NOTE: During 1998-1999, many of the women of Ancient Sites Community, which folded in 1999, created web sites about women in history who inspired them, and led online chats at two Celebration of Women events, organized and moderated by Torrey Philemon of Ancient Sites Athens (also known as Tika Yupanqui of Macchu Picchu, and Tracy Marks in real life). Tracy has posted most of these chats here, although most of the web pages, and all Ancient Sites links, no longer exist. This was a grand and pioneering event, worth preserving! Tracy has also preserved online many of her Ancient Sites Greek mythology articles and two years worth of transcripts from Greek classics and mythology chats. They are now located HERE

Chat Transcript    Mar. 14, 1999
Gorgo and Egeria
Queen Christina of Sweden

GORGO and EGERIA by Myrrhine Solon

14:10 TORREY PHILEMON: Myrrhine is going to talk on two women next, Gorgo of Sparta and Egeria, an early medieval nun. Web pages at XXXXX
14:11 MYRRHINE SOLON: Two very different women, yet I've managed to create a parallel between them.
14:11 TORREY PHILEMON: Do your best, Myrrhine (at least when we're sick - I have strep throat myself - we don't have to talk aloud or be visible here!)
14:113 christus Curius enters...
JULIA MANACH: Hi Christus!
14:11 MYRRHINE SOLON: Yes, true. I seem, however, to have a nasty fever. So shall I begin with Gorgo?
14:12 Judith Cornelius enters...
MYRRHINE SOLON: Gorgo was a one of the very rarely mentioned queens of Sparta. She was the daughter of Kleomenes and the wife of Leonidas, who died at the Battle of Thermopylae.
14:14 TORREY PHILEMON: Begin anywhere you want, Myrrhine! We're a captive audience.
14:15 MYRRHINE SOLON: She is the best known Spartan woman as she appears numerous times throughout Herodotos (I have posted an essay on Spartan women in Herodotos at the Rhetra).
14:15 MYRRHINE SOLON: Her role in The Histories is unique and she is seen in an active role in the Spartan political arena.
14:16 MYRRHINE SOLON: Before I continue, I must mention that we must be extremely careful when we study anything Spartan. We MUST remember from where our evidence is derived: Athenian  and anti-Spartan sources. So, we are faced with a bias from the beginning.
14:17 MYRRHINE SOLON: She is seen in the context of an advisor to her father when she warns him against Aristagoras.
14:17 christus Curius exits...
MYRRHINE SOLON: She states to her father, 'Father, you had better go away or the stranger will corrupt you.'
14:20 MYRRHINE SOLON: This is her first appearance in Herodotos and of course it grabs the attention of anyone involved in studies of women in antiquity. However, we must be careful when we cite these events.  I am somewhat hesitant to state that women in Sparta had such a high position. It seems to me that these are based on her status as daughter of Kleomenes and wife of Leonidas. There are few others in Herodotos who can be compared to her.
14:21 MYRRHINE SOLON: She later (in Herodotos) is the only one able to discover how to read a secret message from Demaratos. She thus aids the Spartans and their position in pan-Hellenic politics.
14:22 MYRRHINE SOLON: Before I forget, when she advised her father against Aristagoras, she was only eight or nine. This too makes one wonder about her position in Herodotos. It has always appeared to me that the Spartan women almost become a literary device in the hands of non-Spartan writers from Herodotos to Aristotle.
14:24 MYRRHINE SOLON: However, Herodotos is not the only to mention this famed Spartan queen. Plutarch, who collected quotes from Spartan men and women, states that Gorgo when asked by an Athenian woman: 'Why are you Spartan women the only ones who can rule men?' To which she replied: ''Because we are also the only ones who give birth to men.'
14:26 MYRRHINE SOLON: She is seen as the perfect Spartan woman. She is clever and she knows her position in the social spheres of Sparta. This can further deduced in the writings Plutarch has bequeathed to us.
14:27 christus Curius enters...
MYRRHINE SOLON: I only wish we had more on Gorgo and on the women of Sparta, but unfortunately, due to the fact most of our information of Ancient Greece is derived from literature which emanated from Athens, we have little. Of course, the Peloponnesian Wars created a myth that surrounded Sparta and survived until the Roman period.
14:29 MYRRHINE SOLON: If anyone is interested in the remainder of my thoughts on Spartan women (I promised myself that I would only speak about Gorgo today), there is some information on my website and a thread devoted entirely to this subject at the Rhetra.
