The Erotics of Manumussion: Prostitutes and the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ

DOI : 10.54563/eugesta.832

Abstract

This paper explores evidence for third party manumissions, indicated in the sources by forms of λυέσθαι and λυτρώσασθαι. It considers the procedure followed and the legal status of slaves freed in this manner, but the focus is on conceptions of this method of manumission and social mentalities toward it. The paper concludes that this practice was an informal procedure of manumission used to free prostitutes. Oratory and comedy employ it as an example of youthful extravagance and to comment on an opponent’s negative mental state. It also highlights a common stereotype of prostitutes as manipulative and scheming. While the procedure of third party manumission supports arguments for different classes of freed slaves, it also questions the idea that masters imposed formal conditions on the freedom of ex-slaves in classical Athens.

Outline

Text

The speech of Hyperides, Against Athenogenes, centers on the purchase of an attractive slave boy. The speaker narrates how Athenogenes, the owner, advised him not to purchase the boy’s freedom, arguing that if the speaker were to purchase the boy for the purpose of freedom, the boy would not be under any obligation to him1. If, however, he were to acquire the boy as a slave, then no one else would be able to ruin the boy (Ath. 5-6)2. It is clear from the context that διαφθείρειν (to corrupt) is meant in a sexual sense3. Athenogenes adds a second benefit: if the speaker should liberate the boy as his owner, the boy would owe him χάρις (gratitude) and thus be obliged to him as his manumittor. In the end, the speaker is convinced not only to purchase ownership of the slave boy, but also his father, brother and the perfumery in which they work for forty minas. The speaker presents himself as motivated by desire (Ath. 2): his overall intention was to have the slave boy as a sexual plaything. The episode is a good starting place for exploring connections between prostitution, slavery and manumission practices. While the individual details of the case are not verifiable, the speech nevertheless suggests two ways for a lover to deal with a slave prostitute that he wants for himself: direct purchase or purchase for the purpose of freedom. It poses a number of important questions: What does the speaker mean by χάρις? Why would purchasing a slave’s freedom be desirable or beneficial? What were the cultural attitudes toward the manumission of slave prostitutes, especially in the case of the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ (sale for the purpose of freedom)? How common a practice was πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ and in what circumstances? Does a slave freed through a πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ achieve greater independence, at least legally, than a slave freed directly by a master? My particular interest is the cultural construction of the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ: what we can learn about Athenian conceptions of this procedure of manumission and social mentalities toward it, as well as any legal practices we can reconstruct for it.

Evaluating the Evidence

Traditionally, the inscriptional evidence known as the “Attic Manumissions”4 has been favoured over literary sources in the reconstruction of manumission practices for Athens, but the detailed references to manumission contained within the literary sources merit more careful exploration5. Evidence for the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ comes exclusively from comedy and oratory as well as the historian Herodotus. The anecdotal nature of this body of evidence and its circumstances certainly present problems for interpretation: comedy functioned as entertainment and often reverses and/or exaggerates common practices; however, it commonly explores contemporary issues and as a result can be helpful in determining attitudes towards manumission practices and the perceived motivations of manumittors. Oratory focused on winning the favour of a jury or other audience. While the agonistic nature of the speeches makes interpretation problematic, since the speakers attempt to manipulate the emotions of the audiences and so, like comedy, might exaggerate events or make up a story as a way to attack an opponent, the context of the law courts suggests that the general assumptions and underlying practices behind these comments must be accurate, otherwise a speaker would lose credibility6. In addition to manumission practices and the status of slaves, forensic speeches, like comedy, are an important source of attitudes toward manumission. While the different sources present challenges, awareness of their contexts as well as careful attention to repeated content across texts make this evidence usable and useful in determining social attitudes and even basic principles surrounding the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ on which the inscriptional evidence is silent7.

