#Thelxinoe ~ Classics News for June 16, 2022

Hodie est a.d. XVI Kal. Jul. 2775 AUC ~ 17 Skirophorion in the first year of the 700th Olympia

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What does it mean to be a “free woman” in the ancient Mediterranean world? Listen in as our guest, Dr. Stephanie Budin, joins Chelsea and Melissa to discuss women who lived outside of the traditional confines of the patriarchy and who were not under the direct control of a man. Dr. Budin, a historian and expert in ancient religion and sexuality, tells us about “harimatu” in ancient Mesopotamia and refutes the idea that these free women were prostitutes. This episode has it all: sex, gender-bending legal documents, and the dismantling of patriarchal assumptions about women’s freedom and the origins of prostitution.

The central Mediterranean is home to a bounty of creatures – fish, dolphins, and… mermaids? In today’s episode Dr Amelia Brown returns to the podcast to talk marine mammals and Merpeople. From iconic characters such as Thetis, mother to one of the most famous heroes in the ancient world (anyone heard of a man called Achilles?) to the role Nereids played throughout Greek Mythology – just what can we learn from these mythical creatures and do we really want to be part of their world?

In around 443 BCE Rome is navigating its relationships with its neighbours. Last time we caught up with Rome they became involved in the affairs of the nearby city of Ardea. The conflict seems to have centred around a very attractive plebeian woman whose name has not been recorded in the annals of history. It’s this meddling in Ardea which sets the scene for 442 BCE…

At the urging of mom (Venus) Aeneas finally decides to bolt from Troy, but not before encountering a cowering Helen lurking in the shadows. His instinct is for bloody vengeance, but once again Fate has other ideas and dust brooms our hero out the gates. Aeneas is able to save his dad and son (and meet other haggard Trojans by the ol’ cypress tree) but discovers his wife as a ghost. Creusa tells him her heart will go on and then gives him the “Hesperia” prophecy (for about the zillionth time). Then its on to Book 3! Aeneas now has a vague kind of destiny but where will it lead? Hey, Thrace!  Let’s offramp here!  NO. Delos? UH-UH. Oh Crete, then, right? TRY AGAIN. And is this Book killer or filler (like that 4th track on every Bon Jovi album)? As the Trojans slowly shed their past, brace yourself for the creepiest gardening you’ve ever encountered, stanky bird-women, and the culinary oddity of “eating one’s tables”. What is that, some kind of ancient bread bowl?  Dardanian Flatizza?

Who’s the queerest of the gods? It’s hard to say…but there’s a strong case to be made that it’s Dionysus. The god of wine and revolutionaries who rebelled ferociously against the gender binary, Dionysus breaks the mold in so many ways–and he does it with a sense of joy that’s irresistible.

In the second episode of our podcast series on the end of Roman Britain, David Musgrove investigates what life was like for people living in the later Roman era, in the third and fourth centuries. He speaks to Professor Will Bowden to explore the inequalities that existed between the haves and have-nots, and how far the stresses and strains that were at play in the wider empire impacted on everyday life in Britain.

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‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it thunders today, it portends a shortage of the necessities of life and the outbreak of war, while a prominent many will disappear from public life.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)