Associated projects

Associated projects

This section collects research projects associated with Honour in Classical Greece.

2019-20: Slavery and Honour in the Ancient Greek World

In association with the ERC-funded ‘Honour in Classical Greece’ project, Slavery and Honour in the Ancient Greek World, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, is a year-long project exploring the intersection between these two fundamental aspects of ancient Greek society.

Slaves made up around a third of the population of fourth-century Attica, and constituted a significant proportion of the populations of other Greek communities. Yet they are often neglected in studies of Greek honour, in no small part because of the focus of our sources on citizen men, but also because of the tendency in normative sources, most notably Aristotle’s discussion of the natural slave in Politics book I, to exclude slaves from a share in timê.

Yet a closer look at the full range of evidence throws up a rather more complicated picture than this ostensibly straightforward image of ‘social death.’ Other texts fully recognise slaves’ humanity and philotimia, enlisting it into the strategies of coercion practised by the slave-owning classes. Honour as bestowed by masters on slaves was contextual, and could be viable in some contexts (e.g. the oikos) and not in others (e.g. the polis). The nature of social relations with slaves was made more complex in cases of public and sacred slavery, and in cases of co-ownership and sub-ownership. Furthermore, the slave community itself was perfectly capable of evaluating the actions of its members and according differing degrees of respect and recognition. Honour as something worth striving for and something to be bestowed cross-cuts status boundaries and was operative in a wide variety of social and institutional contexts. It is this kaleidoscopic picture that our project seeks to explore, through two public lectures, one conference, and one workshop.

Public lecture 1, 10th May 2019: Dr David Doddington (Cardiff University)

‘The best man whipped and the other one took it': violence, honour, and solidarity in US slave communities

Historians commonly stress the solidarity of enslaved people and how codes of honour helped them collectively to resist the worst elements of enslavement. However, examining the causes of violence within the quarters, the significance accorded to public and performative displays of power, and lingering and long-lasting concerns over personal reputation and honour, underscores the divisions and stratification that could also mark life in slave communities.

Watch the recording here.


Conference, 11th-12th June 2019

Slavery and Honour in the Ancient Greek World

G.159 MacLaren Stuart Room

Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL

Tuesday 11/06

Session 1. Chair: Nick Fisher (Cardiff)

  • 9:00-9:45 David Lewis & Mirko Canevaro (Edinburgh): Slavery and Honour in Ancient Greece: Past Approaches and Future Directions
  • 9:45-10:45 Douglas Cairns (Edinburgh): Honour and the Rhetoric of Slavery in Herodotus
    • Tea and Coffee 10:45-11:15
  • 11:15-12:15 Kostas Vlassopoulos (Crete): The Multiple Honours of Enslaved People in Antiquity
  • 12:15-1:15 Paulin Ismard (Paris 1): Honouring Slaves in a ‘Timocratic Society’: About the Changing Borders of the Community
    • Lunch 1:15-2:30

Session 2. Chair: Benedikt Eckhardt (Edinburgh)

  • 2:30-3:30 Bianca Mazzinghi Gori (Edinburgh): A share in τιμή: Respect and οἰκειότης Between Masters and Slaves in Menander
  • 3:30-4:30 Mirko Canevaro (Edinburgh): Recognition, Imbalance of Power and Agency: Honour Relations and Slaves’ Claims vis-à-vis Their Masters
    • Tea and Coffee 4:30-4:45
  • 4:45-5:45 Nick Fisher (Cardiff): Whose Honour, whose Shame? Hybris, Slavery and the Athenian Law once more

Wednesday 12/06

Session 3. Chair: Stephen Hodkinson (Nottingham)

  • 10:00-11:00 Deborah Kamen (Washington): ‘Privileged’ Slaves and Honour in Classical Athens
    • Tea & Coffee 11.00-11:15
  • 11:15-12:15 Jason Porter (Nottingham): The Privilege that Costs Nothing? Occupations, Hierarchies and Honouring Slaves in Ancient Greece
  • 12:15-1:15 Gabriel Cabral (São Paulo): Helot Dishonour and Spartan Identity
    • Lunch 1:15-2:30

Session 4. Chair: Ulrike Roth (Edinburgh)

  • 2:30-3:30 Sara Zanovello (Edinburgh Law Society): Sanctuary Slaves and their Social Relations
  • 3:30-4:30 Ambra Ghiringhelli (Edinburgh): Chosen by the Gods: Slave Leaders and Religious Authority
    • Tea and Coffee 4:30-4:45
  • 4:45-5:45 David Lewis (Edinburgh): Greek Slavery and Honour: Institutional and Prototypical Approaches
  • 5:45-6:00 Douglas Cairns (Edinburgh): closing remarks
    • Dinner, 6:45


Further announcements will follow in due course regarding the workshop and second public lecture.

For all enquiries, please contact David Lewis (


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