Goose Girl

Josephine Quinn

  • Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint by David Potter
    Oxford, 277 pp, £17.99, January 2016, ISBN 978 0 19 974076 5

One problem with writing about the lives of Greek and Roman women is that the Greek and Roman men who wrote about them first tended to be more interested in writing about other men. As a result, famous ancient women are usually famous because they had more famous male relatives. The protagonists of the ten books so far published in Oxford University Press’s series on ‘Women in Antiquity’ include a bishop’s mother (Monica), a tribune’s sister (Clodia Metelli), an emperor’s mother-in-law (Faustina I), a king’s daughter (Arsinoe) and, with some double counting, no fewer than eight politicians’ wives. Galla Placidia, the last empress of the western Roman Empire, was the daughter of one emperor, mother of another, aunt of a third, sister of two more and married not only an emperor, but before him the king of the Goths.

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