Doomed for being a woman

Many of you who have been following my blog will know of my first book Accursed Women, is about the plight of women in the ancient world. Even though the characters in the stories are fictional and based on mythical beings, the issues they faced and the lives they led were a reflection of the times. The stories were told by men who had a sexist view and lamented on the sexuality of women. Hesiod did not think highly of women as expressed in his Theogony and Works and Days.

The “Pseudo-Seneca,” a bronze portrait head identified for a very long time as the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger, but now believed to most likely be a fictional representation of Hesiod By Marie-Lan Nguyen (2011), CC BY 2.5,

In Theogony, Zeus created a woman—Pandora—who ‘apparently’ conspired and created trouble for men.

[590] “For from her is the race of women and female kind: of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble…”

Hesiod also stated men should marry at 30, an ideal age, and should marry a virgin so that the husband can train her.

[600] ‘…as for the man who chooses the lot of marriage and takes a good wife suited to his mind, evil continually contends with good.” Works and Days

Unfortunately, in some societies today, that mentality has not changed and to this day women still do not receive equal pay or are not always considered for leadership or management positions. So why did I choose Hypatia as my main character for my next book? Her story is not unfamiliar even today and being a notable and educated woman, rare for the time period, she was targeted for her sexuality and for ‘influencing impressionable young men’.

Miss Julia Neilson as “Hypatia,” c. 1890. The British Museum, Prints and Drawings. Source:

A little bit of background on Hypatia. She was born in Alexandria circa 370 CE and died 415 CE. She was a popular teacher, taught philosophy and mathematics, and had learned interest in astronomy. She had developed the astrolabe and planesphere—tools for astronomy. From the research I’ve done, she was a highly regarded educator and described as beautiful. She never married, and was a passionate student/teacher and follower of Neo-Platonism. It was this belief and way of life that led to her death.

Alexandria, named after Alexander the Great in 331 BCE (he named it after himself; no ego there!), the initial construction was by one of his generals, Cleomenes, but it was Ptolemy I who ruled Egypt following Alexander’s death and the city became the major centre. It was Ptolemy who commissioned the building of the famous Library of Alexander, the museum and the Temple of Serapis. The City of Alexandria attracted many scholars from the Greek world and beyond, and rivalled the Athens the sweetheart of Ancient Greece.

Source: Alexandria. Wikimedia

This is where Hypatia grew up, taught by her father, Theon professor of Mathematics. Her mother doesn’t feature in the research and from the various sources, I surmise that she may have died while Hypatia was a baby or in her early childhood. Her upbringing was unique for the times, which will be further explored in the next post.

Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.

Historical fiction novelist and a secondary teacher, Luciana Cavallaro, burnt out but not done… yet.

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Hesiod. Theogony + Works and Days. Penguin Books, United Kingdom.
Mark, J.J. (2009). Hypatia of Alexandria. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from


Add Yours
  1. Linnea Tanner

    It’s so wonderful that you’ve found an example of an ancient woman who was so influential in the Greek and Roman times. Unfortunately, historians have been so male-centered that the influence of women were downplayed. There are many instances of warrior queens whose stories have been lost through the ages. Female writers and artists took pen names to get their works displayed. Hope you have a wonderful Valentines!

    Liked by 2 people

    • cav12

      Hypatia was an extraordinary woman as was many historical female figures. As history has demonstrated, a woman to takes up arms, or shows intelligence, rails against the norm, were shamed, killed for being heretics, labelled as witches, the list goes on. At least we can tell their stories, like you have with your amazing series Curse of Clansmen and Kings.


  2. G. J. Jolly

    Women, even in parts of the world where civilization is advanced, struggle with the backward way of thinking a woman isn’t as good as a man. I doubt the attitude will go away soon. I, often, question what brings on this attitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rosarymcquestion

    Just think, throughout history there have been many powerful women who have led nations or guided armies into war, and were not only fearsome fighters, but also cunning strategists and inspirational leaders. Yet, a good example of how women were kept in their proper place is that it took until the twentieth century for women to even get the right to vote!


    Liked by 2 people

    • cav12

      That is so true, Rose and yet we are still struggling to be heard. I don’t what it will take to shift the mindset of those who are threatened.


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