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Dangerous Gifts: Gender and Exchange in Ancient Greece

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Abstract

Inspired by anthropological writing on reciprocity and kinship, this book applies the idea of gendered wealth to ancient Greek myth for the first time, and also highlights the importance of the sister-brother bond in the Classical world. Copyright
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This essay seeks to offer an original interpretation of gift-economy rules in search for an alternative financial regulation. It aims at determining whether gift-economics can provide a relevant analytic direction for an institutional framework in order to design a consistent financial regulation to strengthen systemic stability in market-based capitalist economies. Gift-economics is usually considered in opposition to the economics of market-based capitalist societies since it would rest on holistic dynamics with social and inalienable characteristics while the capitalist economy would develop through individualistic rationality of the homo-oeconomicus seeking personal and alienable (exclusive) wealth accumulation. However, one could consider gift-exchange as a source of the formation of social capital that might not only improve social cohesion but also strengthen individuals’ commitments in market exchange relations following the tradition of Mauss and Sahlins. Gift-economy rules are mostly related to reciprocal engagements and can be regarded as some social and cognitive factors able to have corrective effects on the recurrent financial instabilities of capitalist economies. This essay aims at contributing to such a new perspective developing on the destabilizing features of a financially liberalized and self-regulation-based economy. It argues that reciprocity-including regulation can be regarded as a holistic mechanism enlarging the scope of collective action in markets, going beyond the usual opposition between constraint-imposing public regulator and social-restriction-avoiding opportunistic private interests. It then suggests a reciprocity rule-based premise that could contribute to an institutional framework apt to provide a consistent financial regulation for a sustainable financial system.
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While mainstream economics literature, with particular reference to neoclassical economics and formalist anthropology, discusses dowry as a groom-price, this ahistorical approach fails to account for the evolution of the pre-capitalist dowry systems in modern capitalism (Arunachalam and Trevon, 2016; Banerjee, 1999; Becker, 1981; Tambiah, 1973). In this regard, dowry in South Asia bears its own peculiarities that seem to challenge this literature for at least two reasons. First of all, dowry gifts in South Asia are in principle non-reciprocal, and this raises the question of why they are given when there is no expectation of return. However, some reciprocal reasons for the practice are discussed in the chapter. For instance, that: “dowry is seen as a way of compensating the groom and his family for the economic support they would provide to the new wife”. Second, while dowry gifts have become economically irrelevant around the world, prospective South Asian grooms have continued to demand increasingly larger dowries. Such puzzles lead Khanal and Sen to search for alternative theoretical lenses, needed to provide a more accurate explanation of this phenomenon. They apply a substantivist method that combines economic history (Oldenburg, 2003; Sheel, 1999) and culture and anthropology (Prasad, 1999; Rankin, 2004; Srinivasan and Lee, 2004; Tenhunen, 2008) – based on Mauss (1990[1925]); Polanyi (1957[1944]) to explain the motives for dowry giving and the interactions between dowry and market systems in South Asia. By looking at the economy as embedded within a social, cultural and historical context, they investigate and explain the continued prevalence of dowry in South Asia despite non-explicit reciprocity and market incursions.
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Contemporary television programmes offer new insights into classic tragedies, specifically the role and experience of the sacrificial fantasy heroine. In this chapter we argue that the characters Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003) and Shireen Baratheon in Game of Thrones are marked as ‘classical’ because they echo earlier sacrifices made by female characters in Greek tragedy and myth, specifically Iphigenia and Alcestis in Euripides’ plays. We examine Buffy and Alcestis in relation to the gift of life, and Shireen and Iphigenia in relation to the gift of war. Through this analysis we demonstrate the striking parallels Buffy and Shireen share with classical sacrifices made by tragic heroines and reveal insights into the classical texts, their indirect receptions, and the representation of women.
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Men and women were two separate species for the ancient Greeks. In Hesiod's cosmogonic poem, the Theogony, the origin of mankind remains untold, creating the impression that men were simply there from the beginning. Women's close association with the interior realm of the oikos is taken for granted in tragedy, yet their actions still have political consequences. This chapter discusses some of the key responses to gender in tragedy scholarship of recent decades. It describes a few plays in greater detail and contextualizes their representations of sexual identities, and their unexpectedly modern tendency to theorize gender as a performative category. Aristotle's poetics maintains that for each class of persons e.g., slaves, women, and men, there is a different kind of excellence. Greek tragedies were originally performed annually at the state-sanctioned festival of the Great Dionysia in Athens.
