Saturday, November 12, 2022

Telesilla of Argos

Telesilla, (flourished 5th century BC, Argos), was an famous ancient female Greek poet. She wrote lyric poetry dedicated to Apollo and Artemis, of which only brief fragments remain.

She was listed by Antipater of Thesalonike (c. 15 BC) as one of the great Nine Female Lyric Poets of Greece (along with Praxilla, Moiro, Anyte, Sappho, Erinna, Corinna, Nossis, and Myrtis).

She was involved in the education of girls for choral performance. While she was famous during her life for her poetry, she was equally respected by later writers for driving the Spartan forces from her home city of Argos in 494/493 BC.

Argos was probably the base of Dorian operations in the Peloponnese (c. 1100-1000 BC), and from that time onward it was the dominant city-state of Argolis. During the Battle of Sepeia, the Spartan king Cleomenes made short work of the Argive forces and marched on Argos itself, where Telesilla reportedly stirred up her countrywomen to defend the walls.

According to Pausanias, Cleomenes had three options; 1- to attack the city and be defeated by women, which would be the greatest disgrace, 2- to attack and defeat the women, which would be a dishonourable victory or 3- to leave and save his honour. Frustrated, Cleomenes chose the third option and withdrew his forces and left the city untouched.
Telesilla of Argos

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