What goes unsaid is that women might be more ambitious and focused because we’ve never had a choice. We’ve had to fight to vote, to work outside the home, to work in environments free of sexual harassment, to attend the universities of our choice, and we’ve also had to prove ourselves over and over to receive any modicum of consideration.
It was inconceivable that a young girl of 17 or 18 should make love, without being in love, with a boy of her own age, and not be punished for it. People couldn’t tolerate the idea that the girl should not fall madly in love with the boy, and not be pregnant by the end of the summer. It was unacceptable, too, that a young girl should have the right to use her body as she will, and derive pleasure from it without incurring a penalty.
#100Days100Women Day 71: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz was a scholar who corresponded with Isaac Newton, a nun who’s writings were unbound by genre or a sacred/secular divide and a 17th century Mexican woman who passionately and publicly advocated for women’s rights and education. Contemporary accounts attest to her supreme intellect, curiosity, bravery, and devotion.
Ζεὺς δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἐνὶ Κρήτῃ τρέφετο μέγας, οὐδ᾽ ἄρα τίς νιν
ἠείδει μακάρων: ὃ δ᾽ ἀέξετο πᾶσι μέλεσσι.
τὸν μὲν ἄρα τρήρωνες ὑπὸ ζαθέῳ τράφον ἄντρῳ
ἀμβροσίην φορέουσαι ἀπ᾽ Ὠκεανοῖο ῥοάων:
νέκταρ δ᾽ ἐκ πέτρης μέγας αἰετὸς αἰὲν ἀφύσσων
γαμφηλῇ φορέεσκε ποτὸν Διὶ μητιόεντι.
τὸν καὶ νικήσας πατέρα Κρόνον εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
ἀθάνατον ποίησε καὶ οὐρανῷ ἐγκατένασσεν.
ὣς δ᾽ αὕτως τρήρωσι πελειάσιν ὤπασε τιμήν,
αἳ δή τοι θέρεος καὶ χείματος ἄγγελοί εἰσι.
Great Zeus was raised in Crete, and none of the blessed gods
knew of him; and he grew strong in all his limbs.
Shy doves nourished him in a sacred grotto,
bearing ambrosia from the streams of Ocean;
and a great eagle, ever drawing nectar from a stone,
brought to and fro in its beak a drink for Zeus the wise-counselor.
Far-seeing Zeus, after conquering his father, Kronos,
made this eagle immortal, and gave it a place in heaven.
Even so he granted honor to the shy doves,
who are the messengers of summer and winter.
Moero (fl. 300 BCE). This is the sole surviving fragment of her epic, Memory, quoted in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistae 11.80.
For my author friends wishing to write about ancient/feudal japan….a few quick fact you might not know about samurai.
The Japanese bushi class, the social class from which samurai came, also included women who received similar martial training. These women were called Onna-Bugeisha. Their weapon of choice was the naginata, a spear with a curved, sword-like blade that was versatile and light. Your character can be a woman without her having to rebel or force herself into a class that doesn’t want her. A woman warrior was equally respected, trained and probably about 30% of the warrior class was made up of educated and talented women.
Samurai were often very open minded when it came to same-sex relations. The practice of an experienced samurai forming a (sexual) relationship with a youth in training was encouraged and common. Your character can be married, single, straight, gay, poly or bi without it having to be a major plot point or stressor for them, as ancient Japan had a more open mind to these things.
I look forward to reading some great warrior stories in the near future :D
Willa Sibert Cather (December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947)
American writer who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, including O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Ántonia (1918). In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours (1922), a novel set during World War I. (Wikipedia)
From our stacks: Cover and illustrations from My Ántonia By Willa Sibert Cather. With Illustrations by W. T. Brenda. Boston and new York: Houghton Mifflin Company. The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1918.