14:30 MYRRHINE SOLON: Before I move onto Egeria, I would like to discuss a facet of historiography and Spartan women. I feel that one must keep this mind while studying Gorgo. It is imperative.
14:30 TORREY PHILEMON: On your web page, Myrrhine you say that Spartan women didn't live with their husbands, but had almost secret meetings to be with them.....Unusual custom.
14:31 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Myrrhine, I am not well versed in Greek history. Would you mind to enlighten me about who was Aristagoras and what's the importance of Gorgo's advice to her father?
14:31 MYRRHINE SOLON: We must keep in mind that these women were given these 'freedoms' for one reason: eugenics. If one reads the 'Life of Lykourgos' by Plutarch, one can gain a sense of this. So, while Gorgo's position may appear to be quite different from any other women in Greece(and especially Athens), I think it was not.  The 'freedom' they experienced was not true freedom and should not be quoted as such.
14:32 MYRRHINE SOLON: Torrey, basically that was to ensure a sense of comraderie among the Spartiate hoplites.
14:33 MYRRHINE SOLON: A man was expected to stay in his barracks until a late age and even then was expected to take all meals in his particular mess. It allowed the women to be in reality the 'lords' of the oikoi.
14:34 MYRRHINE SOLON: The Spartans valued motherhood highly and in fact, there will only two ways a Spartan would receive their name on a gravestone: death in battle or death in childbirth. We see this when Gorgo asks her husband Leonidas what she should do (it seems almost as if Plutarch foreshadows his demise). He tells her 'Marry a good man and bear good children.'
14:35 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Also, after reading your page about Gorgo, I have the feeling that Spartan women were giving the "freedom" to exercise almost like in the manner men would do. And that it "seems" that they were also literate. Is this a biased Athenian account or are there historical evidence that Spartan women received intellectual education in a proportionally high degree as they were taught physics education?
14:35 MYRRHINE SOLON: I think Herodotos is attempting to emphasize this aspect of Spartan society with his stories of Gorgo (I'm sorry about the incoherent nature of the postings)
14:37 MYRRHINE SOLON: Ah, the evidence of Spartan society. Good question, Morgana.  The Spartans were very proud of their literacy, but of course none of their materials survive. We are told this by the Athenians and other writers. However, I think we can be assured that this is true to some degree. The only evidence we have for Spartan women being literate (and writing poetry) is ONE quote from Aristophanes. He mentions two women poets. In addition, it is often cited that the women of Sparta were also philosophers: Pythagoreans to be exact.
14:38 MYRRHINE SOLON: Oh, I didn't even answer your question. I think they were given a more physical than mental education. Lykourgos thought that the best offspring would be born from the best parents. However, since the Spartans weren't pursuing intellectual facets, they focused on more physical traits.
14:41 MYRRHINE SOLON: This gynokratia (which is what Aristotle calls Sparta) is used as a device both in negative and positive lights. If one wished to criticize one's city-state(usually Athens), one would then praise Athens. It was sort of a roundabout way, but this method is seen in Hesiod. Often, the women of Sparta are discussed to perhaps criticize the position of women in other city-states (Plato and Athens)
14:41 MORGANA FLAVIUS: This is what puzzles me, Myrrhine. We have some women who stood up higher then their male and female fellow citizens in the Middle Ages. But we know for sure that, on a general basis, women were NOT literate at that time.
14:42 MYRRHINE SOLON: It is vital to realize though, as Morgana had, the bias of writers against Sparta. This went beyond Athens as Sparta could be found in Roman writing and even becomes a subject for Degas. There is a book on the mythology of Sparta in fact.
14:42 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Is there any evidence that there were "courtesans" (hetairas) in Sparta, as there were in Athens, for instance?
14:43 MYRRHINE SOLON: There are many things which puzzle me about Sparta, Morgana. It's mainly due to the nature of the sources.
14:43 MYRRHINE SOLON: No, there are no documented hetairai in Sparta. Hetairai in Athens were by nature xenoi, Sparta allowed very few non-Spartans to enter their city-state. There are a few exemptions, of course.
14:45 MYRRHINE SOLON: Sorry, Morgana, I just saw your question about Aristagoras. He was an Ionian who wished to begin a revolt (I believe) and he had already attempted to court the Athenians. His aim was pretty much equated with disaster. It's hard thought to swallow to attack the Persian king.
