Женская поэзия

Телесилла (Τελέσιλλα)

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Telesilla of Argos

fl. c. 494 B.C.

According to Herodotus, in the late sixth century B.C. the Argives were named the best of the Greeks in the art of music. Following in this artistic tradition, Telesilla lived in Argos in the following century, where she was renowned for her bravery as well as her poetry.

Only one fragment remains of Telesilla's writing, as well as three single word quotes and various references, so it is impossible to judge the quality of her work. She appears to have written on mythological themes and, perhaps, martial poetry. A stele representing Telesilla, the composer of songs, was put in front of a seated statue of Aphrodite near the theater in Argos. Pausanias describes the scene on the stele in which Telesilla's songs are at her feet while she lifts her helmet to her head.

When the Spartan Cleomenes defeated the Argive army, Telesilla is said to have armed the Argive women. The story goes that when the Spartans saw their enemy, they retreated out of fear that should they lose, it would be humiliating to have been defeated by women. This story has met with skepticism. Some think Telesilla roused the forces with her poetry.

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