Women in ancient Greece and Rome with surviving works or fragments
Aesara of Lucania: “Only a fragment survives of Aesara of Lucania’s Book on Human Nature, but it provides a key to understanding the philosophies of Phintys, Perictione, and Theano II as well. Aesara presents a familiar and intuitive natural law theory. She says that through the activity of introspection into our own nature – specifically the nature of a human soul – we can discover not only the natural philosophic foundation for all of human law, but we can also discern the technical structure of morality, positive law, and, it may be inferred, the laws of moral psychology and of physical medicine. Aesara’s natural law theory concerns laws governing three applications of moral law: individual or private morality, laws governing the moral basis of the institution of the family, and, laws governing the moral foundations of social institutions. By analyzing the nature of the soul, Aesara says, we will understand the nature of law and of justice at the individual, familial, and social levels.” - A History of Women Philosophers: Volume I: Ancient Women Philosophers, 600 B.C.-500 A.D., by M.E. Waith
Melissa: “Melissa (3rd century BC) was a Pythagorean philosopher…Nothing is known about her life. She is known only from a letter written to another woman named Cleareta (or Clearete). The letter is written in a Doric Greek dialect dated to around the 3rd century BC. The letter discusses the need for a wife to be modest and virtuous, and stresses that she should obey her husband. The content has led to the suggestion that it was written pseudonymously by a man. On the other hand, the author of the letter does not suggest that a woman is naturally inferior or weak, or that she needs a man’s rule to be virtuous.” -Wikipedia
Perictione (I and II): “Two works attributed to Perictione have survived in fragments: On the Harmony of Women and On Wisdom. Differences in language suggest that they were written by two different people. Allen and Waithe identify them as Perictione I and Perictione II. Plato’s mother was named Perictione, and Waithe argues that she should be identified as the earlier Perictione, suggesting that similarities between Plato’s Republic and On the Harmony of Women may not be the result of Perictione reading Plato, but the opposite–the son learning philosophy from his mother. On the Harmony of Women, however, is written in Ionic prose with occasional Doric forms. This mixed dialect dates the work to the late fourth or third centuries BC. The reference in On the Harmony of Women to women ruling suggests the Hellenistic monarchies of the third century BC or later. On Wisdom is written in Doric and is partly identical with a work by Archytas of the same name. This work should be dated later, to the third or second centuries BC. Both the dates of the works and their dialects mean Perictione as the mother of Plato could not have written them. We then have two Pythagorean texts, attributed to otherwise unknown women named Perictione who should be dated perhaps one hundred years apart.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Phintys: “Phintys (or Phyntis, Greek: Φίντυς; 4th or 3rd century BC) was a Pythagorean philosopher. Nothing is known about her life, nor where she came from. She wrote a work on the correct behaviour of women, two extracts of which are preserved by Stobaeus.” -Wikipedia
Ptolemais of Cyrene: “Ptolemais is known to us through reference to her work by Porphyry in his Commentary on the Harmonics of Ptolemy. He tells us that she came from Cyrene and gives the title of her work, The Pythagorean Principles of Music, which he quotes. She is the only known female musical theorist from antiquity. Her dates cannot be known for sure. She clearly preceded Porphyry, who was born about AD 232; Didymus, who is also quoted by Porphyry, knew Ptolemais’ work and may even have been Porphyry’s source for it. This Didymus is probably the one who lived in the time of Nero, giving us a date for Ptolemais of the first century AD or earlier…One of the problems in dealing with this text is that it is in quotation. Porphyry does not clearly distinguish between the text he quotes from Ptolemais and his own discussion of the issues raised…A second issue is the problem of the accuracy of the quotation. Porphyry says in the introduction to fragment 4 that he has altered a few things in the quotation for the sake of brevity. We should not assume that this is the only quotation to have suffered from editing. On the other hand, where he quotes the same passage twice (fragment 3 is repeated almost verbatim in fragment 4) his consistency is encouraging. Ptolemais’ extant work is a catechism, written as a series of questions and answers. She discusses different schools of thought on harmonic theory, distinguishing between the degree to which they gave importance to theory and perception. Her text prefers the approach of Aristoxenus to that of the Pythagoreans, thus she should not be thought a Pythagorean, despite the title of her work.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
