What They Wore On Last Night’s Red Carpet, 458 BCE

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Eirene’s one-of-a-kind tunic looked almost exactly like this stock drawing.

From: Eumelia of Thrace, Red Carpet Reporter

To: Town Criers of Greece

Eirene of Crete Steals Spotlight with Stunning Tunic

ATHENS–Last night’s annual Golden Gods Awards may have been the main attraction, but as usual, the actors’ fashion choices stole the show. Many spectators came all the way to Athens, traveling by donkey for thousands of hectares, just to watch their favorite actors and actresses strut their stuff on the only red carpet in existence.

A show-stopper last night was Kallisto of Naxos, up for a Golden God for her role in Aeschylus’s critically acclaimed Oresteia trilogy. Kallisto wore a white wool tunic pinned at the shoulders, a style that we’re sure to be seeing on the streets of Athens next week.

There’s no doubt that the stand-out among the men was Myron of Pella, who won big as Best Actor in a Tragedy or Really Dramatic Speech for his portrayal of Proteus in the eponymous play. Myron went with a traditional but classic look in his white wool tunic tied at the waist.

But there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Eirene of Crete, who is rapidly gaining a reputation for pushing the boundaries of Athens fashion, earned that reputation with her white wool tunic that was kind of swoopy and unique-looking.

What an incredible night!

Analysis:

Ancient Greek writings suggest that Athenians were nearly as celebrity-obsessed as our own modern culture. This letter, which from the actors and nominations mentioned dates to the 14th annual Golden Gods, is simply more proof. At his peak, the dramatist Sophocles was unable to eat lunch without hundreds of paparazzi trying to carve his picture into a stone tablet or sculpt his likeness on a frieze. The weekly town crier report “άνθρωποι” (“People”) was at its height read by nearly 80% of the literate population of Athens (roughly 2% of the total population).

This obsession with glamor was abhorred by the rival Spartans. Plato recorded a sample their attitude in about 370 B.C.E:

The Spartan warrior known as Anaximedes saw the play Medea, with the popular Hector of Corinth, who would win the Golden God that year for Best Actor in a Scene of Unending Despair. Upon learning of the award, Hector spit on the ground, shouting, “This soft-skinned, unheroic coward is just terrible, and his ongoing popularity with the fops of Athens is mystifying to me. Especially when one considers his terrible Spartan accent. I mean, has he ever even heard a Spartan speak before?” The award, and with it the snubbing of a very powerful performance by Thespis as Agamemnon, would soon lead to another pan-Hellenic war.

Scandal was also no stranger to the celebrities of ancient Athens. An actor named Loanimos was so outrageous in his antics (which included lifting up his tunic and waving his genitals at the council, eating a live fish in a classroom, and drunkenly spearing a bull, which then gored the actor’s buttocks), that even the normally dour Aristotle called his behavior “…exceptional, the true Platonic ideal of celebrity-in-society.”

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