Lesser known women of the ancient world: a lecture series
Each year, the Friends of Antiquity at the University of Queensland, hold a professional development day for teachers and other interested classicists. In this, the International Year of Women, the theme was: lesser known women of the ancient world. The collection of speakers was impressive and engaging and the presentations were fascinating. While some of the women are certainly not 'lesser known', their recognition has come from their relationship with males - husbands, fathers, brothers. These lectures sought to discuss the significance of these women in their own right. Here is the summary:
Nefertari presented by Dr Serena Love. The key point of interest here is Nefertari's involvement in writing letters to the Queen of the Hittites after Rameses' defeat at Kadesh. It is thought that she penned these requests for peace herself. Her significance to Ramses and to Egypt is evident at Abu Simbel and in her elaborate tomb.
A selection of Roman women presented by Dr Janette McWilliam. Using a variety of primary source evidence, Dr McWilliam gave voice to the following women of the ancient world:
- Detfri and Amica - slave women from Italy
- Hateria Helpis - Roman woman AD80s
- Ummidia Quadratilla - Roman woman described by Pliny as a self indulgent grand-mother!
- Eudaimois and Aline - Egyptian business women involved in various financial predicaments
Sappho and Erinna presented by Emeritus Professor Bob Milns - a great discussion about Sappho's highly regarded poetry, some stunning readings of her words and an interesting introduction to Erinna who lived 250 years after Sappho..... I didn't know that an Australian composer - Peggy Glanville-Hicks - wrote an opera called Sappho in 1963, but it was never produced. It was recorded in 2012 by the Gulbenkian Orchestra.
Empress Theodora presented by Dr Amelia Brown. The wife of Emperor Justinian in the 6th C CE and a saint in the Greek and Syrian Orthodox Church, Theodora was an actress, concubine and single mother before becoming empress. The Hagia Sophia was built by her and Justinian as a symbol of their success over rioters in the early 6th C. - a success largely secured by Theodora, rather than Justinian.
I commend the Friends of Antiquity for their continued and passionate support of the classics. I thank the lecturers for giving up their precious time to speak with us and I look forward to 2019.