Throughout history, women were usually given the short end of the stick. Their freedom was heavily limited compared to their male counterparts and they weren’t allowed to do most of the things men did. Some even had to pass themselves off as men in order to practice any all-male professions. Even when it was proven that women could do great things, they were hardly given the credit they deserved. So here are a couple of amazing women of the ancient world you need to know about.
1. Telesilla, The Warrior Poet
Telesilla of Argos was a Greek woman who was as intelligent as she was brave. As a poet, she wrote amazing and highly-praised works of literature, though only a few lines managed to survive. The only remaining story about Telesilla is that she once led a group of armed women to defend her city from the Spartans while she ordered the young boys, old men and slaves to man the walls. The Spartans eventually fled as they felt there would be no glory in defeating women and it would’ve been extremely shameful if the women did defeat them.
2. Tapputi, The World’s First Chemist
Many of the techniques used in chemistry are a lot older than many of us realize. In fact, the first chemist was a Mesopotamian woman named Taputti. Three thousand years ago, she was a perfumer and overseer of a royal palace where she created perfumes by using a still (a type of scientific equipment), distilling essences from various plants. Although she was the first chemist, Taputti was probably not the only one as she may have had a female chemist assistant working under her.
3. Agnodice, The Doctor
Fed up of women giving birth without medical assistance due to not wanting to be seen by male doctors, Agnodice, an Athenian woman, disguised herself as a man and traveled to Alexandria to learn the medical arts. She returned to Athens, and after revealing her secret to female patients, started taking most jobs from the male doctors. After being taken to court under the accusation of seducing her patients, Agnodice proved them wrong by taking off her clothes. The old charges were dropped and the court tried charging her for being a female doctor. Instead, her patients stormed the courts and demanded that she be left off. And she was!
4. Enheduanna: Poet, Priestess and Politician of Ancient Mesopotamia
One of the earliest authors in the world was Enheduanna – a poet, princess and priestess from Mesopotamia around 2300 BC. She was the daughter of the conqueror Sargon of Akkad who, after seizing the city of UR, gave Enheduana the title of chief priestess. During this time, she wrote several poems as hymns to Mesopotamian gods like Inanna. Shortly after her father’s death, Enheduanna was briefly betrayed and driven out of her temple, though she later regained her position and continued ruling until her death.
5. Hydna, The Diver
Hydna was the daughter of a famous swimming teacher called Scyllis of Scione who passed his abilities onto his daughter. When the Persians approached Greece with the intention of invading, the father and daughter were called upon to weaken the army by swimming ten miles out to sea where they cut the ships’ loose from their moorings and removed their anchors. The Persians suffered a huge loss, while Hydna and her father were honored for their bravery with statues in Olympia.
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