14:46 MORGANA FLAVIUS: All I read about marriage habits in Sparta, in your page on Gorgo, Myrrhine, lead me to think that Hitler was a kind of Lycourgos when he advocated his "arian race" principles...
14:47 MYRRHINE SOLON: Aristagoras was the deputy tyrant of Miletus. Herodotos states that he was the instigator of the Ionian Revolt.
14:48 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Aristagoras wished to begin the revolt against the Persians?
14:49 MYRRHINE SOLON: An interesting parallel. We also need to remember that Lykourgos was the mythical lawgiver (can be equated with Theseus of Athens and Numa of Rome). His figure is a conflation of many, I'm certain. It's hard to say which facets came into use when. 
14:49 MYRRHINE SOLON: Morgana--Yes, he seized a Persian fleet, I believe. The Ionian states were under the control of the Persian king.
14:49 MYRRHINE SOLON: Should I begin on Egeria and save questions for later?
14:50 christus Curius enters...
MYRRHINE SOLON: There's so much more to be said which I didn't add to that page. Time constraints. I can recommend readings after as well.
14:51 TORREY PHILEMON: Too bad we don't know more about Spartan women.....or have examples of their poetry....Yes, best to move on to Egeria, I think. 
14:51 MORGANA FLAVIUS: I don't know if we still have time to talk about Gorgo or if we must start with Egeria. I am curious to the parallels traced by Myrrhine between her and Gorgo. (Interesting info on Lykourgos, Myrrhine. I didn't know that he might have been a "collective mythical character".)
14:51 MYRRHINE SOLON: Unfortunately, there's even less to be said about Egeria.  Egeria was a nun who in 385 C.E wrote Itinerarium, the details of her travels through the Holy Land.
14:52 MYRRHINE SOLON: I haven't read all her work, as it appears to be quite hard to come by. I have translated some of it though from the original, so I have a sense of her style.
14:52 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Myrrhine, I must say that you make me really curious about all things Spartan now! *grin*
14:53 MYRRHINE SOLON: What I noticed about her work was of course what caused it. The travels of women are rarely ever attested to it in antiquity, especially a women traveling by herself.
14:53 MYRRHINE SOLON: Morgana, now you'll have to join the Rhetra!
14:54 MYRRHINE SOLON: She was a simple nun, but yet she was able to meet with many of the most influential figures in the church.
14:54 christus Curius enters...
MORGANA FLAVIUS: What was Egeria's nationality? German? (I'm still starting reading Egeria's page)
14:55 TORREY PHILEMON: That is most intriguing. Do we know for sure that she was traveling by herself? And if so, she was safe perhaps because she was a nun.
14:55 MYRRHINE SOLON: Basically, she was writing a memoir of her travels so her sisters would be able to see what she experienced. Her latin is interesting for that reason.
14:56 MORGANA FLAVIUS: (Oh dear, I'm afraid I have reached the limit of groups I am allowed to participate!)
14:56 Lucrecius Flavius enters...
MYRRHINE SOLON: I'm sure she had an entourage, but I find it interesting that she was not joined by fellow sisters. All we know about her is derived from her writings.
14:56 MYRRHINE SOLON: I suppose I find travel an interesting issue. It was extremely dangerous to travel in the ancient world (look what happend to poor Oedipus--sorry poor joke).
14:58 MYRRHINE SOLON: Her writing also describes the fourth century 'tourist industry' if you will.  Egeria and her entourage apparently pay to see certain holy places. The burning bush, for example. Apparently, one can still pay to see this locale today.
14:58 TORREY PHILEMON: What were the biggest dangers of traveling then, Myrrhine?
14:58 JULIA MANACH: I was with her book in my hands just yesterday, in a library... i would not know i would be here reading about her *S*
14:59 MYRRHINE SOLON: The bishop who met her at Edessa claimed,  that she had come "right from the other end of the earth"
15:00 MYRRHINE SOLON: I imagine the greatest danger would be 'highwaymen,' and such. I've read very little on the dangers of traveling. Does anyone else have more input? I've been curious myself as to why there is little traveling done. In Greece, one often did not leave their city-state, but that was due to citizenship laws.
15:01 Torrey Philemon enters...