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This dissertation is on the Carmina Priapea (CP). The CP is a collection of 80 Latin epigrams that are about, in dedication to, or in the voice of the Roman god Priapus. The CP is obscene in content, notionally inferior in form and style, and curiously anonymous. The earliest scholarship was concerned with assigning a provenance to the book, but more recent scholars have turned to literary interpretation, paying increased attention to the CP’s formal elements. I aim to fill what I see as a gap in the scholarship by offering a careful study of the CP’s poetics. Although I do not think either the date of this text or the identity of its author can ever be determined with certainty, I endorse the growing scholarly consensus that the CP was written and organized by a single hand at the end of the 1st century CE. I argue that the CP is informed by a poetic discourse that is both sophisticated and ironic. The poet of the CP is cognizant of the Neoteric and Callimachean aesthetic principles practiced by his literary predecessors and contemporaries, but he adopts these principles by adapting them into a Priapic context, which is often tinged with irony. This dissertation consists of an introduction on the unity of the poetry book and three chapters on elements I see at play in the book: repetition, materiality, and liminality. In each chapter I focus on different aspects of Priapic poetry (repetitive language, the image of Priapus, and the idea of a confined garden) as a basis from which to move outward to the poet’s thematization of these elements in the book. The poems in the CP take advantage of familiar themes by subverting readers’ expectations. My work concludes that the CP is not so much “good” poetry in spite of its obscenity, but that its power and appeal come from the complexity of certain poems in which it is left to the reader to decide what is aesthetically good or bad. This is poetry that forcefully defies its status as “literature,” while demonstrating that it does indeed deserve that status.
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Ctenophores are a clade of animals that branch off at the base of the animal tree. They have a unique and delicate body plan, and distinct pattern forming mechanisms at different life history stages. They have a stereotyped embryonic cell lineage and are highly 'mosaic' as embryos, but most have amazing capacity to regenerate as adults. Unfortunately, only a handful of ctenophore species have been studied in detail. This review summarizes the key features of the regenerative properties of adults, and the characteristics of the embryological onset of regenerative abilities. The genomes of several ctenophore species have already been sequenced, and these resources set the stage for more detailed cellular and molecular analysis of body plan patterning in this group.
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Though Greece is traditionally seen as an agrarian society, cattle were essential to Greek communal life, through religious sacrifice and dietary consumption. Cattle were also pivotal in mythology: gods and heroes stole cattle, expected sacrifices of cattle, and punished those who failed to provide them.The Cattle of the Sunranges over a wealth of sources, both textual and archaeological, to explore why these animals mattered to the Greeks, how they came to be a key element in Greek thought and behavior, and how the Greeks exploited the symbolic value of cattle as a way of structuring social and economic relations.Jeremy McInerney explains that cattle's importance began with domestication and pastoralism: cattle were nurtured, bred, killed, and eaten. Practically useful and symbolically potent, cattle became social capital to be exchanged, offered to the gods, or consumed collectively. This circulation of cattle wealth structured Greek society, since dedication to the gods, sacrifice, and feasting constituted the most basic institutions of Greek life. McInerney shows that cattle contributed to the growth of sanctuaries in the Greek city-states, as well as changes in the economic practices of the Greeks, from the Iron Age through the classical period, as a monetized, market economy developed from an earlier economy of barter and exchange.Combining a broad theoretical approach with a careful reading of sources,The Cattle of the Sunillustrates the significant position that cattle held in the culture and experiences of the Greeks.
