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Ancient History Fangirl

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Ancient History Fangirl

Jenny Williamson and Genn McMenemy

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An ancient history podcast run by two Millennial women. Misbehaving emperors, poison assassins, mythological mayhem; it’s like if Hardcore History met up with My Favorite Murder in the ancient world, with a heavy helping of booze and laughter. New episodes weekly. Currently in ancient Greece.
 
The History of Ancient Greece Podcast is a deep-dive into one of the most influential and fundamental civilization in world history. Hosted by philhellene Ryan Stitt, THOAG spans over two millennia. From the Bronze Age to the Archaic Period, from Classical Greece to the Hellenistic kingdoms, and finally to the Roman conquest, this podcast will tell the history of a fundamental civilization by bringing to life the fascinating stories of all the ancient sources and scholarly interpretations of ...
 
The Near East - the region known politically as the Middle East - is the home of both a long and eventful history as well as a much longer and fascinating prehistory. Here on Pre History I will cover the story of the Near East as we know it from the archaeological study of what people left behind as hunter-gatherers turned into farmers, as villages turned into cities, and as empires rose and fell.
 
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The Crown Games were the apex of competition in ancient Greece. Along with prestigious athletic contests in honor of Zeus at Olympia, they comprised the Pythian Games for Apollo at Delphi, the Isthmian Games for Poseidon, and the Nemean Games, sacred to Zeus. For over nine hundred years, the Greeks celebrated these athletic and religious festivals,…
 
This episode is part of our abortion rights takeover series. It was originally dropped on our Patreon. It deals with the miracle plant of ancient Greece and Rome: Silphium. The people of Cyrene printed it on their money. It was considered a delicacy throughout the Greek and Roman world, as well as a powerful medicine that could be used to cure ever…
 
In this episode we head south to look at one of the major cultures of the Southern Levant during the sixth millennium BCE - the Wadi Rabah. While there is a lot that we know about the Wadi Rabah culture, there is also a lot that we argue about. Really, a lot. If you have any questions or comments you can email me at prehistorypodcast@gmail.com or r…
 
Time for the big one. Cannae is one of the most famous battles of antiquity. Not only did Rome suffer a crushing defeat but the tactics behind the victory have been studied by generals and military tacticians ever since. In this episode I discuss what happened in the lead up to it, trust me there's a drama at every turn. From dictators to deceptive…
 
Emma Natalya Stein's book Constructing Kanchi: City of Infinite Temples (Amsterdam UP, 2021) traces the emergence of the South Indian city of Kanchi as a major royal capital and multireligious pilgrimage destination during the era of the Pallava and Chola dynasties (circa seventh through thirteenth centuries). It presents the first-ever comprehensi…
 
Since the original airing of this episode in June 2021, Roger Reeves' second book Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. was published by W.W. Norton, and the paperback edition of David Ferry's translation of The Aeneid was published by the University of Chicago Press. The underworld, that repository of the Shades of the Dead, gets a lot of traffic …
 
This episode is part of our abortion rights takeover. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled series on gender rebels on June 2. In this re-release, Kate from the Exploress podcast joined us to discuss the intimate lives of sex workers in ancient Greece and Rome--including methods of contraception and abortion. Pliny the Elder interviewed sex work…
 
To many the city might seem simply a large urban area to live within, but it actually forms an important political concept and community that has been influential throughout European history. From the polis of Ancient Greece, to the Roman Republic, to the city-states of the Italian Renaissance, and down to the present day. Modern concepts of democr…
 
What happened to people in ancient Rome who were freed from slavery? Turns out there were still invisible threads--economic pressures, imbalances of status, and debts owed to wealthy patrons--that kept many of them in bondage. On the streets of Pompeii, freedom came at a steep price--especially for women. Today, we talk to Elodie Harper--bestsellin…
 