SCIENCE, MEDICINE, AND MANUALS
Cleopatra the Alchemist: “Three treatises survive. The Chrysopoeia consists only of a page of symbols and drawings. The title of the treatise mentioned under Comarius, and also internal evidence of Cleopatra’s treatise, indicate a first-century date. The symbols and drawings of figures are probably the earliest drawings that we have of chemical apparatus. A dialogue of Cleopatra and the philosophers’ exists in a mutilated form; it is probably of the same date as the above treatises, but cannot be attributed to Cleopatra.” -A Survey of Greek Alchemy, by F. Sherwood Taylor
Cleopatra the Physician: “How seriously, or strictly, Galen’s chronological (and indeed conceptual) pairing of Heracleides and Cleopatra should be taken is unclear. Cleopatra is certainly being located earlier than the pharmacological writers who approach Crito’s Trajanic date much more closely, but little more can be said than that. She was also cited by the Byzantine physicians Aetius of Amida and Paul of Aegina in their, respectively, sixth- and seventh-century A.D. medical encyclopaedias. Aetius includes a single, sweet-smelling unguent of ‘Queen Cleopatra’, in a chapter on facial applications. Paul incorporates a set of recipes for curling and dyeing the hair taken from ‘the books of Cleopatra’ among others dealing with the head and hair at the beginning of his third book. It has also been asserted that the surviving meteorological treatise ascribed to Cleopatra at least started life as a section of her Kostmetikon. Weights and measures, and in particular the translation between units belonging to different times and places, are of vital importance to all kinds of medical recipes. Still, none of this helps much in pinning down this Cleopatra. She remains active sometime in the first century B.C. or A.D., and, at least for Galen, stands, without comment, alongside various male medical writers; though for Aetius she possesses more monarchic qualities.” -Women, Writing and Medecine in the Classical World, by Rebecca Flemming
Philaenis: “Philaenis of Samos (in Greek, Φιλαινίς) was apparently a Greek courtesan of the 4th or 3rd centuries BC. She was commonly said to be the author of a manual on courtship and sex. The poet Aeschrion of Samos denied that his compatriot Philaenis was really the author of this notorious work. Brief fragments of the manual, including the introductory words, have been rediscovered among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (P.Oxy. 2891).” -Wikipedia
Salpe*: “[Pliny the Elder] describes medicines that were used for a wide range of ailments, from the common cold to witchcraft, and he quotes from various medical texts that were available to him. One of these was by Salpe. Pliny describes her as an obstetrix or midwife…All we have of her work is Pliny’s paraphrase of six remedies…The fragments of her work in Pliny are indirect: the original is reported rather than quoted directly, and would have been in Greek, rather than Pliny’s Latin. Pliny introduces each remedy with ‘Salpe tells us that…’ or words to that effect…The same is true of the citations of the other medical writers in Pliny: Olympias, Sotira, Lais and Elephantis.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
BIOGRAPHY AND HISTORY
Nicobule: “Nicobule or Nicobula (Greek: Νικοβούλη, Nikoboúlē) was a Greek woman who may have authored a work on the life of Alexander the Great. No biographical details of her life have been preserved. Since her name is Greek, scholars tend to suggest that she was most probably writing during the first to third centuries AD, the period in which Hellenistic scholarship was most interested in Alexander.Athenaeus (flourished circa A.D. 200) cites two passages by Nicobule in reference to Alexander the Great and, in particular, Alexander’s excessive drinking.” -Wikipedia
