The Exploress Podcast

The Exploress Podcast

Join us as we time travel back through history, exploring the lives and stories of ladies of the past, from the everyday to the extraordinary, imagining what it might have been like to be them.... Show More

Episodes

October 9, 2020 28 min

Love them or hate them, bras have always been with us in one form or another. They've squashed us down, lifted us up, and shaped our silhouettes, a constant part of our day to day. Let's take a trip through time to see how - and why - it took shape and meet some of the women who shaped its evolution.

For a transcript of this episode, images, and more, check out my website. To become a patron, head over to my Patreon page. I...

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When we last left our Roman ladies, Octavia and Livia, their lives were changing fast. After all that bloodshed and drama, Octavian has finally been left as the last man standing in the fight for control over Rome. What happens now? Octavian becomes Augustus, Rome’s very first emperor, and the ladies become the imperial legends. Let's explore the extreme highs (and sometimes very low lows) of the women in his life.

For a transc...

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Let's trace the paths of some of ancient Rome’s first imperial superstars: the wives, sisters, and daughters who rose with Octavian (later Augustus) to become Rome’s first family: Livia, Octavia, Julia, Messalina, both Agrippinas. In a time of great change, these women had to navigate both public love and hate. They had access to power in ways that few women had before them, but to grasp it was a delicate and dangerous game.

Fo...

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Cleopatra maneuvered her way through Egyptian, Greek, and Roman politics, defying the odds to keep the Ptolemaic dynasty – and Egypt’s independence – going. But what of all the Cleopatras who came before her? In delving into Cleo’s life, I found a host of interesting women in the family that shaped her. But only one amongst them truly set the tone for the dynasty, creating a mold that had royal Ptolemaic women ruling not from behin...

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Cleopatra died more than 2,000 years ago. And yet stop any person on the street today and ask them who she was, and they’ll know – at least her name. That name has been attached to soaps and bath balms, to slot machines and casinos, to a popular brand of cigarettes. As an asteroid - 216 Kleopatra – the Egyptian queen has even made it to the stars. What is it about Cleopatra that has captured our imaginations for millennia? Why do w...

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When we last left Cleopatra, she was creeping out the back door of a chaotic Rome in the wake of Julius Caesar’s death. As she sails the waves back to Alexandria, she broods over what might happen next. She’s just lost her Roman lover, ally, and protector, in a world where Rome is increasingly calling most of the shots. And then there is Caesarion, her son with Julius Caesar. In him, she has both a valuable advantage AND a potentia...

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Last time, we saw Cleopatra grow up in the city of Alexandria, amid both luxury, excess, and the constant threat of death by family member. When her pharaoh father fled Egypt, she went with him, experiencing Rome for the very first time. General Pompey and some of their other Roman friends helped dear old dad win back his throne from his other daughter Berenice, and then, years later, he did something unfortunate: he left Egypt to ...

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Cleopatra, the last great queen of Egypt, doesn’t really need an introduction. You can see her in your mind already, can’t you? Pretty and sultry with her cat-eye makeup, covered head to toe in shiny gold. Extravagant, self-serving, ruthless: this epic seductress used every magic trick in her lady arsenal to hold onto power, no matter the cost. Didn’t she? That’s the Cleopatra the ancient Romans want us to see. The truth is that fe...

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Throughout the ages, women have used poison - but their worlds also found ways to poison them. Doctors who didn’t know better, giving them medicine that hurt instead of cured; toxic cosmetics; workplace negligence. In this special bonus episode, we travel through time to explore the link between women and poison in all its different guises, from the lady poisoners of ancient Rome up to the radium poisonings that happened in the 20t...

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It’s 47 or 46 BCE, and we’ve stepped into a private chamber, where a woman is pulling down her saffron-colored veil. Today she’s getting married, but she’s no blushing virgin. In fact, this is her third marriage, and she’s as shrewd, seasoned, and ambitious as they come. When she marries a man, she becomes his ultimate champion. And lucky for him, her fiancé is about to find out what it means to be married to Rome’s #1 lady gangste...

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In ancient Rome, a woman was defined in relation to her family. Any fame she won was supposed to be confined to the private, domestic sphere. She wove such fine wool; she kept such a fine house; she was so very chaste and never made her father look bad! They weren’t welcome in the public sphere of governance. They couldn't vote or hold office. Theirs was a distinctly patriarchal world, true fame and public achievement was suppo...

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In ancient Rome, a woman was defined in relation to her family. Any fame she won was supposed to be confined to the private, domestic sphere. She wove such fine wool; she kept such a fine house; she was so very chaste and never made her father look bad! They weren’t welcome in the public sphere of governance. They couldn't vote or hold office. Theirs was a distinctly patriarchal world, true fame and public achievement was suppo...

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Welcome to a day in the life of an ancient Roman matrona. In Part 3 of our exploration of a Roman woman's day, we go out into the streets, taking in the Coliseum, the Forum, and the famous Roman baths. We'll also go to a dinner party, then talk about sexuality in ancient Rome and what kinds of medical care we can expect to find. 

For a transcript, a list of my sources, and lots of images, check out my website. To support t...

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Welcome to a day in the life of an ancient Roman matrona. Now that we've learned a bit about Rome's overarching history, woken up, visited the bathroom, and gotten dressed and ready for the day in Part 1, let's explore our domus, meet our husband, and talk about some of our rights under the law. We'll find out what women are doing for work and take a trip to the House of Vesta to meet the Vestal Virgins, who are som...

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Let's travel back to ancient Rome and meet the women who lived amid this ancient-world juggernaut. Many are Roman citizens: the wives and daughters and sisters of influential men who use every tool at their disposal to leave a lasting mark on their fast-changing world—and survive its cutthroat rules about what women were allowed to do and be. Others are "barbarians" who refuse to bow to the ever-expanding Empire, fighti...

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Our grooming habits are a contested issue, no more so than the question of what we do with our hair down below. This is especially true for women, for whom the question of whether or not to keep the hair down there has been always been charged with social and sexual meaning. How has our relationship with our pubic hair changed over time, from ancient past to present? What influences our feelings and grooming practice? Join me and L...

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In Part 1 we met Olympias, Alexander the Great's mother, and saw her navigate some savage drama to get her and her son to the top. Now let's see what she does when he goes off conquering. When he dies, she and several of Alex's women will battle with the men around them for power - often a battle to the death - in a war for an empire that would put Game of Thrones to shame. Get ready for a whole lot of stabbing.

Check o...

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Ancient Greek queen Olympias went to epic lengths to ensure her son Alex ended up on the throne. In doing so, she helped make him worthy of his title: Alexander the Great. Alexander accomplished a lot all on his own, but there’s no doubt he got a lot of help from his momma. Despite what some people believed about women being meek and quiet, Olympias was one of the most influential people in his life. She was the ultimate momager, s...

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The ancient Greeks told lots of stories about the Amazons: the mythic bands of warrior women that Hellanikos of Lesbos described as "golden-shielded, silver-axed, man-loving, boy-killing females.” They made up fantastic stories about both loving and subduing these women who were bold, violent, promiscuous, and independent: everything a good Greek wife wasn’t supposed to be. To many they were a fantasy, equal parts exciting and ...

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The ancient Greeks told lots of stories about the Amazons: the mythic bands of warrior women that Hellanikos of Lesbos described as “a host of golden-shielded, silver-axed, man-loving, boy-killing females.” They made up fantastic stories about both loving and subduing these women who were bold, violent, promiscuous, and independent: everything a good Greek wife wasn’t supposed to be. To many they were a fantasy, equal parts excitin...

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