David M. Lewis
Twentieth-century scholarship, guided in particular by the views of M. I. Finley, saw Greece and Rome as the only true ‘slave societies’ of antiquity: slavery in the Near East was of minor economic significance. Finley also believed that the lack of a concept of ‘freedom’ in the Near East made slavery difficult to distinguish from other shades of ‘unfreedom’. This chapter shows that in the Near East the legal status of slaves and the ability to make clear status distinctions were substantively similar to the Greco-Roman situation. Through a survey of the economic contribution of slave labour to the wealth and position of elites in Israel, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Carthage, it is shown that the difference between the ‘classical’ and ‘non-classical’ worlds was not as pronounced as Finley thought, and that at least some of these societies (certainly Carthage) should also be considered ‘slave societies’.
Looking mainly on the literature of the Roman Empire, this article examines the kinds of Hellenisms practised by Romans and other non-Greeks. It claims that not all Hellenisms were centred on fifth-century Athens and that some looked for inspiration to archaic Greece. While Hellenism on the part of Greek writers could be interpreted as anti-Romanism, few Greek texts of the empire offer unambiguous criticism of Rome. People may find both pro-Roman and anti-Roman sentiments in an author, and it is not easy to prove that an author always adopts a particular stance on Rome. If elite Romans themselves championed Hellenism as a cultural legacy, and if Greeks also deployed it to articulate a variety of subject positions in the empire, it appears critically more productive to see Hellenism as one of several modes of interaction available to the colonizers and the colonized during Roman imperial domination over Greece.
The Greeks had no single generic term for ‘slave’, but a variety of terms for diverse relations of dependence and unfree people, many of which were also used to describe free people. Although much less complex, the Roman slave terms show similar features. Despite the ambiguity of the ancient terminology, we may make inferences about various aspects of unfreedom, about ambiguities in social and juridical distinctions, and about attitudes to menial work. This chapter examines Greek and Roman terminologies, aiming at detecting their semantic fields and pointing to a possible identical semantic process behind the adoption of the main slave terms in Greece, Rome, and the modern western world.
This chapter examines Greek and Roman theories of art, paying particular attention to images, the notion of “ancient art theory,” the theory of mimesis, and the ideas of philosophers including Plato and Aristotle. Citing book 19 of the Odyssey, it explores the material nature of the products of artistic craft, their impact on viewers, and the function and contexts framing the use and reception of artifacts. It considers the reasons for the apparent absence of “theories of art” in ancient Greece and Rome and analyzes a number of objects and texts concerning objects. It also discusses the material and affective dimensions of ancient aesthetics, along with the representational (and epiphanic) nature of art and its capacity to access an invisible reality or ideal. Finally, the chapter looks at the artist’s role in fashioning the image and the sources of the “vision” or mental apprehension informing his work.
This article explores the work performed on Greek and Roman technology in recent decades. It then addresses how technology has come to be perceived as an integral component of the society and economy of the classical world. The academic study of sources and evidence for Greek and Roman technology has made excellent progress in recent years. It is hardly surprising that technological determinism became a feature of the period between the two world wars of the twentieth century. Ethnography has enhanced the significance of the material world and artifacts. For several centuries archaeologists have approached material culture through the classification of collections. Alongside ethnographic and contextual studies of technology, reflection about the nature of change has stimulated the exploration of evolutionary ideas. The Loss of Innocence is described. Key terms such as discovery, invention, and innovation are specifically discussed before further approaches to technology are examined.
A. A. Donohue
This chapter focuses on the modern historiography of art and architecture in ancient Greece and Rome and its relationship with modern intellectual history. It begins with an analysis of two fundamental conditions that have shaped the modern historiography of the Greek and Roman visual arts: the fragmentary survival of the remains of the Classical past and the normative position of the Classical cultures in Western civilization. It then turns to Greek and Roman texts bearing on the historiography of the visual arts. The chapter concludes with a discussion of recent and current approaches to the historiography of Greek and Roman art and architecture.