Pamphile of Epidaurus*: “Pamphile or Pamphila of Epidaurus (Greek: Παμφίλη, Pamphílē; Latin: Pamphila; fl. ad 1st century) was a historian who lived in the reign of Nero. According to the Suda she was an Epidaurian; Photius describes her as an Egyptian by birth or descent, which may be reconciled by supposing that she was a native of Epidaurus, and that her family came from Egypt. Photius summarizes the preface to her work, in which we learn that during the thirteen years she had lived with her husband, from whom she was never absent for a single hour, she was constantly at work upon her book, and that she diligently wrote down whatever she heard from her husband and from the many other learned people who frequented their house, as well as whatever she herself read in books…The principal work of Pamphile was the Historical Commentaries, a history of Greece comprising thirty-three books. Photius gives a general idea of the nature of its contents. The work was not arranged according to subjects or according to any settled plan, but it was more like a commonplace book, in which each piece of information was set down as it fell under the notice of the writer, who stated that she believed this variety would give greater pleasure to the reader. Photius considers the work as one of great use, and supplying important information on many points in history and literature. The estimation in which it was held in antiquity is shown not only by the judgment of Photius, but also by the references to it in the works of Aulus Gellius and Diogenes Laërtius, who appear to have availed themselves of it to a considerable extent.” -Wikipedia
Aelia Eudocia: “Aelia Eudocia Augusta /ˈiːli.ə juːˈdoʊʃə ɔːˈɡʌstə/ (Late Greek: Αιλία Ευδοκία Αυγούστα; c. 401 – 460 AD), also called Saint Eudocia, was the wife of Theodosius II, and a prominent historical figure in understanding the rise of Christianity during the beginning of the Byzantine Empire. Eudocia lived in a world where Greek paganism and Christianity were existing side by side with both pagans and unorthodox Christians being persecuted. Although Eudocia’s work has been mostly ignored by modern scholars, her poetry and literary work are great examples of how her Christian faith and Greek upbringing were intertwined, exemplifying a legacy that the Byzantine Empire left behind on the Christian world… While Eudocia could have written a lot of literature after leaving the court, only some of her work survived. Eudocia "wrote in hexameters, which is the verse of epic poetry, on Christian themes.” She wrote a poem entitled The Martyrdom of St. Cyprian in two books, of which 800 lines survived, and an inscription of a poem on the baths at Hammat Gader. Her most studied piece of literature is her Homeric cento, which has been analyzed recently by a few modern scholars, such as Mark Usher and Brian Sower. Eudocia is an understudied poet and has been neglected due to “lack of complete and authoritative text.” -Wikipedia
Anyte of Tegea: “Anyte of Tegea (Greek: Ἀνύτη Τεγεᾶτις, Anýtē Tegeâtis; fl. early 3rd century BC) was an Arcadian poet, admired by her contemporaries and later generations for her charming epigrams and epitaphs. Antipater of Thessalonica listed her as one of the nine earthly muses.According to some sources, she was the leader of a school of poetry and literature on Peloponnesus, which also included the poet Leonidas of Tarentum.At least 18 of her epigrams, written in the Doric dialect, survive in the Greek Anthology; an additional six are doubtfully attributed to her. Even so, we have more complete poems by Anyte than by any other Greek woman, since the nine books of Sappho survive only in fragments.” -Wikipedia
Boeo: “Boeo (Greek Βοιὼ) was a Delphic priestess and hymnist, who was a source for Pausanias’s notes on the history of the Delphic oracle.Pausanias states that Boeo was a native Delphian, and quotes four lines of a hymn that Boeo composed to Apollo, including a passage near its end where she states that Olen was the first prophet and priest of Apollo, and that the Delphic oracle was established by his disciples along with Hyperboreans. Pausanias notes after quoting this that subsequent to its foundation, the highest office at Delphi always was held by women priestesses. Boeo’s hymn is now lost, except for the fragments preserved by Pausanias, the name of her work is unknown, and no other biographical details are available.” -Wikipedia
Cleobulina: “Cleobulina (fl. c. 600 BC) There remains doubt about the very existence of Cleobulina, although we have three short pieces of poetry attributed to her, numerous references to her life in a variety of ancient sources, and know of two plays named after her. Scholars have long suspected that she may have been invented to personify a female riddler…Despite the problems with her history, we should not lightly dismiss her as an historical figure and poet. Details of her life, like those of most ancient authors, were quickly forgotten. What remained was a reputation for wit, learning, sound political judgment, and philosophy arising from the works attributed to her. The association of Cleobulina with Thales would date her to the early sixth century BC. While such biographical detail is not to be trusted, we do know that she was already well known in the fifth century BC. Athenaeus (10.448b) and Diogenes Laertius (1.89) agree that she came from the city of Lindus on Rhodes. An otherwise unknown author, Diotimus of Olympene, wrote a discussion of Cleobulina’s riddles, providing evidence that a corpus of work attributed to her existed in his day. Only three riddles surviving from Classical Greece are specifically attributed to her, and the attribution of these poems has been questioned…However, against the argument that she was merely a name we should note that the sources are quite specific at attributing authorship of only three extant riddles to her–and no others. She was not the only known composer of riddles.