MYRRHINE SOLON: We also receive a sense of ancient topography as she describes certain areas and regions. For example, I read the excerpt about the group's (guides and such who were monks I believe) ascent to Mt. Sinai. She writes vividly.
15:02 MYRRHINE SOLON: I was also fascinated by her interaction with so many others of different standings--culturally, socially and ecclesiastically.
15:03 MORGANA FLAVIUS: I guess roads were poorly maintained in the Middle Ages too. It is amazing if we compare the enormous amount of travel that the ancient did with that of  medieval times.
15:03 lydia Servilius enters...
MORGANA FLAVIUS: Sorry, Myrrhine, but where did Egeria come from?
15:04 MYRRHINE SOLON: Now for the parallel.  It struck me this morning that Gorgo and Egeria are somewhat similar. We see that their positions in their separate worlds were different than that of their peers. However, since I'm not as familiar with the Medieval period, I can't claim to know much.
15:04 MYRRHINE SOLON: Morgana--It's still disputed. Most believe she was from Gaul.
15:05 MYRRHINE SOLON: However, we must be careful when we cite these. It seems that these women have become the fodder for the rabid feminist. We must be so very careful as we have little context into which we can place these women. This applies more to Gorgo and the women of Sparta than Egeria.
15:07 MYRRHINE SOLON: The Spartan women are used as a literary device, often to conjure images of the enemy for those of Athens (look at Andromache by Euripides). However, while these women were certainly extraordinary, we are unable to make them the rule. They are the exception. Until we know more, we cannot make such claims.
15:08 MYRRHINE SOLON: I have read too many documents where this has been the case and I feel the need to warn others before they make this excursion. I think it's a dangerous precedent to set.
15:08 MYRRHINE SOLON: I see that my time is almost up. Any questions about either Gorgo or Egeria?
15:08 TORREY PHILEMON: (Newcomers: Myrrhine is finishing up Egeria. I'll start Queen Christina of Sweden at 3:15pm)
15:09 MYRRHINE SOLON: Sorry, Torrey. Apparently, my fever got the better of me.
15:10 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Oh Myrrhine, I'm sorry to hear that. I really wish you get better, dear!
15:10 TORREY PHILEMON: You're doing fine, Myrrhine. Just don't want to cut you off abruptly, that's all.
15:10 christus Curius enters...
MYRRHINE SOLON: Thank you for the wishes, Morgana. I unfortunately have a pile of works to translate today.
15:11 MYRRHINE SOLON: I will be online for about another hour if anyone has question which strike them later.
15:12 Tara Ramesses enters...
15:12 Obvius Aelius enters...
TARA RAMESSES: hello... i made it....
15:13 TORREY PHILEMON: One historically ignorant question Myrrhine - didn't invaders from Gaul sake Rome somewhere around this time? Was this before the destruction of Rome? And she was of the people who were invaders....?
15:13 MYRRHINE SOLON: Well, now I'll return the podium to Torrey. Good day, all.
15:14 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Hello Tara and Obvius.
15:14 MYRRHINE SOLON: Oimoi! I'm a Hellenist, Torrey, so you'll have to ask someone with a bit more knowledge.  I don't think she was an invader, though.
15:14 TARA RAMESSES: hi morgana
15:15 MYRRHINE SOLON: She was associated with a religious community in the West and that's all that is said about her.
15:15 TORREY PHILEMON: Well, thankyou for enlightening us about two women most of us knew very little about!
15:16 TARA RAMESSES: hi myrrhine, sorry i had to leave out early on you yesterday, but i did get to your webpage... wonderful
15:17 MYRRHINE SOLON: You're welcome. Perhaps, I'll have time to do it more coherently. Tara--I'm Solon, not Philemon!


15:17 TORREY PHILEMON: Everyone ready for Queen Christina? Web pages at
15:18 MORGANA FLAVIUS: To Queen Cristina then!
15:18 Esme Brigantes enters...
TORREY PHILEMON: I first got interested in Queen Christina when I saw the marvelous Greta Garbo movie, which unfortunately like most historical movies is not historically accurate.
15:19 TORREY PHILEMON: Queen Christina became Queen of Sweden at age five, after her father King Gustavas was killed in the Thirty Years War....although chancellor Oxenstierna ruled until she was 13.
15:19 Myrrhine Solon exits...
TORREY PHILEMON: King Gustavus did not have a son, and made sure that Christina would be highly educated and trained as a boy would be trained as king.
