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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Matrons of Awesome: Introduction

September 26th, 2011 at 8:30

In March 2006, I embarked on a blogging project for Women’s History Month. I profiled 50 women from the history of Ancient Rome, over fifteen blog posts. It was fun and frantic, and I was far more concerned with telling the stories in an entertaining way than getting bogged down with academic detail.

I was still more than a year away from getting my PhD in Classics, and this was a much-needed breath of fresh air. It reminded me how much I love Roman history, and the women to be found there. It also, of course, gave me a chance to rail against some of the more frustrating aspects of studying Roman women, and highlight a whole bunch of my personal irritations.

In revisiting these posts, the temptation was to edit and rework them, though I decided to keep the series as an artefact in its own right. Then I changed my mind as soon as I saw the utterly tactless hash I had made of the Rape of the Sabine Women. So we have a mixture of posts exactly as they were, and posts I have tidied and reworked a little, for my own peace of mind. I have also included occasional commentary at the end of some chapters, when I really couldn’t help myself.

My eldest daughter Raeli (short for Aurelia, which becomes relevant in Part II) was fourteen months old when I wrote these posts. I hadn’t realised that until I scrolled past one of the old comments in which I describe my Dad watching I, Claudius while babysitting her in one room, while I finished my thesis in the other.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know then that it would be more than a year before the thesis finally was done, and I became Dr Tansy. Though maybe it would have helped if I had known that I would actually make it over the line! There were times when it seemed quite desperately uncertain.

Here it is, then, a time capsule within a time capsule, written with love and impertinence.

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Next: The Raptae
(Rape of the Sabine women, Lucretia)

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The Matrons of Awesome series was originally posted on Livejournal (LJ user: cassiphone) in March 2006 for Women’s History Month.

I’m reprinting the series as part of my Rock The Romanpunk week in celebration of my short story collection, Love and Romanpunk, which was published by Twelfth Planet Press earlier this year and is now available globally as an e-book as well as a pretty imperial purple print edition. Thanks to Wizard’s Tower Bookstore you can also now purchase it for the Kindle.

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