"Man is the measure of all things"... The ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras is credited as the author of this saying. He is recognized by scholars in the school of male virtue and renowned for teaching the benefits of patriarchal status among ancient Greek society. An Athenian once asked a Spartan whether he thought the walls around Athens were beautiful, the Spartans replied "yes, if the city is full of women." The Greeks bestowed the means of protection and security of their cities on the personal virtue of the men who defended them. City walls were built to protect those who inherently were not capable of defending themselves. So much does a city wall stand to protect the women inside as the women can injure and ruin a city from within.
Aristotle commits the ruin of cities to women through deception, seduction, violence, or corruption of marriages. According to Aristotle, women and their haughtiness are the first cause among the ruin of cities and their leaders (Treatise on Government). This regard was so widely held throughout the past that Machiavelli devoted an entire chapter of his book titled How a State is Ruined Because of Women (Discourses on Livy). This view has largely persisted in western culture and only recently declined within the past 100-years.
**Possible Spoilers** Bayonetta!
There is no better example of the destruction of a city from within than Bayonetta. Her assault against the patriarchal hierarchy inside the fictional city of Vigrid is worthy of legend. Bayonetta is probably the most interesting female protagonist to grace the videogame world. She not only transgresses the traditional gender boundaries by assuming a character typically reserved for men, but also crosses physical boundaries through a circular portal and shape-shifting. Looking at the story from outside--it's completely absurd. It's important to understand that Bayonetta destroys the patriarchy established by the Lumen Sages and instates a matriarchal structure of Umbra Witches.
Bayonetta borrows themes from Dante's The Devine Comedy. The work follows Dante as he transgresses the physical boundaries of heaven, hell, and purgatory in search of religious and spiritual enlightenment. Bayonetta represents a satire of Dante, but there are some noteworthy comparisons. Three major themes presented in the Divine Comedy are theology, sin, and virtue. These themes are structured around the four Cardinal Virtues: Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, and Prudence. Historically the four Cardinal Virtues are depicted as female allegorical figures, however, in Bayonetta the virtues are depicted as male allegorical figures. Unlike Dante, Bayonetta overthrows the established patriarchy by attacking and killing the four Cardinal Virtues (Fortitudo, Temperantia, Lustitia, and Sapientia). As Bayonetta rages through the city of Vigrid she battles multiple Angels who are represented in the masculine form. Obviously, the game foils the patriarchal religious organization and invalidates the male dominated structure in humorous, violent, and inappropriate ways.
Bayonetta operates within this domain seamlessly because she herself is a physical transgression. She is a child of an Umbra Witch and a Lumen Sage, something that's apparently forbidden according to the narrative. In a sense her physical presence violates an established natural boundary. Her struggle further revolves around the fact that Balder, the top Lumen Sage, is also her father. The story ensues with a Daughter vs. Daddy battle as a metaphor for the struggles between the matriarchy and patriarchy. The game ends with the patriarchal establishment almost completely destroyed and the Umbra Witches restored.
"I would much rather stand three-times in the front of battle than birth one child." [Medea]
The mythic archetype is almost always male, he travels on an epic journey, slays certain monsters, and reinforces the virtues of patriarchal society. Bayonetta is a reversal and satire of the patriarchal society established in antiquity. The archetypal men of Vigrid are incapable of defending themselves against the haughty female protagonist. The male virtues of Vigrid and its wall, which stand to preserve the patriarchal leader Balder, are insufficient to protect them against Bayonetta. 'Man is the measure of all things?' I think Bayonetta disagrees.
The axiom more accurately reads: Moral beliefs are true for the community in which they are held. A virtue cannot be learned if its moral basis is absent within the community. Bayonetta acts as the anti-mythic-archetype by asserting the relationship of gender interactions within modern communities. Perhaps Bayonetta shows us that there are literally no boundaries when pertaining to female protagonists. She exemplifies both the desirable and less desirable virtues of male protagonists while carving out a distinctly feminine persona. She establishes herself as a unique archetypal heroine in an industry dominated by heroes.