Sunday, October 1, 2023

Xerxes - The Roles of Women


Mandana - Medean Princess,
 Mother of Cyrus the Great

The Roles of Women

When a girl was born the father rejoiced and the mother lamented. In the wealthy family a girl meant a future bartered union. An opportunity to merge fortunes among merchants. Landowners. Royals. For that very reason a mother mourned quietly and sufficiently and most of all immediately.

The father rejoiced in the potential unions planning a future for each female delicately and decidedly. As the girl grew into a young woman and the measure of her beauty was known the better measure the father had for future contracts.

As for the young girl. Her early life was pleasant and gentle. Even in the lower households of minor landowners the young girls were treated to pretty gowns. Delicious foods. And the ever doting attention of all of the older females. The mother and sisters of her mother were fastidious caretakers and wayshowers. Training the young ones in the care of the household. The importance in the preparation of foods. Learning how to weave wreaths and garlands for festive events. These older women followed the paths of those before them. For their time in her place may be long gone but each one reveled in caring for and training the little ones.

When a young girl presented on the eve of womanhood. She was taken into seclusion for a short time. Here she was given the wardrobe of a woman. She was told of her upcoming betrothal that had been planned since the day of her birth. She was given moments to lament the end of her childhood and sturdy herself for her very different future. She was loved. She was sheltered. She was prepared.

For most young women, the first glimpse of a new husband was on the day of the union. It was rare that a woman would meet her betrothed before that. Childhood playmates were rarely given in union. It was the expansion of fortunes outside of the home and town that a father desired for his daughters and his coffers.

In full womanhood and the union with a man it was expected that children would flow within the season. When this did not occur a man could take another wife within the next season. The birth of sons and daughters was expected to continue the great Persian lines.

Persian women were fertile. Healthy. Well tended. The many children born gave her status and purpose. It was extremely rare that a woman did not produce an heir. In the event of years passing without a first born a woman was relegated to leisure and to business. Given purpose. Trained in the way of merchants. Always respected as a wife. Yet no longer expected to produce an heir. In that rare instance of anger and jealousy, a barren woman was sent away to the seclusion yet comfort of a farmstead far away.

On occasion a woman was permitted to join in the ranks of soldiers. There were some who were built for this endeavor and this was not ignored. It was not a preferred role for a woman yet it was tolerated and supported.

When a young woman was widowed in youth she was taken into another familiar family. When an older woman was widowed she was invited into the homes of her daughters. There she spent time in the preparation of foods and the rearing of children. Always given a purpose.

Persian women were and remain beautiful. Brilliant. Revered. And treasured always. 

Copyright 2023 - Terran Cognito

Xerxes- A short glimpse of one moment in-between


A short glimpse of one moment in-between

This glimpse of a stoic image is purchased with both love and fond memories. We were a young family. My father’s wives were young and beautiful. My brothers were agile, mischievous, delighted in their freedoms. My sisters were soft and gentle. Yet precocious and often nosy. These were the fond moments. When days were long and productive. When fruits were falling from the trees and all hands were needed to gather and preserve and eat to their fill.

In these in between moments. When the men were home for a time from their pursuits of war and the women and children were complete. These were the moments that weave a tapestry of the ideal life. Good and plentiful food. Children with not a care in the world. Wives comforted with merely a simple glance from their men. Music played. Poetry written. And nights spent in great company beneath the stars.

Now for one specific scene. The men were home after a months long journey east. The small battle nearly forgotten. The early summer harvests begun. Busy moments ensued. Father called for a feast. No occasion. Just a simple feast. Mother and her sisters were joyous. Although the preparation for a feast consumed a whole day the results were always worth it.

An early morning hunt produced rabbits and a small doe. The gardens were alive with green herbs and radishes and onions and root vegetables small and tender. Fires were lit. The meat was roasted. The dishes prepared. The tables set out in the courtyard. Flowers collected by the younger girls were wrapped into wreaths and garlands. And why not? Life is meant to be celebrated. Sweets were prepared with thin and delicate pastries drenched in chopped nuts and warm honey.

Everyone ate. Talked. Laughed. Hours passed. The sun set. The children ran and giggled. The older boys talking loudly of manly pursuits within range of the lovely young ladies. These lovely young ladies smiling and making eyes at the young men. All in a perfect end to a perfect day. And when the scraps were removed and the tables taken down and the fires reduced to dim orange waves on thick heaps of charcoal. Everyone was satisfied. Complete. A day well lived.

These are the moments that could be once more. These in-between moments could become the every moment. It is the way life is meant to be? It is an intriguing wonder.

Copyright 2023 Terran Cognito