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.