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Corinna: “Corinna or Korinna (Greek: Κόριννα) was an Ancient Greek poet, traditionally attributed to the 6th century BC. According to ancient sources such as Plutarch and Pausanias, she came from Tanagra in Boeotia, where she was a teacher and rival to the better-known Theban poet Pindar. Although two of her poems survive in epitome, most of her work is preserved in papyrus fragments…Many modern scholars have challenged the traditional assertion that Corinna was a contemporary of Pindar, and claim a much later date for her. Citing the Boeotian orthography of her surviving fragments, David Campbell, who edited a modern version of her fragments, argues that she lived about 200 BC, and that her traditional biography, replete with contradictory accounts of her character, emerged as legend at a much later date.” -Wikipedia
Demo: “Demo was the author of one short epigram which she composed at the Colossus of Memnon and had inscribed on the statue. Her name indicates that she was Greek, but hers was not a rare name in the Hellenistic world, being attested both in Egypt and elsewhere, and so she cannot be further identified. The date of her visit to the Colossus cannot be determined with any certainty, except to note that her epigram was inscribed high on the left leg after the two inscriptions which frame it and so must be dated after them. One of these is dated, and so we can determine Demo’s visit to Memnon was on 25th February AD 196, or some time later…Demo, like Julia Balbilla, adopts an Aeolic dialect for her verse and includes Homeric allusion, demonstrating that she too has had the traditional Greek education of the wealthy class. She calls herself a protege of the Muses and a lover of song, traditional self-images for lyric poets. The persona the author adopts, that of a poet, hints at a vocation, and of other work no longer extant.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Dionysia: “Dionysia (fl. AD 122) “On the statue of Memnon at Thebes there is one short epigram by Dionysia, who is otherwise unknown. The text was inscribed by the same person as two other inscriptions, one of which is dated to 5 September AD 122, giving us a good indication of the date of Dionysia’s visit to Thebes. Dionysia may well have travelled to the site in company with the authors of those other (prose) inscriptions, Julia Saturnina, Lucius Funisulanus Charisius and his wife Fulvia. Funisulanus was a Roman official in Egypt, strategos of the nomoi of Hermonthis and Latopolis. Dionysia (whose name tells us she was Greek) was mixing in respectable Roman company, if not the elevated circle of Julia Balbilla. The inscription adds to our evidence for tourism in Roman Egypt.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Erinna: “Erinna (/ɨˈrɪnə/; Greek: Ἤριννα) was a Greek poet, a contemporary and friend of Sappho, a native of Rhodes or the adjacent island of Telos or even possibly Tenos, who flourished about 600 BC (however, according to Eusebius, she was well known in 352 BC). Her best-known poem was the Distaff (Greek Ἠλᾰκάτη), written in a mixture of Aeolic and Doric Greek and consisting of 300 dactylic hexameter lines, of which only four were extant until 1928. Three epigrams ascribed to her in the Palatine anthology probably belong to a later date, though some debate on the first epigram exists.In 1928, a papyrus (PSI 1090) was found that contained 54 fragmentary lines written by her, in six pieces now located in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana. The poem is a lament (θρῆνος) on the death of her friend Baucis (Βαυκίς), a disciple of Sappho, shortly before her wedding.” - Wikipedia
Hedyle: “Hedyle (Greek: Ἥδυλη, Hḗdylē; fl. 3rd century bc) was an Athenian iambic poet, daughter of Moschine and mother of Hedylus. She wrote a poem entitled Scylla, from which a passage is cited by Athenaeus.” -Wikipedia
