A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Anna Comnena

(Byzantine princess and the first known female historian)

She was born in December 1, 1083, She was the eldest daughter of Alexius I., Emperor of Byzantium, and until her brother was born, she was father's favorite child.  When she was a child, she was carefully trained in the study of poetry, science, and Greek philosophy....and, she expected that, at her father's death, she would take his place at the head of an empire which stretched from Italy to Armenia...and, she was willing to go to any lengths to gratify her need for power. 

In 1097, Anna married an accomplished young nobleman and united with the empress Irene in a vain attempt to prevail upon her father during his last illness to disinherit his son and give the crown to her husband.  The attempt failed when the plot was discovered; Anna was forced to relinquish her property and fortune and to retire from court life; she was lucky to have escaped with her life.

 Anna's husband died in 1137, and she and her mother were sent to a convent which Irene had founded.  It was there that Anna, then 55, began to write a history of her father's life.  The history, The Alexiad, consisted of 15 volumes.  The book was finished in 1148 and describes the career of her father until his death in 1118.  Anna's book has been considered one of the most remarkable feats of medieval history.  

Little is known of her life after she completed her masterpiece, and it is believed that she died somewhere around 1153.  Anna had lived in an age when women were expected to remain secluded...attending only to matters pertaining to the family...but Anna never settled for that.  She always wanted so much more...and even though she never did inherit her father's empire, her legend lives on forever.

The following, lamenting her widowhood, is found in the prologue of the book.

Her soul is dizzy. "And with rivers
of tears," she tells us "I wet 
my eyes...Alas for the waves" in her life,
"alas for the revolts."  Pain burns her
"to the bones and the marrow and the cleaving of the soul."

But, it seems the truth is, that this ambitious woman
knew only one great sorrow;
she had only one deep longing
(though she does not admit it) this haughty Greek woman.
that she was never able, despite all her dexterity,
to acquire the kingship; but it was taken
almost out of her hands by the insolent John.
                  --C.P. Cavafy 


  1. Wow, strong lady.
    Mary, thanks for the encouragement. I am not upset by what is happening for Ry but rather happy because it is coming out of him and I know that means he is processing it. He is such a strong little woogie and he can do this, but as an Oma I want to remove the pain.....but I know that also is part of the process. Thanks my friend.

  2. Aw Mary, I've finally taken a little time to come back here...oh what I've missed! I'll go back now and read more.
    Anna's life and writings sound like something I would love to read someday.

    Thanks again for this blog...