15:19 TORREY PHILEMON: She was able to read and write seven languages by age 15, and learned statesmanship and diplomacy. She was brilliant, and dedicated to learning.
15:20 TORREY PHILEMON:   Christina did however loathe Lutheranism the official religion of Sweden and was privately involved in her own religious quest, and drawn to Catholicism which was against the law.
15:21 TORREY PHILEMON: Although she fell in love with men (and also women), she may have forever remained a virgin. She refused to ever marry and refused to submit to any authority.
15:21 TORREY PHILEMON: She was independent even in dress - she looked quite masculine, and dressed like a man - though basically she didn't care about physical appearance.
15:21 TORREY PHILEMON: She also become enamored with the arts, particularly the Italian arts, and spent much of her life supporting artists of all kinds.
15:22 TORREY PHILEMON: Even before her official coronation Christina decided she would abdicate, and in her early 20s she did, to Charles Gustavas
15:22 TORREY PHILEMON: After proving to be an effective Queen dedicated to peace and helping end the Thirty Years War.
15:23 TORREY PHILEMON: She moved to Rome, and converted to Catholicism. There she was a patron of the arts and supporter of religious freedom
15:23 TORREY PHILEMON: And a source of continuous gossip and scandal because of her unconventional behavior.
15:24 TORREY PHILEMON: I'll talk about the latter part of her life later, but will take questions now about the first part of her life....
15:25 Nimue Cormac enters...
OBVIUS AELIUS: Where did Charles Gustavus pop up from?
15:26 TORREY PHILEMON: Welcome Nimue!
15:26 ESME BRIGANTES: Torrey ... forgive the interruption, but is it anathema for a man to attend this seminar? I have a Swedish friend whom I just told about this and he would like to join us.
15:26 MORGANA FLAVIUS: How do we know that she was in love with Charles Gustavas? Did she write letters about it? Did she have the support of the official catholic church in Rome? (I wrote down those questions while you were talking about Cristina, Torrey)
15:26 OBVIUS AELIUS: And of what faith was he? Lutheran?
15:27 TORREY PHILEMON: Actually, she was in love with Charles Gustavas for two years...we do have her love letters from when she was a teenager. But when he returned from war, she coolled toward him, but supported him becoming king and taking over after she abdicated.
15:28 TORREY PHILEMON: The rulers of Sweden had to be Lutheran at the time....though Calvinism was also big in Sweden. Catholicism was a crime!
15:28 OBVIUS AELIUS: : Well I suppose I ought to visit that page you mentioned earlier. Pardon my ignorance.....
15:28 christus Curius enters...
TORREY PHILEMON: Morgana, she secretly communicated with the church in Rome for years, having them send priests to her to teach her about Catholicism. They were disguised, so no one knew they were priests. This was all very illicit.
15:29 TARA RAMESSES: If catholicism was outlawed in sweden how did she ever get exposed to it?
15:29 TORREY PHILEMON: The Pope really wanted her to convert - what a big deal for the Catholic church to have a ruler of a Protestant nation convert! But she was falsely led to believe that Catholicism was much more openminded philosophically than Protestantism.
15:30 TORREY PHILEMON: Obvius, you're no more ignorant than the rest of us. I only learned all this in the past six weeks myself....Good question, Tara. There were a few priests around, but most of the Catholics were only in Sweden in official capacity, usually as ambassadors from Catholic countries.
15:30 Merkas Gilgamesh enters...
TARA RAMESSES: hi christus
15:31 TARA RAMESSES: and hello to merkas too
15:31 ESME BRIGANTES: Torrey here is my male friend Merkas ... he is from Sweden IRL.
15:31 OBVIOUS AELIUS: Who was the reigning Pope at the time of her eventual convertion?
15:31 MERKAS GILGAMESH: Ok, Hi everybody!!
15:32 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Interesting how she became interested about Catholicism because she read Descartes. Reason leading to religious faith. Apparently, later on she found out that it was not such an open minded religion as she had first thought.
15:32 TORREY PHILEMON: Great! A Swede! Merkas, maybe you can tell us what Swedes think of Christina today....By the way, the movie of Christina focuses on her relationship with Don Antonio Pimentel, who is Catholic and the Spanish ambassador to Sweden. She is fond of him, and uses him to communicate with Rome.....