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A common trope in ancient Greek literature is that craftsmen and traders were socially marginalized: That they were not allowed to participate in the political or social life of the city as fully as those who depended on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood. At Thebes, according to Aristotle, there was a law that no one who had not kept away from the agora for the last ten years might be admitted to of office (Politics 1277b; compare 1328b-1329b). Euripides' mother was slandered for being a vegetable seller, and there are innumerable other examples of the low status of industrial workers. Granted, this view is primarily espoused by the land-owning aristocracy, Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle and other such writers, whose opinions form the bulk of surviving ancient Greek literature. But it has informed our understanding of Greek society to an extent perhaps not generally appreciated. Archaeologists have looked for industrial areas in Greek cities at the outskirts of the city, for instance, in the "potters' quarters"- expecting craftsmen to be geographically as well as socially marginalized; or in the densely occupied "industrial districts" of cities such as Athens (compare Tsakirgis, Chap. 5). Copyright
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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The first half of Aiskhylos' "Agamemnon" presents three crimes of the House of Atreus: the sacrifice of Iphigeneia (184-247), the wasting of young Argive lives at Ilion (355-487) and the treading of the materials as the victorious king reenters his palace (810-974). We argue that the sequential presentation of the crimes of the House, which are connected thematically, stylistically, and causally, radically redefines the nature of transgression within contemporary models of the polis community. Crime as defined in relationship to oikos alone is displaced by crime as defined in relationship to both oikos and the broader polis community; transgression moves from an aristocratic (oikos alone) to an isonomic (oikos within polis) context. This redefinition culminates in the "Carpet-Scene." We reread Agamemnon's nostos as a contest of epinikia. The king represents himself as victorious idiôtês, and Klutaimestra strives to figure him as returning tyrant. She succeeds in the stichomythia, where Agamemnon fails to recognize the crucial distinction between φθόνος and ζῆλος. Aristotle differentiates the terms at Rhet. 1387-88, where φθόνος is envy toward a social superior and ζῆλος the emotion one experiences in rivalry between equals; we document the development of the terms from the archaic period onwards, demonstrate that Aristotle's distinction is valid for the late archaic and classical periods, and suggest that it arose in an attempt to outline relationships of appropriate and inappropriate competition among fellow-citizens. Agamemnon's failure to recognize this important distinction betrays his misunderstanding of the dynamics of, and his agreement to walk on the materials is an offense against, isonomic community. The rearticulation of the nature of transgression completed by this crime of Agamemnon against the polis does fundamental ideological work for the rest of the Oresteia, offering an aetiology of the claims of the polis against the aristocratic oikos.
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Rappelant les problemes de traduction et d'interpretation de la position ou du statut des femmes a partir des concepts anthropologiques classiques, l'A. propose une approche emic comparative du role et statut des femmes a travers les pratiques matrimoniales en Afrique subsaharienne et en Inde du nord, et reevalue la these developpee dans son ouvrage en collaboration avec J. Goody " Bridewealth and Dowry " (Cambridge University Press, 1973)| commentaires, critiques et reponse de l'A.
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In Aeschylus' "Supplices" the Danaids flee their cousins and take refuge at Argos. Scholars have noted similarities between the Argos of the play and contemporary Athens. Yet one such correspondence has generally been overlooked: the Danaids are awarded sanctuary in terms reflecting mid fifth-century Athenian μετοιϰία, a process providing for the partial incorporation of non-citizens into polis life. Danaus and his daughters are of Argive ancestry and take up residence within the city, yet do not become citizens. Instead, they receive the right μετοιϰεῖν τῆσδε γῆς (609). As metics they retain control of their person and property, and are not liable to seizure by another. They are not permitted to own immovable property (ἔγϰτησις), but receive rent-free lodgings. Pelasgus and the other Argive citizens serve as their citizen representative (προστάτης). Casting the Danaids as metics highlights the similarities between Pelasgus and his predecessor, Apis. Both leaders were confronted by violent strangers demanding to live among the Argives, and sought to protect the autochthony and territory of Argos. Yet as suppliants the Danaids (unlike the snakes) cannot be forcibly expelled. Pelasgus' solution is a grant of μετοιϰία approved by the Argive assembly. The emergence of μετοιϰία as a formal status at Athens is difficult to date. Most scholars place it between the reforms of Cleisthenes (508/7) and Pericles' citizenship law (451/0). The "Supplices" provides evidence for a date in the 460s, and functions as a charter myth legitimizing μετοιϰία, much the way the Eumenides does for the Areopagus. The "Supplices" also fits well within the context of immigration and urban development leading to Pericles' law. The fact that the Danaid trilogy won first prize may be due to the Athenians' empathy for Argos as a risk-taking polis committed both to defending its identity and to acknowledging divinely sanctioned claims to refuge.
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One of the features of the Homeric poems which has often excited comment is the marriage system, both in its apparent difference from that prevailing in classical Athens and for its own inconsistencies as they appear on the surface. Dr M. I. Finley in a paper to which my debt will be evident throughout this discussion, despite my disagreement with some of his arguments, has shown that the old theories of ‘Bride-Purchase’ will not really hold water, and that at a Homeric marriage the bride was part of an exchange of gifts or services between the prospective bride-groom and the bride's father, and that these gifts were called ἕδνα . What this paper attempts to do is to suggest that (1) there were in fact two different patterns of marriage in Homeric, as in classical times; (2) that ἕδνα belonged essentially to only one of these patterns; (3) that ἕδνα were not δῶρα, although they had many of the facets of gifts, most particularly in that they expressed the giver's quality, and this in turn carried the assumption that to be outdone in ἕδνα , as in gifts, would incur a slur on a man's rank and quality as an ἀγαθός , and this would lead to criticism and ἐλεγχείη ; and (4) (in a second part) that, if the analysis of ἕδνα attempted in the first part of this paper is acceptable, the apparent confusions and contradictions in the arrangements proposed for Penelope's second marriage disappear.
