Women in Mythology
God said to Adam …
Genesis 2:15
“Of every tree of the garden you are free
to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge
of good and bad, you must not eat of it;
for as soon as you eat of it, you shall
Eden: Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel
Raphael: The Fall Adam & Eve
The Punishment
Genesis 3:16:
“And to the woman [God] said, ‘I will
make most severe your pains in
childbearing; in pain shall you bear
children. Yet your urge shall be for your
husband, and he shall rule over you.’ ”
Female demons who force men to have
intercourse with them
First wife of Adam (Judaism)
Refused to have sex in missionary position;
wanted equality
Goddess of the dark moon
Mother of succubi
Demon of the night
Kidnaps/eats/kills babies; seduces (sleeping)
men to propagate demon children
The Lilin
Demon children of Lilith and Samael
Lady Lilith
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Adopted by feminists and
religious/spiritual groups as a symbol of
female empowerment and equality
• The first woman
• Created by the gods (Hephaestus in particular) and
bestowed with unique gifts from each (including
• Given to Epimetheus as a wife
• Opens the jar/box that contains all the evils of the
world (disease, death, sorrow)
• When she slams to jar/box shut, hopelessness
remains trapped inside
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
John W. Waterhouse
John W. Waterhouse
This painting by Waterhouse isn’t actually a Pandora painting; it’s
Psyche Opening the Golden Box; but it is so beautiful
Unknown Artist
Unknown Artist
(this is from a Russian postcard … I don't know whether
Maul is the artist or the postcard publisher)
sculpted by Chauncey Ives (1864)
sculpted by Chauncey Ives (1858)
Goddess of Spring/
Queen of the Underworld/
Wife of Hades
• Origin story to explain the seasons
• Her mother, Demeter, is the goddess of the harvest
• Persephone was abducted by Hades and eventually
rescued by Hermes
• Because she consumed food (pomegranate seeds) in
the Underworld, she was forced to return for
several months each year (winter)
The Rape of Proserpina
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Persephone's Return, by
Frederick Lord Leighton
The Siren and the Fisherman, by
Frederic Lord Leighton
The Siren
John William
Harpies in the wood of the suicides
Gustave Doré
• Norse mythology
• Demigoddesses of death
• Decide who will die in battle
The Ride of the Valkyries
William T. Maud
The Fates
A Golden Thread
by John Strudwick
Moirae (Greek mythology)
• Clotho: spun the thread of life
• Lachesis: measured the thread of life
• Atropos: cut the thread of life & chose
the manner of a person's death
Parcae (Roman mythology)
• Nona: spun the thread of life
• Decima: measured the thread of life
• Morta: cut the thread of life & chose
the manner of a person's death
• Stheno (Might)
• Euryale (Wide Flowing Sea)
• Medusa (Queen/Ruler)
Perseus slaying the Gorgon,
Medusa by Cellini
personified the white foam of the sea
shared one eye, one ear and one tooth
grey-haired from birth
guardians of the Gorgons
– Enyo (horror)
– Deino (dread)
– Pemphredo (alarm)
The Graeae by L.W. Messacar
The Furies
The Muses
Goddesses of Art & Science
Apollo and the Muses on Mount
Helicon by Claude Lorrain
The Graces
The Three
Graces by
Female Trinity/Triple Goddess