Dear Propertius: Ancient Advice for the Modern Woman with Timeless Questions, Part 2

A Quick Recap: Two weeks ago I posted my first “Dear Propertius Letter,” an adaptation of Ovid’s Amores 1.1, “Love’s Victim.” [Scroll down the hopeadvancedlatin homepage if you would like to re-read the post, it is the third one from the bottom].

This Week: First, as promised I will supply Propertius’s response to the first letter in the form of a modern adaptation of Propertius 1.6. A discussion on why modern women should hang up their capes either permanently, or in the very least, periodically, will follow the poem. Enjoy!

Dear Currently Capeless Crusader,

Hold fast to your own dreams.

Leave your cape—that yolk of expectations—

at home from time to time. Instead,

arm yourself with this speech:

I’d go toe to toe with the toughest of CEOs,

sisters, while raising a gaggle of children,

conquering a mountain of dirty laundry,

creating a gourmet dinner,

and standing up for our rights.

But the former Superwoman called,

crying, sighing, begging, and pleading.

She wants her title back.

Her soul is inflamed with jealousy for me.

Should I refuse her request, she swears, there is no Justice.

Not for one minute can I stand such complaints.

For my own doubled, tripled, and quadrupled

workload has made me sick and tired.

What’s the point of keeping up with the Joneses

if at night I’m too tired to do anything else but sleep?

Sisters, continue to strive for that illustrious role

if it will make you happy

then I support your quest to “have it all.”

I, however, have relinquished my full claim.

Now I’m only a part-time quadruple threat.


If not “having it all” is a sin,

Let me utterly lose my soul to shame.

I am forever indebted to the women

who aided in the creation of this title—

But I am not fit for glory, not born to lead our League.

But sisters, whether you march

on Washington, or storm a Bastille,

remember, that while I am no longer a Superwoman

I am still your devoted sidekick,

living under the same patriarchal rule.



Women, it has been proven over and over again that the extra little tail on our set of chromosomes does not indicate that we are mythological beings with super powers. Now, this does not mean that we are weak creatures created only for the purpose of serving and picking up after men. It just means that our bodies have limits. TRANSLATION: it is physically impossible for us to do it all so that we may have it all all of the time.  I suggest that we all take off our individual capes…just for a while…and place one, massive, all-encompassing, uniting cape over the shoulders of all women (and any men that want to join in on the fun). In doing so, women will no longer have to undertake the Herculean task of becoming Superwoman and “having it all” on their own. Instead, they can work as one unit. This will allow women to focus on doing what they are best at—for example, some of us are excellent teachers, but struggle to understand legalese. Together, sisters, we can have it without having to do it. Don’t be afraid to become a part-time double, triple, or quadruple threat. It won’t make you any less of a woman or any less of a feminist. And remember, we can accomplish so much more together than we will ever achieve as individuals struggling to become the mythological being: Superwoman.

[Where I Found my Information: For this post I relied primarily upon my prior knowledge of historical events, famous sayings, and popular culture. Because some of my readers my not be as well versed in the areas I am, I provided several links to websites that explain what the phrase “Keeping up with the Jonses means” and why I got the phrases, “Hold fast to your dreams” (Langston Hughes) and “sick and tired” (Fannie Lou Hamer). In order to find these sites, I used Google. The bulk of my original research for this poem was on Superwoman and comic book characters. In order to find reliable sources, I used the search engine While I looked at many sites, I found Elliot S! Maggin’s Unofficial Superwoman biography to be the most comprehensive source of information on the history of the Superwoman character. I believe that this site is reliable because it is copyrighted, associated with D.C. Comics, and Maggin worked as a writer for D.C. comics at one time. I could not find his C.V., but he does have a bio page on IMDb.]

Maddy Northuis


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