Melinno: “Melinno (Ancient Greek: Μελιννῶ) was a Greek lyric poet. She probably lived in the 2nd century BCE, and was probably from Epizephyrian Locris in Magna Graecia, but because little biographical material on her is available, this is uncertain. She is credited with the work commonly called Ode to Rome, which presents unique problems in the analysis of Greek poetry and is viewed as influential in the future course of Greek and Latin poetry…Melinno is known for five Sapphic stanzas comprising an Ode to Rome, praise poetry addressing the personified deity Roma. Its simultaneous praise of Rome but lack of references to the principate leads scholars to believe that it dates to the Republican Era, after the Pyrrhic War and the Roman conquest of Italy, but before the formation of the Roman Empire.Melinno’s work is important because it is a Hellenistic attempt at a revival of the moribund Sapphic stanza in Greek, keeping alive a tradition in the Greek world that that was already being translated to Latin by Horace, and would continue with Catullus. But the Sapphic metre of Horace and Catullus imitated the flowing style of Sappho and Alcaeus, in which thoughts can cross metrical boundaries to reach their completion in another line or stanza, while Melinno does not.” -Wikipedia
Moero: “Moero (Μοιρώ) or Myro (Μυρώ) was a poet of the 3rd century BCE from the city of Byzantium. She was the wife of Andromachus Philologus and the mother (according to other sources, a daughter) of Homerus of Byzantium, the tragedian. Antipater of Thessalonica includes Moero in his list of famous poetesses. She wrote epic, elegiac, and lyric poetry, but little has survived. Athenaeus quotes from her epic poem, Mnemosyne (Μνημοσύνη), and two dedicatory epigrams of hers are included in the Greek Anthology. She also wrote a hymn to Poseidon and a collection of poems called Arai (Ἀραί). The Suda mentions her under the name Myro, and the Myro mentioned by Eustathios is probably the same person.” -Wikipedia
Myrtis of Anthedon*: “Myrtis of Anthedon (6th century B.C.) was an Ancient Greek poet and is purported to be the teacher of Pindar of Thebes and Corinna of Tanagra. Scholars believe that she was the earliest in the line of lyric poets who emerged from the district of Boeotia (Anthedon was a small town in the district of Boeotia, which adjoins Attica to the north-west). Of Myrtis’ poetry, all we know is what can be surmised from Plutarch’s (himself Boeotian) paraphrase of one of her prose poems. Plutrarch cites Myrtis as the source for the story that explained why women were forbidden to set foot in a sacred grove dedicated to a local hero, Eunostos, in the Boeotian town of Tanagra.” -Wikipedia
Nossis: “Nossis (Greek: Νοσσίς) was an ancient Greek woman epigrammist and poet, c. 300 BCE, who lived in southern Italy, at Locri. Her epigrams were inspired by Sappho, whom she claims to rival.Twelve epigrams of hers (one of which is perhaps spurious) survive in the Greek Anthology.Meleager of Gadara, in his Garland, includes her among the most distinguished Greek singers. Antipater of Thessalonica ranks her among the nine poets who deserved the honor to compete with the Muses. Nossis states in her work that her mother was named Theuphila, the daughter of Cleouchas. In another epigram, she mentions that she had a daughter named Melinna, who is possibly the poet Melinno.” -Wikipedia
Praxilla: “Praxilla was a versatile lyric poet from Sicyon. A contemporary of Telesilla, she lived in the mid-fifth century BC. Antipater of Thessalonica lists her first among his canon of nine ‘immortal-tongued’ women poets (Anth.Pal.9.26.3), and Lysippus, a famous fourth century sculptor, also from Sicyon, made a bronze statue of her, evidence of the high esteem in which she was held…Eight fragments of her work have survived, but in only five of them are any of her words quoted. Nevertheless these fragments exemplify the range of her poetry. She wrote drinking songs (scolia), hymns and dithyrambs (choral odes performed at festivals of Dionysus). In addition, she was remembered for a dactylic metre she invented (or at least made famous), which was named Praxilleion after her.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Sappho: “Sappho (/ˈsæfoʊ/; Attic Greek Σαπφώ [sapːʰɔ̌ː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω, Psappho [psápːʰɔː]) was a Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. The Alexandrians included her in the list of nine lyric poets. She was born sometime between 630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, has been lost; however, her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.” -Wikipedia
