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Attitudes to outsiders in Ancient Greece: Who is allowed into the household and why?

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Attitudes to 'outsiders' in Ancient Greece: Who is allowed into the household and why? The Ancient Greek household has often been described as a place that contained many boundaries, whether physical or non-physical (Antonaccio 2000: 522). What could have appeared to be a normal room may well have been forbidden to certain types of people. In our attempts to explain the notion of public and private space in ancient Greek households, we have to disregard our modern notions of our own houses and attempt to think as a contemporary. Who, in the ancient Greek world, was allowed into the household or oikos and why? How did this idea of household privacy develop and when did it start? Was it an idea shared around all of ancient Greece, or did it differ from location to location? Indeed, how are we to define 'outsiders'? Could they have been the average neighbour, or was this concept extended to others, like extended family members, slaves and the supernatural? In this essay, I shall also attempt to explore the cultural differences between settlements and how perceptions of the outsider were perceived as well as our own modern interpretations on the notions of public and private space, relating to ancient Greek households. The symposium (or symposion) was a social institution - a common Greek cultural practice whereby groups of males drunk diluted wine amidst entertainment. If it is true that this practice was originally forged for a man of aristocratic class who wished to cement bonds of personal allegiance by feasting and drinking with non related aristocrats at his own residence, then we can go as far back as the twelfth to tenth centuries, where buildings at Kavousi, Vronda, Lefkandi, Toumba and Nichoria are all large enough to serve as houses and host large feasts (Whitley 1991: 349, 363-4). These large residences attracted others or 'outsiders' to associate themselves with the owner, as they knew they could receive a lavish feast (Whitley 1991: 349-50). ...read more.


Theoprastus rabidly insults a woman for talking to men, as if she has brought shame on her house (Characters, 28). In Aristophanes' Lysistrata, the proboulos blames the men for allowing themselves to be cuckolded by tradesmen coming into their homes (404-419; Goldberg 2002: 155). In response, the women go on a s*x strike and from there the females take over the Acropolis, shutting the males out. The women turn the public sphere into their own private home; the Acropolis becomes their house with which the males try to storm via spear and by p*****s (Foley 1982: 7). Though the situation imagined by Aristophanes was ridiculous in its day, the irony of the situation might show the extent to which female influence outside the home was viewed, though there is no way to know how far reality matched dramatisation in this case (Cohen 1989: 7). Athenian women became more visible to 'outsiders' during the festival of Adonia. Women engaged in revelry on their own rooftops (Aristophanes Lys. 387-96), but this was okay, since they were in their home and thus deemed safe, despite being visible to the surrounding community (Morgan 2010: 25-6). Houses that doubled up as shops, workshops and stores would have seen regular mingling of working females and 'outsiders'; the 'House of Simon' saw customers coming into the house (Thompson and Wycherley 1972: 173-85). It is possible that women working in these environments may have gotten used to strangers coming in and thus ignored them (Goldberg 2002: 155-6). It seems that women of lower classes did not bother with shying away as they did not have any 'status' to protect. 'Outsiders' were also deemed to be of the supernatural variety. The festival of Anthesteria required doors to be painted with pitch to ward off ghosts (Morgan 2010: 24). For the birth of a child, a nurse often invoked Artemis into the Athenian household to make sure of a safe birth (Euripides Hippolytus 166-8). ...read more.


1). On the contrary, less decorated houses (A11, A13) had more restricted access (Cahill 2002: 191 despite Nevett 1999: 72). Kitchens, however, were located on the sides furthest away from the street (Cahill 2002: 192, plates 1, 2). Hellenistic Delos seems to have not favoured the andron. Seventy-seven per cent of the housing, including some of the wealthiest, did not have andrones, but preferred multi-use rooms (Tr�mper 2007: 330). Simple houses had their most lavish rooms tucked away at the back of the house, while 'richer' houses had their most lavish rooms connecting to the court (Tr�mper 2007: 331). Thus the priority in Delos seems to have been immediate access to the most decorated rooms. There is also evidence for upper floors in Delos (Tr�mper 2007: 334). From the upper floor of a neighbouring house, this may well have allowed neighbours being able to look upon the courtyards of their neighbours. Latrines, which were common in Delos households, were placed next to entrances where they could have been used by visitors and inhabitants (Tr�mper 2007: 334). Trying to analyse how ancient Greeks viewed outsiders requires us to consider mostly the time period and the circumstances of the house inhabitants, but we need to be careful about categorising different social practices as common place in ancient Greece. In the Greece of the early first millennia BC, there seems to have been a lot less focus on deterring outsiders from property. Rather, elite citizens appeared to have been keen to attract fellow aristocrats to their residences to gain their favour. In archaic Greece, there appears to have been a move to make homes more private; spatial changes occurred as families grew and needed to house more members. Wealthy classical Athenians were keen to keep adulterers out but welcome in divine aid whereas poorer Athenians relied on outsiders for business. Members of rural demes were more receptive of outsiders as they lived in a smaller, intimate community whilst other Aegean settlements displayed different mentalities: Spartans were keen to promote their superiority to outsiders whilst wealthy Delians were keen to show off their lavish rooms. ...read more.

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