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Formally accepted types of incestual union present one of the most problematic and yet potentially revealing fields in the study of basic human relationships. Attested historical instances, however, are rather scarce. For that reason alone, the society of Graeco-Roman Egypt (from c.300 B.C. to A.D. 300), which provides an unusually well-documented case, is of considerable interest. For a period of about three centuries, a significant proportion of all marriages noted in official Roman census declarations were between full brothers and sisters. An analysis of these data, and of the precise historical and social context of the persons mentioned in them, supports the argument that there were special circumstances that led those concerned to override `normal' inhibitions against close-kin marriages and sexual relationships. The reasons for thier doing so were specific to their social situation and cannot be invoked loosely in arguments concerning strategic differences in kinship and marriage patterns between the eastern and western Mediterranean regions.
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It is some years now since the Oxford anthropologist Edwin Ardener in his article ‘Belief and the problem of women’ drew attention to the striking lack of progress that had been made in understanding traditional societies as they are seen from the point of view of women: ‘the models of a society made by most ethnographers tend to be models derived from the male portion of that society’. The result, as he pointed out, is that, in considering social structure, ‘we are, for practical purposes, in a male world. The study of women is on a level little higher than the study of the ducks and fowl they commonly own.’ He went on to put forward an explanation of the fact, by suggesting that, since the dominant structure of society is articulated and communicated in terms of a male world-position, women constitute a ‘muted group’, made inarticulate by the lack of a language in which to communicate their particular sense of society and its relationship to the totality of experience.
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The literary stock of Achilles Tatius has been increasing steadily in value since 1964, when an article about his romance Leucippe and Cleitophon in an encyclopedia of world literature began, ‘Das Werk weist alle Mängel seines Genres samt einigen zusätzlichen eigenen auf.’ To be sure, Leucippe and Cleitophon remains among the last and probably least read of the Greek romances; yet in the last decades critics have begun to draw attention to original and effective aspects of its composition. As is usually the case, this revaluation has been accompanied not so much by the discovery of new virtues which had previously been neglected, but rather by the redescription as virtues of what had always counted as vices. Thus Cleitophon's lack of heroism can now be welcomed as comic realism, the implausibly melodramatic twists of the plot praised as selfconsciously theatrical ironies, and the baroque frigidity of the style counted as loony metaphysical wit or as Brechtian Entfremdung seffekt .
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Tragedy was a product of the classical polis, but took its themes (with very few exceptions) from an imagined earlier age, the heroic age that is also the subject of the Homeric poems. The result, it has been argued, is a creative tension, notably between the spirit of heroic autonomy and the rule of law characteristic of the polis. The institutions of the polis make themselves felt, anachronistically, in the tragic representation of heroic myth.
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While it is sometimes thought that free Athenian women were hemmed in by surveillance within the oikos, this article argues that the obstacle that impeded them when they attempted to control property was that they were excluded from the impersonal and formal systems of surveillance of male citizens. Athenian public life, lived in the view of others, dramatically extended the agency of those within it. While women could compensate for their legal incapacities by cultivating the personal trust of men, this required them to treat some of the people closest to them instrumentally, thus transforming their affectionate relationships. © 2003 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
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A familiar theme in Greek myth is that of the deadly gift that passes between a man and a woman. Analysis of exchanges between men and women reveals the gendered nature of exchange in ancient Greek mythic thinking. Using the anthropological categories of male and female wealth (with examples drawn from many cultures), it is possible to arrive at an understanding of the protocols of exchange as they relate to men and especially to women. These protocols, which are based in part on the distinction between metals and other durable goods as "male" and textiles as "female," are closely related to the gendered division of labor. Anxiety about women as exchangers derives in part from their status as objects exchanged in marriage (as exemplified by Helen in the Iliad), and partly from a misogynist and pessimistic strand of Greek thought (embodied by Hesiod's Pandora) that discounts any female economic contribution to the oikos. Indeed, the majority of destructive exchanges take place within the context of marital crisis. While some texts, beginning with the Odyssey, show the positive side of women's economic role, tragedy tends to follow the Hesiodic distrust of women as exchange partners. Passages from the Agamemnon and the Trachiniai are analyzed to show how in situations of perverted reciprocity brought about by marital discord, even women's traditional gifts of textiles may become deadly.
