Our tenth Women’s Wednesday is dedicated to Libya: daughter of Epaphus and Memphis, is depicted above giving orders to three men.
Libya was also the beloved wife of Poseidon (god of the Sea) with whom she had three children: Agenor, Lelex, and Belus; the latter grew up to be a tyrant and cruel ruler of Upper Egypt. Like many other mythological figures, Libya is hard to imagine as an individual. In fact, her name is easily depersonalized and associated with the vast and magnificent area in northern Africa which bears the same name. In the De Mulieribus Claris, Boccaccio limits himself to a brief description of the woman, avoiding any kind of either criticism or compliments.
Whatever the reason why an entire country was named after her, not much else is known about Libya: it is up to our imagination to fill in the gaps.
“Libya”, illumination from the manuscript “Des cleres et nobles femmes”, ms. Royal 20 C V, f. 20r, 1st quarter of the 15th century, British Library, London.