients in their wisdom a grace not lost but perpetually renewed, hence the immortal maidenhood of Aphrodite.” --Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (London: Merlin Press, 1962), 312.

A subset of the heroine’s journey is that of the Warrior Woman: Mu Lan, Atlanta, Athena, Artemis, Eowyn, all the Amazons and Valkyries. Swordswomen Tomoe Gozen and Hangaku Gozen from Japanese battle epics. History gives us Boudicca, who led a rebellion against Rome; Queen Tomyris, defeater of Cyrus the Great; Artemisia, general of Xerxes; Joan of Arc, who liberated France and became a saint. In modern retellings she is Ellen Ripley of the Alien movies, Xena, Max Guevara of Dark Angel, Nikita, Lara Croft, Red Sonja, Alanna of The Song of the Lioness Quartet, Katniss of The Hunger Games, and many superheroes like Wonder Woman and Elektra

And while they bathed Diana in their streams,
Actaeon, wandering through the unknown woods,
entered the precincts of that sacred grove;
with steps uncertain wandered he as fate
directed, for his sport must wait till morn.—
soon as he entered where the clear springs welled
or trickled from the grotto's walls, the nymphs,
now ready for the bath, beheld the man,
smote on their breasts, and made the woods resound,
suddenly shrieking. Quickly gathered they
to shield Diana with their naked forms, but she
stood head and shoulders taller than her guards.—
as clouds bright-tinted by the slanting sun,
or purple-dyed Aurora, so appeared
Diana's countenance when she was seen.

Oh, how she wished her arrows were at hand!
But only having water, this she took
and dashed it on his manly countenance,
and sprinkled with the avenging stream his hair,
and said these words, presage of future woe;
“Go tell it, if your tongue can tell the tale,
your bold eyes saw me stripped of all my robes.”
No more she threatened, but she fixed the horns
of a great stag firm on his sprinkled brows;
she lengthened out his neck; she made his ears
sharp at the top; she changed his hands and feet;
made long legs of his arms, and covered him
with dappled hair—his courage turned to fear.
--Ovid's Metamorphosis. Chapter 3