Women's Clothing


Women's clothing had motifs shaped similarly to those on men's garments. As for children's and men's clothing, the choice of ornament type and subject matter could express various messages about the person wearing the garment.

These detached ornaments reflect drastically different self-presentations. Although both decorations may have been worn by women with pretensions to spell-binding beauty, the written sources about Leda suggest beauty that ultimately acquiesces to male fascination while, in contrast, late antique texts about Amazons, especially the Amazon queen Penthesilea who was killed in battle by Achilles, suggest adamant unavailability.


Compare, for example, this late antique textile representing Leda to the poem about Leda that is quoted below..

This is the Laconian river Eurotas,

and that is Leda with nothing on,

and he who is hidden in the swan is Zeus.

And you little Cupids,

who are luring me so little disposed to love,

what bird am I to become?

If Zeus is a swan, I suppose I must be a goose.

Antiphilus of Byzantium, 1st c.CE

And, compare this late antique textile representing the slaying of an Amazon to the poem about Penthesilea quoted below.

Though she lay fallen in dirt and gore,

beneath her lovely eyebrows shown her beautiful face, even in death. ...

Many men prayed that when they came home

they would sleep in the bed of a wife like her.

Achilles suffered greatly in his heart,

that he slew her

and did not bring her to Phthia as his shining wife,

since in height and beauty she was blameless

and like the immortal gods.

Quintus Smyrnaeus, 4th c. CE


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