May 11, 2021

#13: Natalie Haynes on Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths

An evening with bestselling author, broadcaster, classicist & comedian Natalie Haynes, discussing her latest book, Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths.

This episode was created from the recording of an event with Libraries Connected and Bristol Libraries on 20th November 2020.

Transcript coming soon.

 

More background :

Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths

The Greek myths are among the world's most important cultural building blocks and they have been retold many times, but rarely do they focus on the remarkable women at the heart of these ancient stories.

Stories of gods and monsters are the mainstay of epic poetry and Greek tragedy, from Homer to Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, from the Trojan War to Jason and the Argonauts. And still, today, a wealth of novels, plays and films draw their inspiration from stories first told almost three thousand years ago. But modern tellers of Greek myth have usually been men, and have routinely shown little interest in telling women’s stories. And when they do, those women are often painted as monstrous, vengeful or just plain evil. But Pandora – the first woman, who according to legend unloosed chaos upon the world – was not a villain, and even Medea and Phaedra have more nuanced stories than generations of retellings might indicate.

Now, in Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths, Natalie Haynes – broadcaster, writer and passionate classicist – redresses this imbalance. Taking Pandora and her jar (the box came later) as the starting point, she puts the women of the Greek myths on equal footing with the menfolk. After millennia of stories telling of gods and men, be they Zeus or Agamemnon, Paris or Odysseus, Oedipus or Jason, the voices that sing from these pages are those of Hera, Athena and Artemis, and of Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Eurydice and Penelope.

'Funny, sharp explications of what these sometimes not-very-nice women were up to, and how they sometimes made idiots of . . . but read on!' – Margaret Atwood

About the Author

Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster. She is the author of five books including A Thousand Ships, which was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020, The Children of Jocasta and The Amber Fury, as well as a non-fiction book about Ancient History, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life.

She has written and presented two series of the BBC Radio 4 show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics. In 2015, she was awarded the Classical Association Prize for her work in bringing Classics to a wider audience.

A Thousand Ships: Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020

One of the Guardian's and TLS's 'Best Books of 2019'

In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective, for fans of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker.

This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of them all . . .

In the middle of the night, a woman wakes to find her beloved city engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over. Troy has fallen.

From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women embroiled in the legendary war.

Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, in A Thousand Ships Natalie Haynes puts the women, girls and goddesses at the centre of the story.

'With her trademark passion, wit, and fierce feminism, Natalie Haynes gives much-needed voice to the silenced women of the Trojan War' – Madeline Miller, author of Circe

'A gripping feminist masterpiece' Deborah Frances-White, The Guilty Feminist

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