Telesilla: “Telesilla was a lyric poet who lived in Argos in the fifth century BC. She became famous for saving the city when it was attacked by the Spartans in 494 BC. In the story told by Pausanias, after the massacre of the Argive fighting men by the Spartans, Telesilla rallied all those left in the city able to bear arms, including the women, and drove off the invaders. The story has been considered apocryphal, yet, although their role in the battle may have been exaggerated, there is nothing improbable in women joining in the last ditch defence of the city…Telesilla’s role in the battle, if not historical, may have been assumed later from something she wrote…Telesilla was admired in antiquity for her poetry. The Argives honored her by erecting an engraved stele on which she was depicted in front of the temple of Aphrodite. Tatian tells us a statue of Telesilla was made by Niceratus (a sculptor of the first century BC) and Antipater of Thessalonica includes her in his canon of nine women poets, calling her ‘glorious Telesilla’. Eusebius considered her as famous as the comic poet Crates and the lyric poet Bacchylides. Yet of her poetry, only one fragment of more than one word has survived…Telesilla was also remembered for the metrical innovation of her lyric poetry. Fragment 1 is an example of a Telesillean metre: a two and a half foot glyconic line which was named after her.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
*Work(s) survive only in summary or paraphrase by other authors
Caecilia Trebulla: Caecilia Trebulla composed three epigrams on her visit to the statue of Memnon, proudly placing her name above her verses. She is otherwise unknown. The first poem seems to have been inscribed on Memnon’s left leg before the visit of Julia Balbilla, whose first poem was inscribed immediately below it. This juxtaposition suggests she visited Memnon not long before Julia Balbilla in AD 130….Her command of literary Greek is typical of the well educated Roman aristocracy. She empathises with the statue, hearing its voice both as a personal greeting and as a lament for Memnon’s fate. The popular belief was that Memnon ‘sang’ to his mother, Eos (Dawn); Caecilia is reminded by Memnon of her own mother whom she includes in her prayers.” -
Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Eucheria: “Eucheria (fl. late 5th or 6th centuries AD) Eucheria is known to us from one poem which has survived in her name. The Latin vocabulary she uses suggests that the poem was composed in Aquitania in the late fifth or sixth centuries AD. The text implies that its author is a well born woman who despises a man of lower class who has sought to marry her…While Eucheria cannot be identified with any certainty, her family name is well attested among the Roman nobility in Gaul: a Eucherius of senatorial rank was bishop of Lyons in the early to mid-fifth century AD…Satire is regarded as a genre little used by women writers, though Sulpicia and Eucheria provide notable exceptions.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Faltonia Betitia Proba: “Faltonia Betitia Proba (c. 306/c. 315 - c. 353/c. 366) was a Latin Roman Christian poet, possibly the most influential Latin poet of Late Antiquity. A member of one of the most influential aristocratic families, she composed the Cento vergilianus de laudibus Christi, a cento composed with verses by Virgil re-ordered to form an epic poem centred on the life of Jesus. Proba belonged to an influential family of the 4th century, the Petronii Probi. Her father was Petronius Probianus, Roman consul in 322, while her mother was probably called Demetria. She had a brother, Petronius Probinus, appointed consul in 341; also her grandfather, Pompeius Probus, had been a consul, in 310. Proba married Clodius Celsinus Adelphus, praefectus urbi of Rome in 351, thus creating a bond with the powerful gens Anicia. They had at least two sons, Quintus Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius and Faltonius Probus Alypius, who became high imperial officers. She also had a granddaughter Anicia Faltonia Proba, daughter of Olybrius and Tirrania Anicia Juliana.”-Wikipedia
Julia Balbilla: Julia Balbilla (Greek: ἡ Ἰουλία Βαλβίλλα, 72 CE – after 130 CE) was a Roman noble woman and poet. Whilst in Thebes, touring Egypt as part of the imperial court of Hadrian, she inscribed four epigrams which have survived.…Balbilla was a court poetess and friend of Hadrian and companion or lady in waiting to his wife, Vibia Sabina. In 129 CE, she accompanied them to the Valley of the Kings in Ancient Egypt. Balbilla was commissioned to record the party’s return visit from 19 to 21 November 130 CE. Balbilla inscribed four epigrams in Aeolic Greek, known as ‘epigrammata’, on the legs of the Colossi of Memnon.  The statue reminded Balbilla of the sculptures on Mount Nemrut and the mausoleum of her ancestor, Antiochus I Theos of Commagene.” -Wikipedia