The practice of πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

In ancient Greece there were three main ways that a privately owned slave might attain freedom8. The master might free a slave directly, indicated in the sources, for example, by ἀφίημι ἐλεύθερον/αν (I let go as free) or by the verb ἀπελευθερῶ (I set free)9. Direct manumission could include a verbal declaration by the master (Dem. 29.25-26, 47.55-56), a declaration in a written will10 or a proclamation in the theater (Aeschin. 3.41,44). Slaves might also purchase their freedom with their own money or through a loan, an ἔρανος, gathered from family and friends or even strangers. This practice appears particularly common in the case of free individuals enslaved through war and piracy and it is clear that the loaners expected to be paid back (Dem. 53.6-13). In classical Athens, freed slaves who defaulted on such loans became the property of their redeemer (λυσάμενος) (Dem. 53.11). Finally, a third party might purchase freedom for a slave, a procedure known to scholars as the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ (sale for the purpose of freedom) or the πρᾶσις ἐπὶ λύσει (sale for the purpose of release) and specified by forms of λύομαι or λυτροῦμαι ([Dem.] 48.53)11. In this case a master accepts money from a third party in order to grant a slave’s freedom. It appears to be a kind of gift to the slave, since no repayment of the purchase price is required. These last two cases of manumission have potential for confusion, since slaves might contribute some of their own funds to a third party, who will then make up the rest of the purchase price ([Dem.] 59.31-32), or they might receive part of the slave price as a gift and use a loan for payment of the rest (Dem. 53.6-9). In both cases, forms of λύομαι (I redeem/buy the freedom of) indicate the redeemer and distinguish the practice from direct manumission by a master12. The best way to differentiate between these two practices, it seems, is whether or not the slave price requires paying back. While wills or loan documents might provide a record of manumission, witnesses to the transaction rather than official documentation was the proof that such manumissions had occurred.

Textual sources most commonly mention the manumission of slave prostitutes. Table 1 records 33 instances of manumission or promises of manumission, 19 of which are related to the sex trade industry. Even when we remove [Demosthenes] 59 from the count (listing up to 8), references to the freeing of prostitutes still dominate the list of examples. Of even greater interest, references to the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ are ONLY common in the case of slave prostitutes, suggesting that the practice was most common or at least most worthy of comment in the case of such slaves13. The earliest reference to a purchase for the purpose of freedom appears in Herodotus’ account of the freeing of the slave prostitute Rhodopis (Hdt. 2.135). Herodotus writes:

Ῥοδῶπις δὲ ἐς Αἴγυπτον ἀπίκετο Ξάνθεω τοῦ Σαμίου κομίσαντός [μιν], ἀπικομένη δὲ κατ’ ἐργασίην ἐλύθη χρημάτων μεγάλων ὑπὸ ἀνδρὸς Μυτιληναίου Χαράξου τοῦ Σκαμανδρωνύμουπαιδός, ἀδελφεοῦ δὲ Σαπφοῦς τῆς μουσοποιοῦ.

Rhodopis came to Egypt because [her master] Xanthes of Samos brought her, and although she came to work, she was immediately released [from slavery] for a lot of money by Kharaxos of Mytilene, son of Scamandronymus and brother of the poet Sappho (2.135).

