Honour in the oikos: reciprocity, respect, and recognition in fourth-century Athens
Mazzinghi Gori, Bianca
This thesis investigates honour and recognition dynamics in fourth-century Athenian oikoi, looking in particular at the subordinate members of the family. Through a balanced combination of textual analysis and multi-disciplinary approaches, this thesis reassesses the experiences of children, women, and slaves, while contributing to a reassessment of timē more generally along the lines of modern theories of recognition. The aim is to show that timē is a bidirectional mechanism that pervades all sorts of interactions, allowing for complex interpersonal dynamics even in starkly asymmetrical relationships. The first chapter briefly sketches the various expressions of timē in the interpersonal sphere, while the second chapter looks more specifically at the possibility of recognition dynamics involving infants. In this chapter, much attention is devoted to ancient and modern accounts of infants’ psychology: as I argue, some ancient sources agree with modern accounts of infants’ psychology as essentially intersubjective. Intersubjectivity is the conceptual basis for the understanding of honour put forth in this thesis: the various case studies examined throughout the thesis demonstrate the fundamental awareness of the inextricable links between one’s own timē and the timē of others. Chapters three, four, and five investigate the honour of children, women, and slaves respectively. Particular attention is given to the recognition they could obtain and expect in their relationships with other members of the oikos. Despite their subordinate status vis-à-vis their parents, husbands, and masters respectively, these categories were able to leverage the reciprocity inherent in relationships of all sorts, putting forth claims to recognition and respect. In addition to this, other paths were available to accrue honour and recognition, both in and out of the oikos, thanks for instance to athletic achievements, religious associations, or professional expertise. This thesis therefore contributes to a reassessment of timē as a fundamentally cooperative mechanism based on bidirectionality, while also shedding light on the experiences of the subordinate members of the family in fourth-century Athens from an innovative perspective. As this thesis shows, timē dynamics enabled children, women, and slaves to negotiate their claims to respect and defend their right to recognition.