Women's history? Let's take a long view -- back to wise Athena and the unfortunate spider woman
By Heather Wardle
Fran Titchener, left, chats with Women's Studies Program director Brenda Cooper at Titchener's presentation on Greek goddesses. / Photo by Heather Wardle
Enough about the Greek gods. Last week, goddesses got equal time.
"You've all heard about Zeus," said Fran Titchener, USU classics history professor, "but what of the many other women not often spoke of?"
As part of USU's observation of Women's History Month, Titchener highlighted the Greek mythological women, not usually included in the celebration and observances.
In her speech, Titchener highlighted ancient women with short stories on their tempraments, their sacrifices, and their great creativity and wisdom.
Take for example Athena, the goddess of wisdom, who prided herself on her great weaving abilities (which were a prestigious skill at the time). Another girl, also skilled in her ability to weave, came boasting along, and challenged Athena to a match. While in any story we know a goddess will always win over small village girl, Athena won the match. However, Athena with her bitter temper took Arachne, the village girl, and without thought, turned her into a spider.
Those spiders, now also known as arachnids, come from this very myth.
And what of the great Cleopatra, who set her sights high, wishing to restore the kingdom of Egypt and aquire all the territory it possessed? While not pretty, she was smart and intelligent, and according to Titchener, loved to tease her lover Marc Antony right up until he was almost mad.
We cannot forget this woman, who dared to do the unheard of as she followed Marc Antony everywhere, drinking and partying, and even, window peeping at, as she was said to have done, "everything Marc Antony did."
Don't forget about the monsters as well. There's Medusa, given away by her snake hair. As the story goes, don't look at her or you will surely turn to stone. Yet ironically she is, as Titchener pointed out, quite beautiful in her statues and pictures. According to Titchener, Medusa wasn't really this pretty, but rather, "the Greeks idealized people and they wanted to make beautiful art."
That's why all the statues of Greek guys look so unbelievably buff.
Titchener also explained the importance of dark charcoal eyeliners, elaborate clothing and lead-based foundation (ouch), which were all symbols of wealthy women.
When asked what she found most common in ancient women and women of today, she noted that it was their great ability to see a problem and fix it, or to want to do something and then do it.
While women today may be just as tempramental, they are also just as
independent, stron, and sacrificing as their sisters of the past, Titchener