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
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.
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 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).
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?
The first illustrations of people with a modern comic book style were found in the early 1900s BC. Carvings from this time period show that Egyptians played with creating comics, but they weren’t able to create them in the same way we do today.
Star-crossed lovers, fathers killing sons and a warrior bride shackling her newlywed husband to the bed, all play a role in the legendary folklore of Persia’s most famous fabled family; that of Rostam and his ancestors and descendants.
Journey to the West is a classic Chinese novel written by Wu Cheng’en in the 16th century. It depicts the adventures of a Buddhist monk and his three disciples. Although Journey to the West may be considered a pleasant introduction to the calm and gentle Buddhist philosophy behind this story is in fact a real journey by a Buddhist monk ten centuries earlier.
You may not know it, but the original Hamlet was actually a Danish Prince who had his father killed by his uncle. Over 600 years later, Shakespeare’s play about this prince is still a favorite among theater-goers. But how much do you actually know about the story behind this iconic tragedy?
Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji is one of the most celebrated novels in Japanese history. The story follows the life of Hikaru Genji, a child of nobility born into ancient Japan’s Heian Period. It was written by a woman known only as Murasaki Shikibu, who lived during this tumultuous time and recorded the customs and details of court life.
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.
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.