Cleobulina is most well known for her poetry, which took the form of witty riddles. Her reputation for playfulness and wisdom was held in high regard by three learned men of the time; Aristotle, Plutarch and Diogenes.
As with the majority of ancient Greek women, we know hardly anything at all about Cleobulina’s life. She was born in Rhodes and her father was Cleobulus, one of the seven sages (or wise men) of Greece. He may have educated his daughter, as she became skilled in writing poetry in hexameter and writing riddles.
The philosopher Thales described Cleobulina as having ‘a stateman’s mind’ and nicknamed her Eumetis – ‘wise counsel’. This indicates that beyond her poetry and enigmas, Cleobulina must have been an intelligent political thinker, and possibly advised her father, the ruler of Rhodes.
A thousand years after her death, Bathusa Markin used Cleobulina as an example of the triumphs of learned women to advocate the education of noble women in his own time.
The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers – Diogenes Laertius
Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology – Ian Michael Plant
An Essay to Revive the Ancient Education of Gentlewomen by Bathusa Makin