He employs a passive form of λύομαι (I redeem) here. At the end of the section Herodotus uses the middle aorist participle (λυσάμενος) to refer to Kharaxos’s action of purchasing freedom for Rhodopis. The same participial form of this verb also describes how Olympiodoros in [Demosthenes] 48.53, Apollodoros in Demosthenes 36.45 and Philokleon in Aristophanes’ Wasps (1352-53) either bought the freedom or intended to buy the freedom of female slave prostitutes from their pimps. The verb λυτροῦμαι, like λύομαι, also refers to the purchase of a slave’s freedom. This is the verb used to describe how Hyperides gained freedom for the hetaira Phila ([Plu.] Mor. 849D)14. Male prostitutes also benefit from this procedure. According to Diogenes Laertius, the philosopher Phaedo was a slave prostitute, whose freedom Socrates convinced Alcibiades or Crito to purchase (λυτρώσασθαι) (D.L. 2.105). While the story itself may be suspect, the procedure reflects what we know of the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ: a third party provides the funds for the purchase of the freedom of a slave. In Hyperides, Against Athenogenes, the speaker’s “broker,” Antigone (herself an ex-prostitute turned πορνοβοσκοῦσα (female sex trafficker))15, makes known that Athenogenes is willing to release (ἀπολύειν) some slaves for forty minas (Ath. 4). We learn exactly what Antigone means by ἀπολύειν from Athenogenes, who supposedly said the following to the speaker when they met: “you intend to put down (καταβαλεῖς) money for the freedom (ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ) of Midas and his two sons” (Ath. 5)16. Athenogenes is willing to release the slaves into freedom, if the speaker pays up. Once again we have a reference to purchase for the purpose of freedom. Although the speaker of Lysias 4 is purposely vague, it appears that the female prostitute who is the cause of the dispute was a slave prostitute whose freedom was purchased by the prosecutor and the defendant in more agreeable times17. The speaker claims now, however, that she is a slave, while the opponent appears to argue that she is in fact ἐλευθέρα (free). In none of these examples is it suggested or hinted that the redeemer required the prostitute to repay the funds for the purchase of his or her freedom.

The most in depth account of manumission for the classical period is the freeing of the slave prostitute Neaira in [Demosthenes] 59.29-3218. We have such a detailed account because the speaker, Apollodoros, is interested to prove to the jurors that Neaira was a slave and prostitute in the early part of her life and thus never a female citizen. Although we are unsure of the outcome of the trial and even about the status of Neaira as a prostitute and slave, the speech likely presents a plausible picture of the life and freeing of a slave prostitute19. Neaira was originally purchased as a παιδίσκη (a young untrained sex slave) for the purpose of prostitution in Corinth ([Dem.] 59.18-20)20. Her purchaser was Nikarete, herself an ἀπελευθέρα (freedwoman) of Charisios, from Elis, and married to his cook Hippias. Nikarete raises Neaira and educates her in the art of the prostitute’s trade (παιδεῦσαι ἐμπείρως). She puts Neaira to work in both Athens and Corinth at what, even for ancient Greeks, was a very young age ([Dem.] 59.21-26). Although it is not clear exactly when, two clients, Timanoridas of Corinth and Eukrates of Leukas, purchase (ὠνοῦνται) Neaira from Nikarete for 30 minas and keep her as their own personal sex slave (δούλη) ([Dem.] 59.29). Both men own her and are joint masters of her person. Later, when the two men decide to take wives and get married, they no longer want to keep and maintain Neaira, but at the same time, do not want to see her working in Corinth or being under the control of a πορνοβοσκός (pimp) after she has served as their personal sex companion. They thus do not want to sell her as a slave, but instead offer to free her for 20 minas, remitting 1000 drachmas (10 minas) from the original price they paid for her. Their only stipulation is that Neaira not work in Corinth ever again ([Dem.] 59.30). Her manumission does not require any further association with her recent masters.

Neaira obtains part of the money toward her freedom from some past lovers (ἐρασταί), adds to it what money she herself has acquired, and then hands it all over to Phrynion, who, coming up with the remaining balance, hands the full 20 minas over to Timanoridas and Eukrates – thereby earning Neaira her freedom ([Dem.] 59.31-32). While Neaira contributes some funds to the purchase of her freedom, the price of her freedom is actually paid by a third party, in this case made up of past lovers with Phrynion making the largest contribution and overseeing the purchase of her freedom. The procedure is made legal by the presence of a witness ([Dem.] 59.32) and appears to be a πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ, a sale for the purpose of freedom21. Zelnick-Abramovitz, in contrast, argues that Neaira’s release into freedom is not a third party release, since Apollodoros claims Neaira gathered the funds from her past lovers as an ἔρανος towards her freedom ([Dem.] 59.31)22. An ἔρανος is commonly understood to be an interest free loan collected from a group of friends or strangers23. The beneficiary had to pay back the loan, sometimes within a very tight timeframe. If a slave failed to pay back the loan within the agreed time, he or she risked the possibility of an increase to the amount owing or, even worse, reverted back to slave status (Dem. 53.10-11). From the text, however, it seems that the money was put forward without expectations that Neaira would pay any of it back24. Apollodoros makes no mention of dissatisfied parties with claims against Neaira for repayment. For this reason, K. Kapparis suggests in his recent commentary on the speech that it was not technically an ἔρανος, but an εἰσφορά, since an εἰσφορά does not require paying back25.

