Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies
Department of Classical Studies
Modern Languages, room 224
University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario Canada
Phone: 519-888-4567 ext. 32377
Over the past two decades, the study of royal women has been one of the most dynamic fields of inquiry into the Hellenistic world (ca. 336/323–30 BC), and one that has dramatically shifted our perceptions of gender, status, influence, and ability within the broader ancient world. While royal women were once dismissed as powerless pawns in a political game that was an exclusively masculine domain, it has become apparent that we cannot evaluate female power and roles exclusively by male criteria. Perhaps more so in the Hellenistic age than in any other period of ancient history, a profound appreciation of female prominence and influence as well as an understanding of a very distinct sort of agency has begun to emerge. However, compared to their contemporaries in Macedon and Egypt, Seleucid queens and princesses have hardly begun to fall under the gaze of scholarly scrutiny. As Greco-Macedonian women, they were born into the family at the head of an empire that spanned dozens of cultures, languages, and traditions encompassing territory that spanned from western Asia Minor to the Indus River. Imbued with an ideological prominence, they became scions of their family’s legitimacy and prestige. But how they impacted the cultures into which they married, and were themselves impacted by them, requires far more scholarly attention. Likewise lacking is a systematic scrutiny of the representation of female Seleucids in visual and textual media, both of which are necessary to decode the process of shaping, perpetuating, and modifying expectations attached to gender and social status. The Seleucid Study Group will be in a privileged position to address this problem in a collaborative and interdisciplinary way, not least because one of its core objectives is to avoid Eurocentric perspectives by bringing back the many languages, cultures, and traditions of one of the largest empires of the ancient world into the picture. A strong commitment to diversity of topics and methods will further be reflected in the differing career stages and nationalities of the study group members: these range from outstanding undergraduates to internationally established professors, hailing from more than ten countries from North America and Europe. It is to be expected that such a pluralistic and comprehensive workshop will yield highly stimulating scholarship and set the agenda for further research.