Eumachia of Pompeii (1st century CE)


Priestess and Property Developer Lying in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius on the Bay of Naples, Pompeii is an enduring reminder of the power of nature and the ordinary people who lived in the complex, advanced and often cruel Roman world. Once a large town with a busy port, Pompeii was buried by a volcanic … Read more

Tanaquil the Kingmaker (7th century BCE)

tanaquil the kingmaker 7th century bce

Before Rome was established as an ancient superpower, it had a series of kings from bordering tribes. Two of these kings were brought to power by Tanaquil: the queen of Rome and kingmaker. The daughter of a powerful Etruscan family, Tanaquil married Tarquinius Priscus from the nearby kingdom of Etruria. She knew that while they … Read more

Mars, Venus and Mercury: Antiquated Gender Symbols


‘Men are from Mars and women are from Venus’, is thankfully now an outdated adage. But the gender symbols we have been used for centuries to differentiate the gender binary and, now updated to include non-binary genders, remain in use – including on this site! So where do these symbols come from? Mythology Allegedly, these … Read more

Artemisia II of Caria (?-351 BCE)


The Ashes-Eating Wonder Builder The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria… You may have heard of some if not all of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but did … Read more

Hydna of Scione (c. 480 BCE – Unknown)

swimming for victory hydna of scione greek war hero c 480 bce unknown

Swimming for Victory What is lurking beneath the waves? Do we know what unseen dangers we may encounter as we explore the world’s oceans? What is watching us in the dark depths of the seas? If you’ve seen any disaster movie set on the high seas, you’ll know what we mean. You may even be … Read more

Sappho of Lesbos (c. 630 – c. 570 BCE)


Singing Both Ways Only three sources of information about Sappho’s life survive: what we find in her poetry, contemporary histories and testimonies written by readers of her work, hundreds of years after Sappho was writing. If we read her own work biographically, we learn in the Brothers Poem (discovered as recently as 2014!) that Sappho … Read more

Cloelia, Roman Heroine (C6th BCE)

cloelia roman heroine porsena tiber

The Great Escape The story we are going to tell today is an interesting one but, like most stories from the ancient world, problematic. It concerns a period of history known as Early Roman which is a difficult time to study given the host of source issues we encounter. The majority of our sources from … Read more

Women with Athenian Citizenship


Most of our sources from the Classical period (500 – 323 BCE) come from Athens, a city-state (polis) in the region of Attica in present-day Greece. Greece as we know it today did not exist in the ancient world, and the region was made up of a number of city-states, e.g. Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, etc. … Read more

Agnodice of Athens

agnodice athens doctor midwife

The Cross-Dressing, Flashing Physician nce upon a time in Athens, there lived a young woman named Agnodice. Agnodice wanted to be a doctor but the law forbade women and enslaved people from practising medicine. Unafraid of the law, Agnodice decided to disguise herself as a man, cutting off her hair and dressing in clothing usually … Read more

Queen Berenice IV of Egypt (77 BCE – 55 BCE)

queen berenice iv of egypt

The Forgotten Ptolemy Sister Born to Pharaoh Ptolemy XII Auletes and Cleopatra V Tryphaena of Egypt (who may have been siblings – but that’s another story), Berenice’s early life would have been relatively comfortable compared to the majority of her parents’ Egyptian subjects who relied on the Nile’s annual flood to ensure their farms and … Read more