Crates comicus et Telesilla cognoscebantur.
Crates the comedy-writer and Telesilla flourished.
The Spartiates were roused by the poems of Tyrtaeus, the Argives by the songs of Telesilla, and the Lesbians by the poetry of Alcaeus.
Antipater of Thessalonike on the Nine Woman Lyric Poets:
These are the divinely tongued women who were reared
on the hymns of Helicon and the Pierian Rock of Macedon:
Praxilla, Moiro, Anyte the female Homer,
Sappho the ornament of the fair-tressed Lesbian women,
Erinna, renowned Telesilla, and you, Corinna,
who sang of Athena's martial shield,
Nossis the maiden-throated, and Myrtis the sweet-voiced,
All of them fashioners of the everlasting page.
Nine Muses Great Ouranos bore, Nine likewise Gaia,
to be a joy undying for mortals.
Of all the deeds performed by women for the community none is more famous than the struggle against Cleomenes for Argos (494 B.C.), which the women carried out at the instigation of Telesilla the poet. She, as they say, was the daughter of a famous house, but sickly in body, and so she sent to the god to ask about health; and when an oracle was given her to cultivate the Muses, she followed the god's advice, and by devoting herself to poetry and music she was quickly relieved of her trouble, and was greatly admired by the women for her poetic art.
But when Cleomenes (I), king of the Spartans, having slain many Argives (but not by any means seven thousand seven hundred and seventy seven [cf. Herodotus, VII.148] as some fabulous narrative have it), proceeded against the city, an impulsive daring, divinely inspired, came to the younger women to try, for their country's sake, to hold off the enemy. Under the lead of Telesilla, they took up arms, and, taking their stand by the battlements, manned the walls all round, so that the enemy were amazed. The result was that they repulsed Cleomenes with great loss, and the other king, Demaratus, who managed to get inside, as Socrates [FHG IV, p. 497] says, and gained possession of the Pamphyliacum, they drove out. In this way the city was saved. The women who fell in the battle they buried close by the Argive Road, and to the survivors they granted the privilege of erecting a statue of Ares as a memorial of their surpassing valor. Some say that the battle took place on the seventh day of the month which is now known as the Fourth Month [tetartou], but anciently was called Hermaeus among the Argives; others say that it was on the first day of that month, on the anniversary of which they celebrate even to this day the 'Festival of Impudence', at which they clothe the women in men's shirts and cloaks, and the men in women's robes and veils.
To repair the scarcity of men they did not unite the women with slaves, as Herodotus (VI. 77-83) records, but with the best of their neighboring subjects, whom they made Argive citizens. It was reputed that the women showed disrespect and an intentional indifference to those husbands in their married relations from a feeling that they were underlings. Wherefore the Argives enacted a law, the one which says that married women having a beard must occupy the same bed with their husbands.
Above the Theater there is a temple of Aphrodite, and in front of the seated statue of the goddess is a stele engraved with an image of Telesilla the writer of poems. These lie as though thrown down beside her feet, and she herself is looking at a helmet which she holds in her hand and is about to put on her head. Telesilla was famous among women for her poetry, but still more famous for the following achievement.
Her fellow citizens had sustained an indescribable disaster at the hands of the Spartans under Cleomenes son of Anaxandridas. Some hd fallen in actual battle and of the others, who took sanctuary in the grove of Argus, some had at first ventured out under a truce, only to be burnt to death when Cleomenes set fire to the grove. By these means Cleomenes, proceeding to Argos, led his Lacedaemonians against a city of women.
But Telesilla took all the slaves and all such male citizens who through youth or age had been unable to bear arms, and made them man the walls, and gathering together all the weapons of war that had been left in the houses or were hanging in the temples, armed the younger women and marshalled them at a place she knew the enemy must pass. There, undismayed by the war cry, the women stood their ground and fought with the greatest determination, until the Spartans, reflecting that the slaughter of an army of women would be an equivocal victory and defeat at their hands would be dishonor as well as disaster, laid down their arms. Now this battle had been foretold by the Pythian Priestess, and Herodotus [VI. 77], whether he understood it or not, quotes the oracle as follows:
When male by female is put to flightSuch is the part of the oracle which refers to the women.
And Argos' name with honor is bright
Many an Argive wife will show
Both cheeks marred with scars of woe.
A notable example of the Ionic is the two-and-a-half-foot line used by Telesilla: [F 1]
Here Artemis, O maidens,
fleeing from Alpheus . . .
The song to Apollo is called the [F 2]
Phileliadas Telesilla puts it.
Here are three temples of Apollo, each with an image. One of these has no particular title, the second they call Apollo Pythaeus, and the third Apollo Orion ['of the boundaries']. The former title they have learned from the Argives, whose country, according to Telesilla [F 3], was the first district of the Hellenes in which Pythaeus, who was a favorite [paidika] of Apollo, arrived.
At the top of Mount Coryphaia there is a temple of Artemis, which is mentioned in a poem of Telesilla [F 4]
The only one saved was Amphion and the only daughter Chloris, the eldest, who had become the wife of Neleus, though according to Telesilla [F 5] the survivors were Amyklas and Meliboia, and Amphion died along with the rest.
[F 6] beltiotas
the better sortused for beltious by Telesilla.
Telesilla of Argos also calls the threshing floor [halo] [F 7]
and in Pherekrates oulokephalos, 'curly-head'; Telesilla said [F 8]
And in form Athena was like a womanBy this means he conveys to us the comeliness and modesty of her demeanor, just as Xenophon portrays Manly Refinement [kalokagathia], and Telesilla [F 9] of Argos virtue [arete].
tall and beautiful . . .
John Paul Adams, CSUN