This week’s virago is the mysterious but powerful, Semiramis.
“They say she created gardens in the desert, blasted mountains out of her way, carved her face into hillsides, went to war with her hair half done, commanded armies, and conquered everywhere she went. They also say she possessed supernatural beauty, drove men to madness to steal their power, beheaded her lovers, committed incest with her son! How did this sovereign empress become The Whore of Babylon? Who was this Semiramis...I have wondered about her for ages…”
Jackie Murray is Associate Professor of Classics in the Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department at the University of Kentucky. She received her
Ph.D. Classics from the University of Washington, her M.A. in Classics from the University of Western Ontario, and her B.A. (Summa cum Laude) in Latin and Classical Studies from University of Guelph. Her primary research area is Hellenistic Poetry, its reception of Archaic Greek poetry and its influence on Latin and Imperial Greek Literature. Her secondary area is Race and the Classics, especially the reception of Classics in African American and Afro-Caribbean literature. She is on the editorial board of Classical Philology, Religion Compass, and Brill’s Research Perspectives in Classical Poetry. She has published several important articles on various aspects of Hellenistic Poetry and Race and the Classics, most recently “Quarrelling with Callimachus: A Response to Annette Harder’s Aspects of the Interaction between Apollonius Rhodius and Callimachus” and “Race and Sexuality: Racecraft in the Odyssey” in Denise McCoskey, ed., Bloomsbury Cultural History of Race Series. She is currently finishing up a monograph on Νεῖκος: Apollonius’ Argonautica and the Poetics of Controversy under contract with Harvard University Press.
This week’s virago is one of the greatest Muslim fighters the world has ever known, Khawla bint al-Azwar. خولة بنت الازور
Khawla bint al-Azwar (Arabic: خولة بنت الازور) was many things. A poet, a nurse, a leader, a warrior, a sister. When her brother is taken captive by Roman soldiers, she makes the choice that only the bravest can imagine.
Lindsey A. Mazurek is an assistant professor of Roman archaeology at Indiana University-Bloomington. She specializes in the study of Roman imperialism and religion, particularly the cults of the Egyptian gods, in the eastern Mediterranean. She is the author of Isis in a Global Empire: Greek Identity Through Egyptian Religion in Roman Greece, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. This work explores the reconfiguration of Greek ethnicity in the Roman Empire through a careful study of how Greek devotees fashioned their own versions of Isis in text and image. She also co-directs the Mediterranean Connectivity Initiative, which explores migration and connectivity at multiple scales through digital tools. Outside of her work, she enjoys spending time with her dogs, watching wildlife out her window, and finding new mystery novelists to enjoy.
Things We Referenced:
Guliyam and The Forty Maidens were a band of teenage fighters, sworn to protect their kingdom. They meet another band of rebels who fall in love with them but these girls don’t have time for that- they’ve got a war to win.
Solange Ashby received her Ph.D. in Egyptology with a specialization in ancient Egyptian language and Nubian religion from the University of Chicago. She has conducted research in Egypt at the temple of Philae and participated in an archaeological excavation in El-Kurru, Sudan (royal Kushite cemetery). Her first book, Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence at Philae, is published by Gorgias Press. Her current research explores the roles of women in traditional Nubian religious practices. Dr. Ashby is working on the first monograph dedicated to the history, religious symbolism, and political power of the queens of Kush.
Dr. Ashby teaches at the Department of Classics and Ancient Studies at Barnard College.
Things We Referenced:
This week’s special bonus episode is an investigation of language. How do we spell the word “woman”? A simple question that has led to a long history of letters, re-definitions, hostility, love, and even more questions. We want to hear your voice so please feel free to email us and let us know your thoughts!
Things I Referenced:
Speaking of nontraditional femininities, this week’s virago is a leader who reversed all gender roles and ruled with an iron fist. Furra was the queen of the women and the enslaver of men. She valued the lives of women over men so much that she took away men’s rights and to this day, when people pass her grave, the men beat the ground in anger while the women pour milk and sing her praises.
Zenzelé N.F. Cooper is a revolutionary. She shape-shifts to move culture forward ever in service of human transformation. Zenzelé affirms that African women’s liberation is the prerequisite to all other liberations.
a Mother of Two,
Practitioner of the Michael Chekhov Technique,
and a Voice-Over Artist.
Zenzelé is currently the Program Manager at Weeksville Heritage Center, an historic house museum, site and cultural center in Central Brooklyn that uses historic preservation, education, arts and a social justice lens to preserve, document, and inspire engagement with the history of Weeksville, one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America. (www.weeksvillesociety.org)