“For Pleasure, Pure and Simple”: the History of Chinese Opera

In “Civilization of China” (1911), Herbert Giles wrote that “for pleasure pure and simple, independent of gains and losses, the theater occupies the warmest place in every Chinaman’s heart”. The fact that the Chinese theater is also known by the name guo cui (“quintessence of the nation”) solidifies its prestige as the most important form of entertainment in China where it has been for centuries.

A Story of Castor, the Refreshingly Quiet and Surprisingly Competent Politician of Ancient Rome

The people of ancient Rome knew of a tragic hero Drusus (Drusus the Elder), the younger brother of Tiberius who died in a campaign. But there was another, younger and lesser known, Drusus in Tiberius’ family. He was Nero Claudius Drusus (Drusus the Younger, nicknamed Castor), the only son of Tiberius. The elder Drusus may have been a hero, but Castor seemed to be mostly overlooked first by his own family, as well as future historians.

The Rise of Al-Khayzuran: A Story of a Strong Woman and the Man Beside Her

Although the subject of strong women in history is always fascinating, it is a widely recognized but often forgotten fact that the greatness of a queen could not have occurred without the positive support of the male population, just as the king’s power could be maintained only because women also supported them. No power would survive for long against the apathy or opposition of half of the population. Therefore, although sons, brothers and grandsons were the only ones with an officially recognized right to inherit power, the ancient East also knew many female leaders who were successful rulers of kingdoms. In fact, Islamic history is riddled with crises that threatened to destroy a number of dynasties had it not been for the intervention of women.

Torture Your Way to Fitness – the History of Treadmill

At the end of the eighteenth century, the British began reforming their prisons. Prisons previously provided next to nothing to their occupants, according to U. R. Q. Henriques’ 1972 article “The Rise and Decline of the Separate System of Prison Discipline.” Families were forced to bring in food and blankets, and guards were bribed on a regular basis. People were worried that once prisons started providing necessities, the poor would commit crimes just to get free stuff. Such luxuries necessitated labor—ideally, painful and pointless labour.

The Bard’s Tales: Writing The Canterbury Tales

The year 1386 was the worst year of Geoffrey Chaucer’s life. But this was also the year where he made the best decision in his life. After a long period of going through every kind of worldly and professional upheaval, he set out to write his Canterbury Tales.

Pietro Aretino, a Renaissance Pornographer

Born in Arezzo in 1492, Aretino amassed considerable wealth and influence through his clever, astutely observed satirical writings and verse. He was forced to flee Rome after his sonetti lussuriosi (“Lustful Sonnets”), describing the sixteen positions depicted in Raimondi’s erotic engravings, scandalised society

One Perfect Man = Five Imperfect Demigods

The two major Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, still appear widely in popular folk drama, tales and art all over Southeast Asia with slight adaptations in all the myriad cultures of the region. Scenes from the epics are illustrated in the relief sculptures of temples such as the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Rama temple in Malaysia, and mural painting in Vat Oup Moung, a Buddhist monastery in Vientiane, Laos. The five Pandava brothers of Mahabharata especially became blue prints in many traditional cultures of the south and southeast Asia as the perfect heroes. Kings claim descendants of the brothers, and their names are used for temples and streets even to this day.

Shaman Queens

The word ‘shaman’ conjures up images of medicine men smoking peace pipes, dancing in a trance to drumming around a fire or African sangomas, adorned with leopard skin, throwing dollose bones and shells to divine and drinking beer from calabash. This is far removed from the concept of sophisticated, regal shaman queens of the East in China, Japan and Korea who used their talent and connection with the ‘Otherworld’ to the benefit of their kingdoms and populace. Later this feminine healing power was suppressed and persecuted by religious men, who regarded it as a threat to their faith.

The Service of Ladies: The Story of Ulrich Von Liechtenstein

Courtly love was sensual love for an unattainable, idealised lady, but it was essentially pure, which prohibited physical consummation – imagine all of the angst, desire, and jealousy that could incite passion if there was no physical release. That was the theory, at least.

Fredegund

Fredegund (545 – 597 CE), the queen consort of Chilperic I – the Merovingian Frankish king of Soissons, has a reputation of being one of the most bloodthirsty and sadistic women in history. Accounts by Gregory, the Bishop of Tours (539 – 594 CE), depict her as a murderous lady who achieved power through her husband and used it to keep his kingdom in a state of war for more than forty years. She was also known as an early exponent of dirty warfare who relied heavily on poison and other covert operations