15:33 TORREY PHILEMON: One of the Alexanders, Obvius, was Pope when she converted. Have to look up which. My chronology pages start at 
15:33 Juliani Siamen enters...
TARA RAMESSES: So the catholic priests who visited also worked on the sly trying to convert the swedish people they came in contact with?
15:35MERKAS GILGAMESH: Well, what i remember from school is that she converted and that was not a nice thing to do back then.
15:35 TARA RAMESSES: hi juliani.... glad you came, torrey is telling us about queen christina of sweden at the moment.
15:36 NIMUE CORMAC: It is in the nature of religious leaders to convert those around them'
15:36 TORREY PHILEMON: Dec 23, 1655 she met Pope Alexander VII...... Tara, I don't think the Catholics in Sweden were trying to convert people on the sly. It was too dangerous, and the Thirty Years war was just ending, which was a religious war. Christina had the power to sneak a few priests into Sweden, and to converse with ambassadors from Catholic countries, but there weren't many Catholics around. And her father had been brutal to Catholics too.
15:36 JULIANI SIAMEN: Hi everyone, I'm her  to observe everything.  Hi Princess Tara. Its nice to see you.
15:36 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Her platonic relationships with several men (mostly clergy) are amazing! I am reading about Cardinal Azzolino and their friendship which lasted for 31 years!
15:37 christus Curius enters...
TORREY PHILEMON: There's a lot of debate by the way about why she abdicated. Catholicism is only one reason. There was also a LOT of pressure for her to marry.
15:38 TARA RAMESSES: So the influence to catholicism on her was more from observation then participation?
15:38 TORREY PHILEMON: Yes, Morgana, it's shades of the Thorn Birds....She was passionately in love with Azzolino...and her love letters to him still survive. There was of course many rumors that she was sleeping with him and other men as well but people who knew her best thought she was a virgin....prone to platonic passions so to speak. She actually said that she didn't want to be "ploughed by a man as a farmer ploughs his field."
15:39 TORREY PHILEMON: Tara, she converted AFTER she abdicated....and then was able to "practice" Catholicism in Italy. But the Pope and others were horrified that she really didn't follow the sacraments and interpreted Catholicism in her own way.
15:40 LYDIA SERVILIUS: Very interesting Torrey!
15:41 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Apparently, the Pope first hosted her in the Palazzo Farnese and then threw her out from her apartments there when he found out how she was "interpreting" catholicism.
15:41 TORREY PHILEMON: By the way, she was also in love with a woman lady in waiting, Ebba Sparre, when she was Queen. Some say she was lesbian, but being devoted to someone of the same sex isn't the same as being lesbian. Basically, Christina fell in love with both men and women (fewer women, as she felt women were inferior) but probably wasn't sexual with any, unless she was with Pimentel, the Spanish ambassador.
15:43 LYDIA SERVILIUS: And besides, I would imagine that the relationship between a lady in waiting and a Queen is very intense to begin with?  What are your views on that Torrey?
15:43 TORREY PHILEMON: Oh she really scandalized Rome! She had men coming to her apartments to talk philosophy at 3am and ran around town dressed in strange male attire and spoke her mind and cursed loudly even in Church! She was scandalous!
15:44 TARA RAMESSES: It sounds like she was struggling with her sexuality...
15:44 TORREY PHILEMON: Actually the reason why the Pope asked her to leave the Vatican was because she was having financial problems and was trying to regain some of the power she had lost, and secretly conspired to take over Naples. In the process of visiting France to start her Naples campaign, she murdered someone  whom she thought was a traitor - and in the King's palace. This offended everybody.
15:45 OBVIUS AELIUS: Are there many surviving portraits of her?
15:45 Juliani Siamen exits...
ESME BRIGANTES: All very interesting, thank you for the invitation, Torrey. I need to leave; adieu, all.
15:45 TORREY PHILEMON: Lydia, personally, I think people are too quick to interpret love and devotion as sex. There is no proof that Christina ever had a sexual relationship of any sort, though some think she did with Pimentel. But she wrote love letters to both men and women....
15:46 TORREY PHILEMON: Yes, Obvius, there are many portraits, and I have most of them on my web pages. I read several out-of-print biographies on her, and scanned pictures from them.  You can see several at (right click to open in new window)
15:47 LYDIA SERVILIUS: I agree with you Torrey!  I think that a maid in waiting must be devoted to her queen and likewise!
