The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Women's History Month "T": Themis and The Wayside


Themis from the Temple of Nemesis, Rhamnous, Attica, signed by the sculptor Chairestratos, c. 300 BCE

The personification of divine or natural law, Themis was worshipped in ancient Athens as representing order and justice. The law that she symbolised and protected related to the natural law of family and communities, morality, piety, the rules of hospitality, and conduct of assembly.  Themis was seen to be wise and have foresight. She was the first deity of prophecy and in charge of the Delphic oracle until she handed it over to Apollo.

Her status was such that she sat beside Zeus to offer advice and was also a consort of his, producing a son. One of her roles was to judge whether the dead go to the Elysian Fields or to Tartarus (an abyss in the underworld).

She is sometimes depicted as blindfolded, though this is a modern attachment, likely to have arisen from confusion with the Roman Goddess of Justice.  Themis had a special shrine on Mount Parnassus, and was worshipped in many towns where there would have been shrines.


I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.
~Harriet Tubman, Activist and Former Slave

Don't be afraid of missing opportunities. Behind every failure is an opportunity somebody wishes they had missed.
~Lily Tomlin, Actress and Comedian

I make the most of all that comes, and the least of all that goes.
~Sara Teasdale, American Poet

If you can't change your fate, change your attitude.
~Amy Tan, Writer

Physical strength in a woman--that's what I am.
~Tina Turner, Singer


The Wayside is an historic house in Massachusetts which, like all houses, has seen many families pass through its doors. I doubt, however, that many houses could claim to have hosted three different authors and provided the inspiration for many locations, including the classic Little Women.

The Alcott family purchased The Wayside after the failure of Fruitlands (a commune based on transcendentalist principals).  They made some changes to the house, including adding a bedroom for the young Louisa May Alcott.  The house was then known as The Hillside, and the Alcotts stayed there for three years from 1845 to 1848.  During their time there, the Alcott children were putting on amateur plays (including Rodrigo) which would form part of the March family history in Little Women.  The house was also offered as a site for the Underground Railway, helping at least one fugitive escape.

Nathanial Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables) purchased the house from the Alcotts in 1852, and set about redesigning it, including changing the name from The Hillside to The Wayside.  The Hawthornes remained owners of the house despite moving to England for a period.  In 1870, the house was sold to Daniel and Harriet Loptrop.

Harriet Loptrop wrote under the pen name Margaret Sidney and published books, including Five Little Peppers.  Five Little Peppers is a series of books about five children born into poverty who have a benefactor in a wealthy gentleman.  Margaret Sidney also wrote other children’s books and on her death, the house passed into her daughter’s care. The Wayside is now part of the Minutemen National Historical Park and is open for tours.

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