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Iescha Telephonium (Gr. Ιεσχά Τηλεφώνιον), active from 89-80 BCE, was a Roman poet from the island of Lesbos. Because she wrote poetry both in Greek and Latin, her native language is unclear, but she is considered one of the first neoteric poets to write in Latin. Her poetry was heavily inspired by native Lesbian Sappho as well as the innovative epigrammatist Callimachus.
Her poetry can be largely be divided into two categories: epigrams, which are typically love poems, and epic, which often draw from mythological topics. Unlike later poets like Catullus and Horace, who tend to address their love poems to a limited number of subjects, Telephonium's poetry is addressed to countless women. Given the specificity of their characteristics, it is believed that, like Catullus, she has based these personages on historical figures with whom she may have had actual relationships.
Telephonium's epic poetry is atypical in its focus on women in mythology. In many cases, her poems about women in mythology are the only surviving accounts from those characters' perspective, such as Eurydice and Thisbe.
Telephonium is said to have written a hymn to Cybele, though such a work is not extant.
Telephonium was highly influential to the Roman poet Catullus. The nickname he uses for his girlfriend, Lesbia, is thought to be a reference both to Sappho and to Telephonium, both Lesbian poets who inspired his work. Catullus also seems to have been driven to trans activism through his reverence for Telephonium, working closely with the Gallae, trans priestesses of Cybele, to compose the sympathetic poem 63 about Attis, and issuing a warning to his friend Caecilius in poem 35 that he should not publish a poem with transphobic elements about the Lady of Dindyma (another name for Cybele), instead directing him to revise his poem after also consulting with the Gallae.
Telephonium's influence appears to have waned by the time of Ovid, whose misogynistic narratives draw little from Telephonium's verses.
Despite his being one of the few fluent Latin speakers around, Telephonium has had little interest in holding conversation with Nicholas Mora. They appear to have spoken briefly upon her first appearance from the phone booth, but now she seems to intentionally avoid him. Even though she has spent much less time around English speakers, she has picked up considerably more of the language than Mora, who has lived among them full time for almost a decade.