As most of you probably already know, abortion rights in the US are under attack. Somebody leaked a Supreme Court initial majority draft that was a full throated, loud and proud revocation of pregnant-capable people’s right to choose who gets to use our bodies. Abortion is a totally normal procedure that people have been doing for millennia--probab…
 
In 510 BC, an obscure Greek city located literally on a backwater revolted against its tyrant. This was not extraordinary; such things happened regularly in the many Greek city-states. What followed however was extraordinary, and even world-changing. Athens became a democracy. Then just seventeen years after that, Athens and its tiny ally of Platae…
 
This week, we're taking a break from the story of Achilles to discuss the Illiad from an angle that's not as often covered: the story of the women of the House of Atreus, the family of Agamemnon. In this episode, bestselling author Jennifer Saint introduces us to Clytemnestra and Elektra--Agamemnon's wife and daughter--as well as the priestess and …
 
Core Buddhist teachings are preserved in the ancient Indian language Pali. Listen in as Aleix Ruiz-Falqués speaks about its structure, its significance, and opportunities to study it with him online. Raj Balkaran is a scholar, online educator, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/…
 
For nearly 3,000 years, the question of what it means to be Greek has been one of perennial interest—and, incredibly enough, not only to the Greeks. How a collection of small cities and kingdoms around the northeastern Mediterranean Sea laid down precepts for science, the arts, politics, law, and philosophy is one of the great historical stories. T…
 
In this episode, we explore what happened to gender in the pressure-cooker of ancient war. To do that, we skip ahead ten years to a different beach: the war-blasted, corpse-strewn sands below the walls of Troy. As the Trojan War dragged on, the most respect went to those who were able to slaughter and pillage and plunder: gender for men devolved in…
 
Although the era of the Enlightenment witnessed the rise of philosophical debates around benevolent social practice, the origins of European humane discourse date further back, to Classical Athens. The Ancient Greek Roots of Human Rights (U Texas Press, 2021) analyzes the parallel confluences of cultural factors facing ancient Greeks and eighteenth…
 
In this rebroadcast, John and Brandeis neuroscientist Gina Turrigiano (an occasional host and perennial friend of Recall this Book) speak with Madeline Miller, author of the critically acclaimed bestseller Circe. Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: ferry@brandeis.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of…
 
In our last episode we looked at Achilles’ early life and his relationships with the women who crossed his path. In this episode, we follow him to the beach at Aulis—where all the Greek kings and heroes, anyone who was anyone, had gathered at the start of the Trojan War. Achilles left Pyrrha behind, but his time as a dancing girl followed him to th…
 
Today I talked to Patrick Olivelle about his book Grhastha: The Householder in Ancient Indian Religious Culture (Oxford UP, 2019). For scholars of ancient Indian religions, the wandering mendicants who left home and family for a celibate life and the search for liberation represent an enigma. The Vedic religion, centered on the married household, h…
 
Robin Waterfield is the author of numerous books about ancient Athens including Xenophon's Retreat, Why Socrates Died, Creators, Conquerors, and Citizens, and more. He has also translated the works of Aristotle, Plato, Xenophon, and more from ancient Greek. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices…
 
Achilles is so often portrayed as the most masculine of heroes, but those portrayals generally leave out that he spent a few years of his life passing as a girl. Today, we’re going to explore that time in Achilles’ life, and what it tells us about his gender. We’ll also delve into his relationships with the women in his early life: his mom, Thetis,…
 
Nowhere on Earth is there an ecological transformation so swift and so extreme as between the snow line of the high Andes and the tropical rainforest of Amazonia. Because of that, the different disciplines that research the human past in South America have tended to treat these two great subzones of the continent as self-contained enough to be stud…
 
Dr. Carrie Duncan is an Assistant Professor of ancient Mediterranean religions at the University of Missouri. She is a senior staff member on the following projects in Jordan: the Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project, the Petra North Ridge Project, and the Madaba Plains’ excavation. She teaches courses on the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, the Jesus …
 
