The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the achievements of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to them. Today: Eritha of Pylos

Eritha was a Mycenaean Hellenic priestess in the 13th or 12th century BC. She was one of the most significant priestesses in the Mycenaean state of Pylos, in southwestern Peloponnese. Eritha was in charge of a sanctuary dedicated to the Goddess Potnia, meaning 'Mistress'or 'Lady'. The name was inherited by Classical Greek from Mycenean Greek with the same meaning and it was applied to several Goddesses. Usually the title is Khthonic and refers to Goddesses linked to nature, birth and death. In ancient Hellas the title potnia was usually given to the Goddesses Demeter, Artemis, Athena, and Persephone along with Gaia.

In the Mycenaean era, priestesses from Pylos were known controlled land, textiles, as well as a male and female serf--Tetreus and Eratara. According to the circa 1200 BC records found in the palace of Pylos, Eritha appears to have been one of the most significant priestesses in the region. Together with another local priestess, Karpathia, she appears to be of high status in Mycenaean society, probably the same status female clergy enjoyed in Minoan Krete. Eritha, as a representative of this religious institution also appears to be responsible for the economic resources of the sanctuary.

Eritha was involved in a dispute with the local communal authorities of Pylos due to the legal status of her religious holdings. She claimed that the land of the sanctuary should be exempted from paying taxes. Eritha probably asserted her claim on behalf of the Goddess Potnia. Thus, according to her, the land of the sanctuary should have been classified as a privileged one, presumably free of obligations, rather than a regular leasehold subject to taxes. The preserved records in Pylos don't mention the outcome of this dispute. It appears that Eritha's case remained unresolved by the local authorities due to the fact that Pylos and its palace was burnt to the ground by unidentified invaders in the early 12th century BC.

We don't know much about Eritha as a person. We know that she, as a priestess, was important. She had political, social and economic power. She had serfs in her name as well as large plots of land. even her serfs were important enough to own land in their own name, not Eritha's. This is a definite symbol of Eritha status, making her one of the most powerful women of her time.