Diving Into The Wreck: Female History


History in Reveiw _ Issue 3_Image

WORDS | Claire Catacouzinos

Adrienne Rich’s poem “Diving into the Wreck” enlightens the reader of the subjugation and oppression of women throughout Western history. She mixes mythical, biblical, scientific, and historical references to women in poetic techniques that distort words away from their contextual meaning to create complex messages. The poem begins with a diver who begins a journey, involving the reader to see what they seek; what has been lost or wrecked in time. The wreck foreshadows how women have been marginalised, how the wreck is ‘of being female’ in a patriarchal world, and how women now must work to assert themselves in society. I wanted to talk about the issue of our history as females. Even the word, ‘history’ means, ‘his story’. Do you wish that the past was different?

Female writers were scarce in the ancient world. Some of you may know Sappho of Lesbos, who wrote passionate lyric poetry, and is scandalised for writing about her relationships with women. Then there is Praxilla of Sikyon who wrote drinking songs. Yet, how did these women get their names out there? The process of publication in the ancient world consisted of attending poetry and drama competitions at festivals, paying a scribe or a male drinking party to play poetry at events, and it was by ‘word of mouth’ that writers grew a reputation. Are we not happy that we at least have some female voices from the past that were able to overcome the reign of the phallus? And what about equality and our right to vote?

I believe every woman needs to be aware of female history, and, of our female identity. I support Penelope Lively’s statement that “to have a sense of history is, above all, to have a sense of one’s humanity, and without that, we are nothing.”


To read Adreinne Rich’s poem “Diving into the Wreck” got to:



And you can visit Claire’s blog about more Ancient History at:


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