15:48 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Why is there some doubt about her platonic relations with Pimentel only?
15:48 OBVIUS AELIUS: Thanks Torrey
15:48 Esme Brigantes exits...
TORREY PHILEMON: According to the biographies, Morgana, some people who knew her best thought that she and Pimentel MIGHT be lovers. But only him.....She had many "favorites" but he was one of the most intense, though never as important to her as Azzolino.
15:50 TARA RAMESSES: obvius, she was not a pretty woman thats for sure....
15:51 TORREY PHILEMON: Frankly, I don't see how she could be so sure she didn't want to be "ploughed" if she had never tried it!  (-:
15:50 TORREY PHILEMON: Another important point about her is that she became enraptured with Italian artists when Sweden plundered Czechoslavakia and took all the paintings there.....that's one reason why she wanted to live in Italy....Then she spent much of her life supporting and promoting artists and actors and musicians. Sponsoring hundreds....
15:51 TARA RAMESSES: so she became devoted more to the arts then religion in the end?
15:52 OBVIUS AELIUS: Well, then I'll hardly expect to be smitten when I look at those pictures at Torrey's!
15:52 NIMUE CORMAC: It was probably more a matter of not wanting to go through pregnancy.
15:52 TORREY PHILEMON: No, Tara, people who knew her said she was quite plain, and dressed very slovenly at times. Though she was quite regal, and occasionally when talking passionately about philosophy or the arts, could look beautiful.
15:53 TORREY PHILEMON: The arts and religion were probably equal passions.....though she gave up on the affairs of the world the last decade and took on a contemplative lifestyle, following the Quietists until they were banned by the Inquisition. She also wrote her spiritual and philosophical Maxims which were published after her death. She was very literate.
15:53 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Apparently, she was the kind of person who wants to know everything in an intellectual or spiritual way rather than experiment with things in a more physical or material way. And that included sex.
15:54 TORREY PHILEMON: Nimue - She DIDN'T want to go through pregnancy, but she also didn't want to share power with anyone. Or give up her freedom to hang out with men of all kinds at all hours of the day and night. She just didn't function with any concern for appearances. 
15:55 LYDIA SERVILIUS: Torrey, what is her birthday?  I would love to have a look at her chart!
15:56 TORREY PHILEMON: I think she also really liked to shock people. Her palace was THE intellectual and cultural center of Rome....she sponsored many salons, concerts, plays, operas, discussions....but everything she did seemed to cause a scandal.
15:56 Nimue Cormac enters...
MORGANA FLAVIUS: An interesting woman, indeed!
15:56 TORREY PHILEMON: Of course she was totally surrounded by men too. There's no mention of women in her life during the last decades. She dressed like a man and surrounded herself with men.
15:56 Nimue Cormac enters...
TORREY PHILEMON: Lydia, check out the Scandinavian Queens thread in the SpeculumEurope group.   Her chart and interpretation are there. (December 8, 1626, Stockholm, Sweden, Sun/Mercury in Sagittarius, t-square to Moon in Leo with Mars/Jupiter in Scorpio opposing Pluto in Taurus)
15:58 LYDIA SERVILIUS: Thanks Torrey!  I shall!  *S*
15:58 TORREY PHILEMON: Did any of you see the Garbo movie? 1933. It's an excellent movie, even if it distorts the facts.
15:58 NIMUE CORMAC: What was the position of women at that time? Sounds like she felt very restricted by what was expected of her
15:59OBVIUS AELIUS: No, I haven't yet.
15:59 LYDIA SERVILIUS: No, but I shall look for it now!  Garbo must have made a GREAT Queen Christina! 
15:59 NIMUE CORMAC: I saw the movie several years ago, but wouldn't recognise her as the same person. The movie mainly capitalizedon the romance angle
16:00 TORREY PHILEMON: In Italy, Nimue, women didn't go out of the house alone or consort with men they weren't related to. And Rome and Vatican city were the most conservative....much moreso than Florence.
16:00 MORGANA FLAVIUS: How distorted was Cristina presented in Garbo's movie, Torrey?
16:00 TARA RAMESSES: well, i am sure she probably wasn't presented quite so masculine by garbo as she was historically....
16:00 TORREY PHILEMON: Yes, the movie made her relationship with Pimentel into a big romance, and even had him die at the end. It seemed to suggest that she abdicated for love too. And of course Garbo was a lot more attractive than Christina ever was.
