Private Morality in Greece and Rome: Some Historical Aspects 9004059768, 9789004059764

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Private Morality in Greece and Rome: Some Historical Aspects
 9004059768, 9789004059764

Table of contents :
PRIVATE MORALITY IN GREECE AND ROME
CONTENTS
Preface
List of abbreviations
I. Morality and Social Relationships
II. Morality and Religion
III. The Earliest Gods and Morality
IV. The Emotional Life of the Greeks: Its Influence on their Moral and Religious Disposition
Guilt and Punishment
Toil as a Punishment
Inevitability in Human Situations
The Moral and Religious Attitude of Pericles
Widows
Orphans
Orphans in Plato's Laws and Other Works
War Orphans
The Presentation of War Orphans to the People
The Task of the Archons
The Burial of those killed in Battle
Dating
Emotion
Orphans in Jewish Society
Legislation and Care in Judaism
Guardians for the Care of Jewish Orphans
V. Neighbour and Love of Neighbour
Digression
Wider Concentric Circles
Greece as opposed to Rome
A Fundamental Principle
Appendix
VI. Prodigium and Morality
The Incomprehensible
Sources
What was done with deformed Children?
An Androgynous Prediction (Phlegon, Mirabilia, 10)
Conflicting Judgements
Private Omens
VII. The Deformed
Thargelia
Dignitas humana
Stoicism
VIII. Rich and Poor
The Rich and Wealth
The Holding of Office
Καλοί χάγαθοί
Πένης and ӆτωχὸς
God as the Helper of the Poor
Theoretical Statements about Help given to the 'Poor'
On the Borderline between Theory and Practice
The Community, the Plousioi, and the Penētes
IX. The Opposite Side of the Coin: Man and Citizen
A Moral Question in Practice: Payment for Services rendered to the State
The Law and Morality
Citizens and Parties
The Relationship between Citizens
The Political Structure
The State and the Citizen
The Intrinsic Value of Democracy
Suggestions for Further Research
X. Slaves
The Place of Slavery in Society
Hoplites and Slaves
Slaves as opposed to Free Men
The Nature of Reporting about Slaves and the Lower Classes
Party Conflicts
How can we escape from this Labyrinth?
The Data for Greece
The Control of Slaves
Contracts
The Situation of Slavery seen from the Slave's Point of View
Differences in Special Places and Special Circumstances
Activities
Technology and Morality
Town and Country
Dissatisfaction with the Scarcity of Data
XI. Women in Religion and Morality
Unfavourable
Favourable
Intermediate Standpoint
Emancipation?
School Education
Being of one mind or saying 'we'
The Protection of Women
Conclusions
XII. Abortion and Family Planning
Selected Bibliography
Indices
Index of passages from ancient authors
General index
Modern authors

Citation preview

PRIVATE MORALITY IN GREECE AND ROME SOME HISTORICAL ASPECTS

MNEMOSYNE BIBLIOTHECA CLASSICA BATAVA COLLEGERUNT W. DEN BOER • A. D. LEEMAN • W.

J. VERDENIUS

BIBLIOTHECAE FASCICULOS EDENDOS CURAVIT W.

J.

VERDENIUS, HOMERUSLAAN

53,

ZEIST

SUPPLEMENTUM QUINQUAGESIMUM SEPTIMUM W. DEN BOER

PRIVATE MORALITY IN GREECE AND ROME SOME HISTORICAL ASPECTS

LUGDUNI BATAVORUM E.

J. BRILL MCMLXXIX

PRIVATE MORALITY IN GREECE AND ROME SOME HISTORICAL ASPECTS

BY

W.DENBOER Professor of Ancient History in the University of Leiden

LEIDEN E. J. BRILL 1979

ISBN 90 04 05976 8 Copyright 1979 by E. J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands All rights reserved. No pa,1 of this book may be reproduced or 1,ansla1ed in any form, by print, pho1op,in1, microfilm, microfiche o, any other means without wrillen permission from the publisher PlUNTED IN THE NETHERLANDS

CONTENTS Preface List of abbreviations. . I. Morality and Social Relationships

IX XI l

II. Morality and Religion . . . .

13

III. The Earliest Gods and Morality

19

IV. The Emotional Life of the Greeks: I ts Influence on their Moral and Religious Disposition . Guilt and Punishment . . . . . Toil as a Punishment. . . . . . Inevitability in Human Situations The Moral and Religious Attitude of Pericles Widows. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Orphans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Orphans in Plato's Laws and Other Works War Orphans . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Presentation of War Orphans to the People . The Task of the Archons . . . . . The Burial of those killed in Battle. Dating . . . . . . . . . Emotion . . . . . . . . . . . Orphans in Jewish Society . . . Legislation and Care in Judaism . Guardians for the Care of Jewish Orphans

24 25 28 30 33 34 37 41 46 48 50 50 51 56 56 57 59

V. Neighbour and Love of Neighbour . Digression . . . . . . . . Wider Concentric Circles . . Greece as opposed to Rome . A Fundamental Principle . Appendix. . . . . . VI. Prodigium and Morality The Incomprehensible Sources . . . . . . What was done with deformed Children? .

62 72 78 82 83 89

93 93 97 98

VI

CONTENTS

An Androgynous Prediction (Phlegon, Mirabilia, ro) Conflicting Judgements. Private Omens VII. The Deformed . . Thargelia . . . Dignitas humana. Stoicism . .

