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Summary

What is power and who is allowed to wield it? Why is female power so rare and, often, so feared? What can the women who gained power in the ancient world teach us about the contemporary world and our modern ideas of gender, authority, and equality?

Listeners will explore these and other questions as you travel back to the ancient world and uncover the stories of remarkable women who overcame a host of barriers to wield power in a male-dominated world. From Egypt and Mesopotamia to China and Rome, you will meet women who worked strategically to gain unprecedented influence and you will see how their stories echo through the centuries, offering surprising relevance to our understanding of gender and sexual dynamics today. 

In Powerful Women of the Ancient World, Professor Kara Cooney will share the stories of women who rose to power through ambition; intelligence; skill; and sheer determination. First, you will take a look at what power actually is - how it is defined, how different kinds of power operate, and why women and men are often viewed differently when power is involved. Then, meet the women of the ancient world who challenged the status quo by grasping for and holding authority. Some names listeners will likely already recognize through their “cautionary tales”, such as Cleopatra and Jezebel. Others, though less well-known, will show you the different ways it is possible to be powerful. You will meet rulers like Empress Lü of China and Hatshepsut of Egypt, rebel leaders such as Boudica of Britain, religious leaders like the Hebrew prophetess Deborah, and more. 

As listeners will learn, times may have changed since antiquity, but the past has a long reach - and in many ways, our cultural ideas about women and power are surprisingly slow to change.

©2020 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

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Profile Image for Red-Haired Ash
  • Red-Haired Ash
  • 02-05-20

Informative

This audiobook is broken down into twelve lectures that discuss women in power in the ancient world, what power is, the different types of power there are and people in power are viewed and remembered differently because of their sex. Kara Cooney does an amazing job at breaking down the history of women in power and the different types of power they wielded. Here are some of the women discussed in these lectures: Merneith (Egypt), Puabi (Sumerian), Hatshepsut (Egypt), Deborah (Isreal), Jezebel (Isreal), Athaliah (Isreal), Aspasia (Athens), Artemisia (Greek), Hypatia (Egypt/Roman), Empress Lu (China), and Cleopatra (Egypt). A few of these ancient Egyptian women are mentioned and discussed in more detail in Cooney’s previous books, The Woman Who Would Be King, and When Women Ruled the World. The lectures focus on how these women wielded their power and for what reason. The majority seemed to be centered around family. They rose to power as regents over their sons and controlled their worlds through them. These women frequently met an untimely end and it is unclear how much of their legacy is the truth because of the slander made against them. I found it all to be fascinating and very informative, especially since quite a few of these women I had never heard of. One of the facts that surprised me was that in ancient Greece true love was viewed to only be between a man and a man, never a woman and a man. This was fascinating because while I knew male/male coupling was a part of Greek culture I didn’t realize it was so widespread and actually expected. Overall, this was a fascinating audiobook. I loved learning about all these different women and their rises to power. I do recommend you check out Cooney’s other books as well, especially if you like learning about Egypt. They go into greater detail about these women, especially Hatshepsut.

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  • FMW
  • 26-06-20

Very Good Lecture

Loved the lecture. Professor Cooney covers more than one culture of the ancient world and keeps her lecture engaging.

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Profile Image for LORD GOD Jaime Lopez Ortega
  • LORD GOD Jaime Lopez Ortega
  • 17-05-20

excellent reader

she reads very well. very easy to follow.. I love her style. writing style is also excellent.