Blame it on the Theater: The Joys of being Actors and Actresses in Ancient Rome

The church tried to ‘release these unhappy slaves of a cruel voluptuousness’. By the time of Valentinian I, who reigned from 364 to 375 AD, the church had gained considerable grounds in ‘rehabilitating’ performers and introducing them into respectable society. An actress who, on her death bed, asked for and received the last sacraments, had to promise to never return to her ‘hateful’ theatrical life in case she recovered. This was just one episode of of the many adventures of actors and actresses in ancient Rome

Wuxia and the History of Kung Fu Movies: Legendary Tales of Chivalrous Martial Heroes of Ancient China

Those who are familiar with the Chinese word wuxiá (“martial heroes”) may associate the word with memories of  martial arts films and television programs that portray a fanciful depiction of Chinese martial arts to audiences around the world. However, there is more to wuxia than meets the eye. Wuxia is in fact an entire literary genre that depicts the exploits of ancient Chinese martial artists. It has proven to be popular enough to be used in a number of modern cultural media, including Chinese opera, films, television series and video games.

Writing about the Tragic Comedy of Ancient Greek Women

Euripides was not only critical towards religions and ancient legends, he was also considered to be the biggest social critic of all the ancient Greek tragedians. He introduced strong female characters and intelligent slaves, as well as satirizing many of the heroes of Greek mythology.

The Strange and Beautiful Stories of Cinderella from Asia

The Cinderella story is a tale of serendipity and love – both of which are universal themes. These themes are perhaps the reason why the story seems to transcend time itself and became one of the world’s go-to princess tales, recognized all over the world albeit under different names. While there are many variants of the story, they commonly feature a young woman in unjust and oppressive circumstances whose fortune are remarkably and unexpectedly changed with the assistance of divine elements such as magical animals and fairy godmothers (or godfathers).

From Erotica to Historical Fiction: Ancient History of Romance Novels

The history of romance novels and erotica is vast and fascinating! But what do we actually know about the genre? Where did it come from? How has it changed over the years? And why has it continued to be popular for centuries, even though in some cultures, erotica is still hidden?

Stories of the Little Emperors: Some Babies Shake Up Kingdoms

Some babies shake rattles and others shake up kingdoms. We hear many stories of the unhappy lives and ends of child rulers. Most recently, in 1908, Puyi became the last emperor of China at only two years old. As the crowning ceremony began, the frightened little emperor had to be carried to the throne by his father as he cried, kicked, and clawed – desperately trying to escape. But he had no choice. A child though he was, he had to rule an empire.

Battle of the Tragic Heroes: Legends of India’s Karna, Greek’s Achilles and Ireland’s Ferdiad

Every culture had strong influences on each other and their legends. A minor example of this can be seen in something as simple as a body armor – Ancient India’s Karna’s kawach (“armour”) has been compared with that of Ancient Greek’s Achilles’ Styx-coated body and with Ancient Irish warrior Ferdiad’s horny skin that could not be pierced.

The Rape of Lucretia: Politics and the Woman’s Body

We would often see her images and, perhaps just as often, forget her name. In paintings, she is a beautiful tragic figure, looking up helplessly towards a Roman soldier standing over her. However, in 16th century Europe, there was no other ancient name that fuels an artist’s imagination like “Lucretia”.

“Heaven loves men dearly not without reason”: Heaven and the Otherworld through Ancient Beliefs

The concept of the afterlife in the ancient world is more varied and somewhat more complicated. Unlike travelling to hell, which seems to be a much quicker process, a soul’s journey to heaven consists of various tests and layers before it could reach its final resting place.

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.