The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the heroics of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to one today: Hydna of Scione, whom I doubt many have heard of before.

Hydna of Scione was born around 500 BC to Scyllis of Scione, a diving instructor and expert swimmer who taught the art of swimming for a living. He instructed his daughter from a young age, and she became well known for her ability to dive deeply and swim long distances. Most likely, she helped her father make a living for the family.

When the Persians invaded Greece in 480 BCE, they sacked Athens and marched across the mainland after defeating the Hellenes at Thermopylae. The Persian navy then sought to destroy the rest of the Hellenic force in the naval battle at Salamis. If the Persians won at Salamis, Hellas would be lost, and so Scyllis and his daughter volunteered to stop this from happening.

Together, they swam to where the Persian navy was moored for the night. Knives in hand, they silently swam among the boats, cutting their moorings. Tossed about by the wind and waves, the ships crashed together; some sank; most were crippled. And so battle was avoided for the time being. This feat is even more impressive when one considers that, in order to perform it, Hydna and Scyllis had to swim ten miles into the sea in the middle of a storm.

Their story comes from the Hellenic historian Pausanius in his 'Description of Greece':

"Beside the Gorgias is a votive offering of the Amphictyons, representing Scyllis of Scione, who, tradition says, dived into the very deepest parts of every sea. He also taught his daughter Hydna to dive. When the fleet of Xerxes was attacked by a violent storm off Mount Pelion, father and daughter completed its destruction by dragging away under the sea the anchors and any other security the triremes had." [10.19.1]

Pausanias goes on to note that, in return for this deed, the Amphictyons dedicated statues of Scyllis and his daughter at Delphi, making clear that their deed was, indeed, heroic and worthy of favour from both mortals and Gods.