16:01 NIMUE CORMAC: Actually I thought Garbo did a fair job of portraying her as masculine
16:02 TORREY PHILEMON: I'm reading a book on the film now.....It's Queen Christina by Landy and Villarejo....a lot of attempts were made to get the costumes right, and the politics. So it's not all inaccurate. There's little mention of Catholicism though.
16:02 NIMUE CORMAC: Her mannerisms especially were well done
16:03 TORREY PHILEMON: I think one reason for Christina's abdication was her desire for personal freedom, to live her own life, and the movie does portray this.....
16:03 TARA RAMESSES: i'll check it out next time i'm at my local library.... would like to see hollywoods interpretation of her....
16:03 LYDIA SERVILIUS: Garbo like Hepburn could wear masculine clothes with flair!
16:04 TORREY PHILEMON: Apparently there was a love scene between Christina and Ebba Sparre in the movie and the censors insisted it be taken out, though one kiss remained. And the censors had a fit about a scene in which she's alone in a bedroom with Pimentel...though she's disguised as a man.
16:04 NIMUE CORMAC: Garbo did everything with flair
16:04 TARA RAMESSES: she sounds like a woman who wanted to be looked as a equal with men, not someone subservient to them, which i'm sure was the order of the day in her time.
16:05 TORREY PHILEMON: Garbo WAS great in that film, no doubt about it. This book focuses somewhat on the parallels between her life and Christina's life....the conflict between personal life and public life, ultimately choosing personal life.
16:05 LYDIA SERVILIUS: Sounds like she was a woman before her time, Torrey!  *S*
16:05 NIMUE CORMAC: This was the day of separate beds for married couples
16:05 TORREY PHILEMON: Yes, Tara she was really one of a kind, in her day. And would be today too!
16:05 LYDIA SERVILIUS: Christina that is!
16:05 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Ah! The parallels between fantasy and real life (Garbo and Cristina)!
16:06 TORREY PHILEMON: Well in the film there's a scene of two men sharing a bed in an inn...though one of the men turns to be Christina in disguise. The whole story of her disguising as a man to roam around the countryside is false.....
16:06 NIMUE CORMAC: Was the position of women in Sweden as restricted as those in Rome?
16:06 MORGANA FLAVIUS: I wonder how Pimentel felt regarding Cristina. Being a Spanish and military! They were so "chauvinists"!
16:07 TORREY PHILEMON: Any other questions before we switch to Tara? It's really been fun talking about Christinar and responding to your questions. She's just fascinating.
16:08 LYDIA SERVILIUS: Thanks for sharing with us Torrey!  She is fascinating! 
16:08 NIMUE CORMAC: Great job, Torry
16:08 TORREY PHILEMON: Nimue, good question about women in Sweden, and I don't think I can answer that. When Christina was there, she was restricted more by her position as queen than by any gender issues.....I suspect though that women in Sweden WEREN'T as restricted as those in Rome. Life there was very spartan though, partly due to the climate.
16:08 OBVIUS AELIUS: Thanks,Torrey! I've enjoyed the story of Cristina!
16:08 TARA RAMESSES: thanks torrey, great info
16:08 Nimue Cormac enters...
MORGANA FLAVIUS: And your page about Cristina is wonderful and as fascinating as the queen, Torrey! Relly well done and easy to follow through.
16:10 TARA RAMESSES: should i start georgia o'keeffe now, torrey?
16:10 TORREY PHILEMON: One thing I recommend, by the way, is really taking time to read  biographies about the women you study. I feel like I got INSIDE the life of Christina, and am glad I studied her in such depth. She feels like a real person to me now........Yes, Tara, why don' t you start in one minute.
16:11 TARA RAMESSES: ok, all ready.



About Our Celebration:
The original idea for a Celebration of Women at Ancient Sites was first expressed several months ago by Claudilla Caecilius, who was inspired by a suggestion from Belay Fabius. At the time, Claudilla posted this poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou to celebrate Women's History month, and to awaken interest in our creating this Celebration of Women.

The women of Ancient Sites  are not only celebrating notable women of antiquity and the recent past this weekend; they are also celebrating themselves, and their relationships to each other - as learners, teachers, friends, helpers, chat participants, and creators here of our marvelous educational Ancient Sites community.