The archaic roots of paternalism: Continuity in attitudes towards slaves and slavery in the Odyssey, Xenophon's Oeconomicus, and beyond

Jason Douglas Porter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article discusses differences and continuity in responses to issues of slave management in two texts from different periods of Greek history (Xenophon's Oeconomicus and the Odyssey) and compares these responses to those of slave owners in the Antebellum South, ancient Rome, and the ancient Near East. In particular, it examines different expressions of paternalistic attitudes towards slaves (a well-studied feature of slave-owning classes throughout history) that it finds are present in both of these examples. The article explores the possibility that intertextual links were responsible for these similarities but suggests instead that they are reflective of real Greek slaveholding ideology across hundreds of years, which primarily served to justify an exploitative system and disguise the cruelty and violence inherent in maintaining it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-277
Number of pages23
JournalGreece and Rome
Volume68
Issue number2
Early online date8 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

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