Judith Evans Grubbs
This chapter discusses the ancient practice of infant exposure via the abandonment of a newborn within the first week of life. Although often equated with infanticide (the outright killing of a newborn), exposure allowed the possibility of the infant’s survival and rescue by a third party. This chapter explores the motivations for exposure and the possible fates of a child who survived, using literary, legal, papyrological, and patristic sources. Exposure was accepted as a regrettable fact of life in the Greek and Roman world, although some philosophers and a number of Christian apologists spoke out against it. Ultimately, in late antiquity, imperial law enacted measures intended to discourage exposure and encourage the rescue of abandoned infants, although the extent to which these laws affected actual practice is unknown.
John H. Kroll
In the Greek world, monetary practices included the transactional use of weighed bullion. Special circumstances explain why coinage happened to originate in the Greek region. One was that electrum was indigenous to Lydia and by the seventh century was being extracted from the Pactolus River in legendary quantities. Consequently, among the Lydians and their Greek neighbors, electrum had become more abundant than silver and pure gold. The second circumstance was that electrum was an inconsistent and easily adulterated metal and thus poorly suited for reliable monetary exchange. Finally, the key factor that made coinage possible and distinguished it from all earlier forms of money was the involvement of the state. Coinage quickly came to be regarded as both an indispensable instrument of economic and public life and, like standard weights and measures, with which it was often associated, a fundamental responsibility of the well-ordered state.
Against the background of the centrality of a text-oriented society and the crucial role of the Hebrew Bible in shaping Jewish childhood in antiquity, this chapter considers the role of visual literacy through an examination of synagogal paintings and mosaics. The article asks how images shaped the social experience and acculturation of children into a society governed by communal prayers, commemorative festivities, synagogal gatherings, and rules harking back to Scripture. Why do visuals, illustrating biblical scenes featuring children, suddenly emerge on walls and floors of synagogues, beginning (so far as we can tell) with mid-third century Dura Europos and continuing with synagogues in the Land of Israel?
This chapter approaches the theme of ancient disabilities from the angle of the life course. After an introduction on definitions and concepts as well as demography and medicine, it tackles the issues of etiology of disability, the chances of survival for neonates in the first days of their life, early childhood years, schooling or labor, and marriage and family life. Attention is paid to both the practicalities of daily life and popular attitudes. This chapter also deals with the question of the possible change caused by Christianity, both in ideology and in everyday life.
In turning to the vexed relationship between Latin and Greek literature, this article analyses a series of famous passages about Rome's debt to Greece, and calls on readers to be more critical and less accepting of the claims made by elite writers. Latin arguments about cultural indebtedness need to be contextualized in socio-historical terms. What are the stakes in sketching out a literary and cultural ‘reconciliation’ between Greeks and Romans when Greeks are subjects of Rome's empire? Does competition between Romans and the Italic peoples serve as an incentive for the aggressive and hegemonic promotion, by Romans, of a hybrid Graeco-Roman culture? The discussion holds that critics need to be more sensitive to the many different kinds of appropriation by Romans of Greek culture and to appreciate the importance of distinctions within Roman Hellenisms.
Thomas A. Schmitz
This article focuses on the Second Sophistic, which is considered as a cultural movement that gained prominence during the second and third centuries
The lives of lower-class children in Rome must frequently have been sad and brutal. They would be put to work very early in life, and their hope for a good life and for social progress rested primarily on the goodwill of their owners and their own intelligence. The one thing that could provide them with a sense of stability and a feeling of safety was belonging to a domus, which included not just the freeborn but also freedmen and freedwomen and their descents: lower-class children. The various other lower-class children—abandoned children, the poor freeborn, delicia, and slave children—could count on the chance of a reasonable life were they to be included within a domus in some manner or another. So it is that these lower-class children might have thought their lives were good as long as they belonged somewhere.
Ancient slave owners often wanted to see slaves merely as extensions of their own social persona. Modern historians, however, have given increasing attention to ancient slaves as active social actors, and not just in exceptional circumstances such as rebellion. Slaves could have family lives and sometimes had a social existence with ties beyond that of their masters’ households. Our evidence (chiefly from Athens and from the Roman Empire) comes with considerable caveats. It is nonetheless clear that slave families, interaction between slaves of different households, and interaction between slave, freed, and free in wider society may have been greater than previously assumed, especially in Rome. It may even match what could be seen, for example, in the later slave societies of the urban USA and Brazil.