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If you look up οἶκος in Liddell and Scott, you find the instances classified in three main divisions: first those meaning a house, or sometimes other kinds of building; secondly ‘one's household goods, substance’, for which I shall generally say ‘property’, though Liddell and Scott do not actually use that word; and thirdly ‘family’. This threefold distinction is sound, and I shall adhere to it here. Admittedly one sometimes finds an instance where it is not easy to decide which sense the word has. Two of the senses, occasionally even all three, may overlap. But in the great majority of instances it is clear which sense is meant.
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In this paper 1) I call an offering any act of presenting something to a supernatural being, a sacrifice an offering accompanied by the ritual killing of the object of the offering. This definition does not permit the use of the term sacrifice for killing rituals (a term introduced by Jensen, 1951) that are neither preceded nor followed by the presentation of the object of the rite to a supernatural being. Among the distinctive features of offering and sacrifice I do not include their sacred nature, considered to be their most essential characteristic by Hubert and Mauss, the authors of the Essai sur la Nature et la Fonction sociale du Sacrifice (1899). Founding their argument on data derived from Hebrew and Vedic sources, they concluded that the confrontation with the sacred is the awe-inspiring heart and core of the sacrificial act. However, the authors of these sources were native theologians, representing the views held by a priestly elite caste in a fairly highly developed society. Modern ethnographic research in simpler societies gives evidence that here the victims of a sacrifice are relatively rarely held to be sacred. Under certain circumstances they may, indeed, be tabooed but the rule is that these victims are primarily appreciated as meat. Even the parts more specifically dedicated to the gods are so little sacred that sometimes the children are condoned to snatch up the (mostly small) portions set aside for divine use. The sacred nature of the victim is too accidental a feature to be used as the foundation for the construction of a theory on the origin and development of sacrifice. To that end we have to turn to that general characteristic that sacrifice and offering have in common, that of being gifts. It is all the more desirable to concentrate on this common feature
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Scenes of textile production on Athenian vases are often interpreted as confirming the oppression of women, who many argue were confined to "women's quarters" and exploited as free labor. However, reexamination of the iconography - together with a reconsideration of gender roles and the archaeology of Greek houses dating to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. - suggests that these images idealize female contributions to the household in a positive way. The scenes utilize the dual metaphor of weaving and marriage to express the harmonia of oikos and polis, a theme particularly significant under the evolving Athenian democracy.
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For the Greeks, the body, and especially the body of youths, is one of the principal themes in visual representation. By studying the system of attitudes towards seduction as shown on a number of Attic vases, I intend to show how red‐figure representations reveal an aesthetic view of homosexuality different from the black‐figure one. Corporal expression is the key in the opposition between these two systems of representation where a dynamic gesture gradually replaces a static gesture through the creation of a “conversational art”; which was unknown in the earlier genre.
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The idea that the household was the fundamental building block of ancient Greek society, explicit in the ancient sources, has now become widely accepted. It is no exaggeration to say that ancient Athenians would have found it almost inconceivable that individuals of any status existed who did not belong to some household; and the few who were in this position were almost certainly regarded as anomalous. In ancient Athens, as elsewhere, households ‘are a primary arena for the expression of age and sex roles, kinship, socialization and economic cooperation’. It has been suggested for modern Greece that our own cultural biases, along with the Greek ideology of male dominance, have led to the assumption that the foundations of power in Greek society lie solely in the public sphere, and that domestic power is ‘less important’. In a less simple reality the preeminent role of the household cannot be underestimated. Here I hope to question similar assumptions about ancient Greece, focusing in particular on the relationships that existed between Athenian households and the property of the individuals, particularly women, within these households.
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What have the following in common: Epimetheus, Paris, Anchises, and the suitors of Penelope? The ready answer might be that it must have something to do with women, for it requires no great thought to see that the attractions of femininity proved the undoing of three of them, while for Anchises life was never to be the same again after his encounter with Aphrodite. But suppose we add to our first group such figures as Zeus, Priam, Polynices, and Eumaeus? The fates of all these characters as they, appear at certain points in the poetry of Homer, Hesiod, and others give expression i to a network of interrelated sexual and economic anxieties that seem to underlie a { great deal of what the Archaic poets say about the female sex. In this article I 1 propose to explore a particular part of that network, which I have called the ? ‘Pandora complex’, since it is Hesiod′s version of the Pandora myth which provides the classic statement of the male dilemma over women, poised between the conflicting desires for sexual gratification and domestic stability.1