Sulpicia I: The earlier Sulpicia…is said to have lived in the reign of Augustus and have been probably the daughter of Servius Sulpicius Rufus and a niece of Messalla Corvinus, an important patron of literature. Her verses were preserved with those of Tibullus in the third book of elegies, the Appendix tibulliana, and were for a long time attributed to him. They consist of six elegiac poems (3.13-18) addressed to a lover called Cerinthus. Cerinthus was most likely a pseudonym, in the style of the day (e. g. Catullus’ Lesbia, Ovid’s Corinna). Cerinthus has sometimes been thought to refer to the Cornutus addressed by Tibullus in two of his Elegies, probably an aristocratic Caecilius Cornutus. Recent criticism has tended away from attempting to identify Cerinthus with an historical figure in favour of noting the literary implications of the pseudonym… Hallett argues for increasing the numbers of poems attributed to Sulpicia to include poems 8-12 from the Corpus Tibullianum, which had previously been attributed to the amicus Sulpiciae (friend of Sulpicia).” -Wikipedia
Sulpicia II: The later Sulpicia lived during the reign of Domitian and was apparently married to a man named Calenus. She is praised by Martial (x.35, 38), who compares her to Sappho, as a model of wifely devotion and as the writer of poems that teach “girls to please one husband and husbands to please one wife.” Two lines of iambic trimeters attributed to Sulpicia survive in the scholia to Juvenal…The fragment seems to confirm the characterization in Martial: sexually explicit poetry about marital love.” -Wikipedia
Cornelia Africana: “Cornelia Scipionis Africana (190 – 100 BC) was the second daughter of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the hero of the Second Punic War, and Aemilia Paulla…The manuscripts of Cornelius Nepos, the earliest Latin biographer (ca. 110-24 BC), include several excerpts from a letter supposedly composed by Cornelia to Gaius (her younger son). While not all scholars accept these as authentic, if they indeed are, they would make Cornelia one of only four Roman women whose writings survive to the present day. The letter may be dated to just before Gaius’ tribunate in 122 BC. (Gaius would be killed the following year in 121 BC, over a decade after the death of his brother Tiberius in 133 BC.) Cornelia’s letter documents how Roman women wielded considerable influence in political families.” -Wikipedia
Egeria: “Egeria’s Journal is a diary of her pilgrimage to the Holy Land followed by an account of the liturgical year and liturgy in Jerusalem. The evidence suggests that Egeria was a wealthy member of a religious community in Galicia in western Spain, perhaps even an abbess, who composed the account of her pilgrimage for her fellow Religious–readers she addresses as ‘Your Charity’, ‘revered ladies…my sisters’. The text was not intended for general publication, which may explain its rough and repetitive style. Egeria’s text is of great historical significance. Her description of the liturgy and religious observances in fifth-century Jerusalem is valuable. She also adds to our knowledge of biblical sites and religious buildings in her day. The testament of her faith, the religious objectives of her journeys, her faith in the physical reality of the Old and New Testament stories, provide insight into the beliefs and objectives of the Christian pilgrim.” -Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Perpetua: “An autobiographical prose work is attributed to Perpetua, a Christian martyr, put to death in Carthage during a persecution under Septimius Severus in AD 202-03. The account of her martyrdom includes a section in the first person, which purports to be Perpetua’s own account of her trial and time in prison before her execution. If her authorship is accepted, this text gains particular significance as the earliest extant Christian literature written by a woman. Perpetua’s text was popular in the Christian community, and this in part accounts for its survival.” -
Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
Fabulla: “Fabulla (before AD 210) Galen cites two passages from Fabulla (13.250) repeating the same two passages soon after (13.341). He describes her as a Libyan (i.e. African), though her name marks her out as Roman. She uses a Roman weight system to measure her ingredients and this suggests that her text may have been written originally in Latin, and translated into Greek by Galen (or an unknown intermediary source). She was probably a medica, a female doctor.” -
Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, by I.M. Plant
[A/N: This is not an exhaustive list, especially with regards to medical writers; I may add to it when I have access to more of my books.]
began making its mark on Saturday morning as Bruce Holsinger sat at a
Starbucks, waiting for his son to finish his soccer tournament. The English
professor was speaking with some colleagues over Twitter about housewives assisting
their husband scholars.
says, something clicked. He went to Google Books and started looking at acknowledgement pages,
where he’d often seen husbands thanking unnamed wives for typing up manuscripts. He took screenshots, posted them to Twitter and added some snark. It
wasn’t long before #ThanksForTyping took off, and with it a conversation about uncredited female labor in academia.