Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece: Representations and Realities

Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece: Representations and Realities

Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece: Representations and Realities

Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece: Representations and Realities

Synopsis

This highly original and authoritative account of the Greek family supersedes the only existing study in English by W. K. Lacey (published in 1968) and provides the first comprehensive survey of the subject. Taking account of a mass of literary, inscriptional, archaeological, anthropological, and art-historical evidence, some of which has only been made recently available, Sarah Pomeroy provides an excellent reference for one of the key aspects of Greek social history.

Excerpt

The family in classical and Hellenistic Greece had a far greater range of functions and manifestations than it has in the modern Western world. Consequently, the definition of the Greek family is not only broad, but protean, including in some cases people who are not related to one another by blood, marriage, or adoption, or sometimes even people who never shared a household. Because the greatest range of definitions, the most clearly articulated historical development, and the most numerous and varied primary sources appear in Athens, the Athenian family will serve as the paradigm in the first part of the following discussion. The Spartan family will then be described as 'the exception that proves the rule'. Very little is known about the family lives of Greeks of the classical period who lived in city-states other than Athens or Sparta.

This chapter is designed, in particular, to orient the reader who is unfamiliar with the basic ideas of Greek family history. It is a highly selective survey, and not intended to delve into controversial issues or to cover such topics as marriage, kinship, Greek law, or the Spartan constitution in an encyclopaedic manner. Although the focus of the present book is on the classical (c.500-323 BC) and Hellenistic (323- 30 BC) periods, the first chapter includes family legislation of the archaic period (c.800-500 BC).

ATHENS

Public and Private

When used in reference to classical Athens, the words 'public' and 'private' are problematic, and do not correspond exactly to the modern conceptions of these terms. The definitions of these words are further complicated by the fact that in antiquity the state intervened in matters which many modern readers would regard as . . .

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