History is peppered with stories of women who have lead men into temptation and provoked civilisations and those hapless to their powers to fall.
Throughout history, women have caused wars, defied the rules and brought men to their knees. The famous and the infamous, queens, divorcées, actresses and outlaws have created a ruckus during their lifetimes – turning heads while making waves. Here are some that we think have redefined history with their almighty feminine wiles.
Eve got the ball rolling when she took a bite out of the apple from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden and nonchalantly got Adam to do the same. In doing so, she created original sin for herself and him (and basically for all mankind!). That’s about as original and nefarious as it gets. But it is in that context that she is held responsible for the injustice that women throughout time have been blamed for being temptresses.
Famous for: Causing Adam his downfall.
MARY MAGDALENE (C. 1 – 100)
Due to a mix-up in identity, Mary Magdalene carried a reputation as the most famous prostitute in history who went to Jesus for redemption. However, contrary to that belief, she was actually a fine woman who financially contributed to Jesus’ ministry and led fellow women followers.
Famous for: Supposedly begging for forgiveness at Jesus’ feet and wiping away her tears with her long locks.
CLEOPATRA (69 BC- 30BC)
When Cleopatra wasn’t bathing in milk, she was ruling Egypt. The only female pharaoh of the Ptolemaic dynasty to rule the empire was powerful enough to gather her own military and take down other empires, along with their leaders who fell for her, like Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. When she had an affair with Marc Antony, the empire turned against her and branded her as a temptress whose beauty and womanly wiles led to the fall of an empire.
Famous for: Her iconic hairstyle and everlasting eye makeup.
EMILIE DU CHÂTELET (1706-1749)
During the period where it was frowned upon for women to pursue any form of education, Emilie du Châtelet did not allow social conventions to let her intelligence and interests slide. The mathematician, physicist and author who once translated Isaac Newton’s Principia went to the extent of dressing like a man just so she could get involved in philosophical discussions with men in a ‘MEN ONLY’ cafe.
Famous for: The affair she had with the brilliant scholar Voltaire, who was also her ‘partner in crime’. When Emilie was pregnant with an illegitimate child that she had with the young poet Marquis de Saint-Lamber, she along with Voltaire and the Marquis convinced her husband that it was his.
SIDONIE GABRIELLE COLETTE (1873-1954)
She was mostly known by her pen name Colette and could very well claim the title of being the ‘Original Cougar’ when she seduced her 16-year-old stepson in her late 40s. Just as her biggest influence, her mother, Sidonie Gabrielle Colette was unconventional. The French novelist and performer, who had various affairs with both men and women, almost caused a riot for her vicarious onstage kiss in the pantomime, Rêve d’Égypte with a woman she was coincidentally seeing, Morny. The show was since banned.
Famous for: Apart from her beautifully written novels, a photograph of her bosom gave liberation to millions of French women to embrace their sexuality.