In the first part of our Gender Rebels series, we talked about queer history—queer women, Intersex people, transgender people, and eunuchs. Now, we’re going to begin another series that takes that lens to Greek mythology. There are plenty of queer myths that break the binary as the ancient Greeks saw it—and heroes and gods who were gender rebels. S…
 
As modern empires rise and fall, ancient Rome becomes ever more significant. We yearn for Rome's power but fear Rome's ruin--will we turn out like the Romans, we wonder, or can we escape their fate? That question has obsessed centuries of historians and leaders, who have explored diverse political, religious, and economic forces to explain Roman de…
 
Julius Caesar was no aspiring autocrat seeking to realize the imperial future but an unusually successful republican leader who was measured against the Republic's traditions and its greatest heroes of the past. Catastrophe befell Rome not because Caesar (or anyone else) turned against the Republic, its norms, and institutions, but because Caesar's…
 
We love the mini-series we’ve done on the Sacred Band of Thebes. And we wanted to give you a chance to binge the entire thing. So, for the first time ever we’re dropping a really really long episode. Like road trip long! If you were planning a trip through the Peloponnese (swoon) – then this is the episode for you. Next week we’re going to follow o…
 
In her book, The Idea of Marathon, Dr Nevin explores the Battle of Marathon from different angles. Not just the events prior to it, but what we know about the battle and how later generations made sense of it all (this includes the modern period). Join us as we cover a lot of ground (historically inaccurate pun intended). There are complaining Gree…
 
When we think of pre-Buddhism Chinese philosophy, ideas such as filial piety and “the Dao” might come to mind. But what was at stake in the philosophical debates of early Chinese thinkers, from Confucius to Zhuangzi? What were the epistemic legacies that they have left for the world? In Origins of Moral Political Philosophy in Early China (Oxford U…
 
Last week, we told you about the Sacred Band’s first important military victories—victories that depended on the intense trust and love the Sacred Band members had for each other. Victories that showed that the Spartans weren’t so tough after all. But as Spartan control in Greece receded, opportunistic warlords and upstart city-states rose up to ta…
 
The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert (Oxford UP, 2022) reveals the untold story of a pioneering African American classical scholar, teacher, community leader, and missionary. Born into slavery in rural Georgia, John Wesley Gilbert (1863-1923) gained national prominence in the early 1900s, but his accomplishments are littlekn…
 
In this episode, we discuss the life and death of Sokrates (ca. 470-399 BC), who is widely considered to be the father of western philosophy, with in-depth overviews of Aristophanes' Clouds and Plato's dialogue Euphyro, Apologia, Krito, and Phaido. Show Notes: http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/2022/03/109-sokrates.html…
 
In What John Knew and What John Wrote: A Study in John and the Synoptics (Fortress, 2020), Wendy E. S. North investigates whether or not the author of John could have crafted his Gospel with knowledge of the Synoptics. Unlike previous approaches, which have usually treated the Gospel according to John purely as a piece of literature, this book unde…
 
In our last episode, we told you the story of how the Spartans took over the city of Thebes and how an intrepid and very queer group of Theban rebels, led by a firebrand named Pelopidas, took it back while dressed as women. The Thebans had their city back. Now they had to figure out how to hold it against the Spartans, because the Spartans would st…
 
This book presents for the first time in English a complete translation of the Expository Commentary to the Daode jing, written by the Daoist monk Cheng Xuanying in the 7th century CE. This commentary is a quintessential text of Tang dynasty Daoist philosophy and of Chongxuanxue or Twofold Mystery teachings. Cheng Xuanying proposes a reading of the…
 
Long before Herodotus told the story of the Greeks, the ancient Mediterranean teemed with what the Greeks themselves would recognize as hallmarks of civilization: trade and commerce, cities and colonies, luxury goods and craftsmanship, cults and votives, inscriptions and their prerequisite, written language. Behind this vast network, stretching as …
 
