Atimia: dishonour, disfranchisement, and civic disability in archaic and classical Athens
This thesis centres around the legal penalty of atimia (‘dishonour’ or ‘disrespect’) in the archaic and classical periods of Greek history, analysed against the wider backdrop of the role of timē (‘honour’/‘worth’ or ‘respect’), of which a-timia is the exact antonym. The main contention of this thesis is that, contrary to the communis opinio, the legal penalty of atimia was not an exclusive concern of male citizens – in fact, its scope was much wider, and the legal remedy was available, for example, also against citizen women, and (male and female) resident aliens and foreigners. My thesis argues, therefore, that this flexibility of the penalty of ‘dishonour’ and the rationale behind its use in policing anti-social behaviour are better understood through the lens of ‘honour’. This, contrary to current (and mistaken) understandings of the concept, is not a limited non-material commodity, pursued mostly by males in often violent forms of ‘zero-sum’ competition, and a disruptive value typical of Mediterranean societies, but rather a pluralist and bidirectional notion that has to do with the interplay of deference (i.e. both one’s respect for others’ claims and others’ respect for one’s own) and demeanour (i.e. the respectable conduct, self-presentation, and self-respect that safeguard one’s own claims to deference) – an interplay which the Greeks understood and construed intuitively through the conceptual structure of their language. Thus, timē is not simply one value among many, but a measure of the value of any quality or set of qualities, and a motivational mechanism that accommodates both competitive and cooperative behaviour. After an Introduction that summarises the status quaestionis and lays out the methodology of the thesis, informed by sociological approaches and behavioural science, Chapter 1 explores the notion of timē in the legal sphere and argues that the ancient Greek notion of ‘honour’ was used to define both the (legal) status (timē as a mass noun) of an individual and the rights and privileges (timē in the singular, timai in the plural) attached to that status. By approaching timē from the standpoint of atimia, then, and by examining what it is that atimia deprives one of, it is possible to understand, e contrario, what timē really is. Chapter 2 examines the notion of atimia through its historical development, starting from archaic literature and arriving to legal (both literary and epigraphic) texts of the classical period. In Chapter 3, the legal penalty of atimia, the relevant procedures through which it was enforced, and the types of crime for which it was meted out in the classical period are investigated in full. Through a close reading of the relevant statutes as they are presented in the ancient sources and the analysis of the social dynamics that underpinned these laws, it is possible to see how the threat of ‘dishonour’ was used to promote cooperative behaviour by communally censoring ‘dishonourable’ (i.e. anti-social) conduct through the (political and social) exclusion of the offender. This discussion is complemented by Chapter 4, which deals with the consequences of legal dishonour for those more marginalised groups – citizen women and (male and female) free non-citizens – who nevertheless enjoyed a legally recognised status (and legally recognised rights) within the polis, and is followed by a Conclusion that sums up the main findings of the thesis.