Today's Women's Wednesday marks our last appointment with a new Mulier Clara before our Holidays break: the protagonist of our story today is Iole, a surprisingly cunning young woman from Greek mythology. While multiple versions of the myth of Iole and Hercules exist, in fact, Boccaccio decided to focus on the story given by Ovid.
Daughter of Eurytus, king of the city Oechalia, Iole was a girl of incredible beauty. Her father had promised her in marriage to whoever would have won an archery contest, to which also Hercules decided to participate. The hero had managed to win when the king, aware of the fact that the hero had murdered his previous wife and their children, broke his promise and forbade the union. Hercules responded by moving war to Oechalia, eventually killing Eurytus and kidnapping Iole. Despite being shocked by her father's murder and by her own fate, the girl was brilliant enough to feign love for her new husband, who in return quickly fell under her control. Iole thus convinced the mighty hero to do anything she wanted, including wearing flower crowns, weaving, and dressing and behaving like a maiden. Thanks to her wit alone, Iole had thus managed to avenge the death of her father by turning an oblivious Hercules from menace to laughing stock.
“Iole”, illumination from the manuscript “Des cleres et nobles femmes”, ms. Royal 20 C V, f. 34v, 1st quarter of the 15th century, British Library, London.