In the nineteenth century, teams of men began digging the earth like never before. Sometimes this digging—often for sewage, transport, or minerals—revealed human remains. Other times, archaeological excavation of ancient cities unearthed prehistoric fossils, while excavations for irrigation canals revealed buried cities. Concurrently, geologists, e…
 
The time was the 300s BC. The place was Thebes. And in this place, in this time, there was an elite military force—the best of the best special ops shock troops—made up of 150 male lovers. Their love for each other was the key to their strength. It made them better fighters. More effective. It made them strong enough to break the iron-fisted contro…
 
The Halaf culture was first discovered on the eve of the first world war at Tell Halaf in eastern Syria. The beautifully made and elaborately decorated pottery of this culture made it a sensation in the archaeology of the ancient Near East in the early twentieth century, as no one had previously imagined that small and simple farming villages could…
 
The first book on alcohol in pre-modern India, James McHugh's An Unholy Brew: Alcohol in Indian Religion and History (Oxford UP, 2021) uses a wide range of sources from the Vedas to the Kamasutra to explore intoxicating drinks and styles of drinking, as well as sophisticated rationales for abstinence found in South Asia from the earliest Sanskrit w…
 
The Bible as we know it today is best understood as a process, one that begins in the tenth century BCE. In The Making of the Bible: From the First Fragments to Sacred Scripture (Harvard University Press, 2021), a world-renowned scholar of Hebrew scripture joins a foremost authority on the New Testament to write a new biography of the Book of Books…
 
Last week, we focused on people who chose to undergo castration for religious reasons. But this probably wasn’t the most common experience most people had who were castrated. Enslaved people were castrated as well--often in childhood. Today, we're going to take a deep dive into their lives and circumstances. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit …
 
Zhao Feiyan (45-1 BCE), the second empress appointed by Emperor Cheng of the Han dynasty (207 BCE-220 CE), was born in slavery and trained in the performing arts, a background that made her appointment as empress highly controversial. Subsequent persecution by her political enemies eventually led to her being forced to commit suicide. After her dea…
 
The focus on Trasimene is often largely about the events of the day, but what is as interesting are the events leading up to it. What choices did Hannibal have and how did Rome try to anticipate him? As well as the battle I discuss the details and events leading up to the battle. A transcription and episode notes (with maps etc) can be found on www…
 
The Biblical Book of Esther reads like a classic fable, a drama of actors who are recognizable archetypes. There is Esther, the beautiful orphan who becomes queen, Ahasuerus, the buffoon king, Haman, the prototype of evil, and Mordecai, the wise, courageous, and loyal hero. The Book of Esther takes us to the heart of destiny’s moments: a beautiful …
 
In ancient Rome, there were a lot of eunuchs. Some were enslaved, some were free; some were members of religious cults, some were not. No study of queer history in ancient Greece and Rome would be complete without them. Today, we’re going to take a look at the history of people who underwent castration in the Roman Empire—why they did it, when they…
 
Eviatar Shulman's Visions of the Buddha: Creative Dimensions of Early Buddhist Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2021) offers a ground-breaking approach to the nature of the early discourses of the Buddha, the most foundational scriptures of Buddhist religion. Although the early discourses are commonly considered to be attempts to preserve the Bu…
 
The Catholic Epistles often get short shrift. Tucked into a few pages near the back of our Bibles, these books are sometimes referred to as the "non-Pauline epistles" or "concluding letters," maybe getting lumped together with Hebrews and Revelation. Yet these letters, Darian Lockett argues, are treasures hidden in plain sight, and it's time to giv…
 
Today I talked to Jarrod Whitaker about his book Strong Arms and Drinking Strength: Masculinity, Violence, and the Body in Ancient India (Oxford UP, 2011). The Rgveda contains over a thousand hymns, addressed primarily to three gods: the deified ritual Fire, Agni; the war god, Indra; and Soma, who is none other than the personification of the sacre…
 
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