This episode of Classics Confidential is linked to Weaving Women’s Stories – a series of events organised by Dr Emma Bridges and Dr Ellie Mackin Roberts, as part of the 2018 Being Human Festival.

It features, in order of appearance:

Emma Bridges (Institute of Classical Studies) on Homer, Penelope, Ovid and reception

Ursula Rothe (The Open University) on different kinds of fabrics and archaeological evidence for textile production

Mary Harlow (University of Leicester) on looms, fabric production as metaphor, and the importance of textile production as a theme in ancient history

Ellie Mackin Roberts (Royal Holloway, University of London) on the arrephorroi and sensual approaches to ancient weaving

Ben Ferris (Sydney Film School) on his 2009 feature film, Penelope

Anna Fisk (University of Glasgow) on her work as a knitting practitioner and academic researcher in contemporary craft practices and implicit religion.


You can find details of the live events on the Institute of Classical Studies website, but even if you can’t attend, do keep an eye on the Twitter hashtag #WeavingWomensStories, where Emma (@emmabridges) and Ellie (@EllieMackin) will be sharing photos and links from the events as they happen.

Some further resources are listed below the audio links:


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Open Access Resources


Further bibliography on weaving (work in progress!)

Fisk, Anna (2012) ‘To make, and make again’: feminism, craft and spirituality’, Feminist Theology, 20(2), pp. 160-174.

Harlow, Mary and Nosch, Marie-Louise (eds) (2014), Greek and Roman Textiles and Dress. An Interdisciplinary Anthology. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Heath, John (2011), ‘Women’s work: female transmission of mythical narrative’, Transactions of the American Philological Association 141, pp. 69-104.

Heilbrun, Carolyn G. (1991), ‘What was Penelope unweaving?’, in Heilbrun, Hamlet’s Mother and Other Women: Feminist Essays on Literature. London: The Women’s Press, pp. 103-11.

Ohrman, Magdalena (2014) ‘From Calathos to Carmen: Metapoetics in the Story of the Daughters of Minyas (Ovid Metamorphoses 4)’, in Spinning Fates and the Song of the Loom: The Use of Textiles, Clothing and Cloth Production as Metaphor, Symbol and Narrative Device in Greek and Latin Literature. Oxbow, Oxford.

Pantelia, Maria (1993), ‘Spinning and weaving: ideas of domestic order in Homer’, American Journal of Philology 114, pp. 493-501.


Penelope and the Suitors, by John William Waterhouse (1912). Image from Wikimedia Commons.