Women in the Ancient World

Literary Review May 2024 Issue: Women are everywhere in classical literature and mythology, but the lives of actual women in the ancient world are much more obscure. In the May issue of Literary Review, we try to separate reality and legend. Thanks to her entanglement with Julius Caesar and her immortalization by Shakespeare, no woman in the ancient world is now more recognizable than Cleopatra. Yet, in fact, this Cleopatra was but the seventh in a line of Egyptian queens of that name. The Cleopatran dynasty is the subject of a recently published book.

Antony Spawforth asks how it was that the Cleopatras managed to wield power in an overwhelming male world. Ancient Greece and Rome did not produce a female ruler comparable to Cleopatra, but according to a new study, women exercised hitherto unappreciated influence in the politics of both places.

Margaret Reynolds wonders how near we can get to the experiences of ancient women when so much of what is known about them comes from the writings of men.

Links to the two articles in LR:
Antony Spawforth:Eternity Was in Their Lips
Margaret Reynolds: The Face That Felled a Tyrant King