103

n7 124 129 129

137 147

VIII. Rich and Poor. 151 The Rich and Wealth 151 The Holding of Office 156 KaAot xcxyix6ot . . . . 16r Il&v'Yj~ and 1t't'OCA1Jpewc; 't'WV &7t't'a: O'Ol'f)WV ti1toip6eyµoc-roc. Another collection of such excerpts, attributed to Sosiades (one hundred and forty-seven in all), was also preserved by Stobaeus. I do not think, however, that proverbial wisdom, any more than any philosophical precept, can be classified under the heading of lived morality. A proverb such as 'honesty is the best policy' can be preached morality and can also be quoted by any cheat. 5 4. Funeral inscriptions. It is certain that we can learn about certain special virtues from these inscriptions, but can we ever be certain that these virtues were not highly coloured? 6 For proverbs, see L. Bieler, 'Die Namen des Sprichworts in den klassischen Sprachen', RhM (1936), p. 240 ff.; R. Stromberg, Greek Proverbs. A Collection of Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases which are not listed by the Ancient and Byzantine Paroemiographers, Goteborg (1954).

6

MORALITY AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS

5. Funeral orations. My objection to these as examples of lived morality is even greater. Were they not a form of preaching that was often even further from the reality of life? 6 6. Prose biographies. The classical example of this form is, of course, Xenophon's Agesilaus, but to what extent is this work lived morality? And to what extent is Ischomachus' wife in the Oeconomicus an example of lived morality? Is there no preaching at all, either in the case of Xenophon himself or in that of his characters? He has, after all, freqently been included among the philosophers. My provisional conclusion, then, must be that these six groups of sources refer not only to lived morality, but also to preached morality. The Jewish Book of Ecclesiastes is perhaps the best example of both. What is the situation with regard to Bolkestein's other group of sources, those which reveal preached morality? Are they really exclusively examples of preached morality or do they also contain an important element of practical, lived morality? In this context, Bolkestein mentions five great philosophers: Pythagoras, Democritus, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. This is not all, however. In addition to the works of these great forerunners, he also includes the writings of various moralists (most of the laws of various nonAthenian lawgivers come under this heading), the Cynics, Epicurus and the Epicureans, and the Stoics. It cannot, of course, be denied that philosophers preach morality, but their precepts have, in my opinion, a clear connection with reality. Although this connection is sometimes negative, because the precept is not lived, it is usually positive. My chief objection to Bolkestein's classification, however, is concerned with the third group, because a proverb is as much preached morality as a moral sermon. Any moral admonition is full of proverbs and proverbial sayings. But in either case it may be rooted in life or it may not. Sometimes the proverb is lived and sometimes the admonition is preached, but it may be the other way round, or also both may be the same. In other words, there is a difference, but neither form of precept is exclusively preached or lived. The variety of the different kinds of morality can perhaps be 9 Poets include Phocylides and Theognis, and among prose orators the name of Isocrates at once comes to mind.

MORALITY AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS

7

illustrated by an example. What I have in mind is a fairly frequently quoted skolion or drinking song. 7 The third line of this poem is clearly a precept with a moral content. The poet wants prosperity, but insists that it must be honestly acquired. Is this lived or preached morality? It is both, though there are rogues both in practice and in theory. This skolion is also interesting because it places health in the foreground: nostrorum sanitas ! External appearance and youth with its attractive form are also stressed-it is well known that an ugly, misshapen body was despised in ancient Greece. In the fourth line there is a direct reference to being young with one's friends and therefore to drinking parties and also perhaps to old age. There is an implicit aversion to the latter and possibly an indirect reference to the poet's contemporaries and the frequent deaths among them. When old men gather with their friends, they talk about their illnesses. It is only the young who can enjoy the gaiety of drinking parties. 8 To be healthy was certainly to be exceptionally blessed. This conviction is expressed in a short poem contained in the Nicomach. Ethics of Aristotle which is said to have been inscribed on the sanctuary of Leto on the island of Delos:



KaAALO"t'OV TO 8txoi:L6Toi:TOV, Acj>GTOV uytoi:(veLv. IIa.VTCi)V ~8LaTOV, 00 TL; TO 't'IJ)'._ELV.



ep~.

'The most beautiful is what is most righteous, the most pleasant is to be healthy. The sweetest of all is to gain what one desires'. The man who had this inscribed at the entrance of the temple, was in fact summarizing in these few words his wisdom (that is, his preaching) and his experience of TIJV eoi:uTou yv6>µ'Yjv ocno1tw expressed Hippodamus' opinion and that vuv in this passage means 'in reality', but this strikes me as rather forced, as indeed does Newman's entire argument. 44 My explanation of this text agrees with the information we have concerning the separate duties assigned to magistrates in respect of orphans. Hippodamus' aim here was to adopt a new stance. Newman was right to call it 'unusual' and, in my opinion, this special care of war orphans was quite new. It was a means by which the fourth class of the population, the thetes, could achieve a higher status. Their children could at least become hoplites. We have records of provision for war orphans from fifth century Athens, but not as a continuous occupation of magistrates performing a regular duty. The measures seem to be occasional, sometimes even a product of opportunism, 48 Here uncertainty prevails. Stroud, op. cit., p. 288 is more positive about IG 11 . 6+ 9 (seep. 54 below). Bolkestein, whom I am inclined to endorse, is negative about SIG 3 42 (op. cit., p. 281). 44 w