Status and Standing after πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

Neaira appears to have no further connection with Timanoridas and Eukrates, her ex-owners, once she is freed. They make clear they want nothing more to do with her and do not even want her in the same city. The only stipulation for her freedom is that she not work as a prostitute in Corinth ([Dem. 59.32). There is no indication of a penalty for violating this requirement and the legality of the restriction is unclear. What is certain, however, is that Neaira has no future ties to her ex-masters. Freedom acquired through the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ appears to come without any long term obligations to the past owner on the part of the slave. The newly freed slave is thus free of her ex-masters. This appears to contrast with slaves directly freed by the master. Nikarete herself, for example, and a freedwoman in Isaeus 6 appear to be closely connected to their ex-owners26. Both women are referred to with ἀπελευθέρα (freedwoman) with the name of a free male in the genitive27. Nikarete is the ἀπελευθέρα of the Elean Charisios (Χαρισίου μὲν οὖσα τοῦ Ἠλείου ἀπελευθέρα) and traffics in women ([Dem.] 59.18)28. In Isaeus 6 the formula is not followed exactly, but the text makes clear that she is the freedwoman of Euctemon (Ἀπελευθέρα ἦν αὐτοῦ) (6.19). In fact she runs a συνοικία (tenement house) for him, acting also as a female pimp by keeping prostitutes there. In these two examples, it appears that the master freed the slave and kept her in his employment as a πορνοβοσκοῦσα29. In each case, the ex-master likely set up and profited from the establishment, with the freed slave acting as the manager and front person for the business30. Alce in Isaeus 6 may also be such a business woman. Although purchased as a slave by the ἀπελευθέρα of Euctemon, the text is unclear about her manumission, simply referring to Alce as ἄνθρωπος31. Of course the speaker has reason to be vague about Alce’s status, since Euctemon is his relative and he appears to have become infatuated with her, eventually spending more time with her than with his family (6.20-21)32. She becomes manager of his συνοικία in the Kerameikos and, in addition to selling wine, her establishment is generally thought to be a πορνεῖον (brothel), like the business in the Piraeus. Euctemon, furthermore, regularly goes there to collect money (τὸ ἐνοίκιον, commonly translated as rent). The narrative thus hints that Alce is in the same situation as the πορνοβοσκοῦσα in the Piraeus: a freedwoman of Euctemon in charge of a συνοικία and brothel. While these women clearly maintained personal and economic connections with their ex-owners, the texts are silent on the specifics of such connections and the exact obligations they entailed33. Neaira, in contrast, maintains no connection to her ex-owners. Zelnick-Abramovitz argues that Neiara is under obligation to Phrynion instead upon her release into freedom and that such an obligation was part of her repayment of an ἔρανος34, but such a condition is doubtful: Neaira appears to stay with Phrynion only as long as it suits her35. Her decision to go with him to Athens is likely motivated by the fact that she can no longer stay in Corinth, is penniless upon her manumission, since she handed over some money in her bid for freedom, and needs to be supported as a kept woman. She thus appears to become Phrynion’s personal lover by choice. The two however, do not get along: Neaira does not like how Phrynion treats her, according to Apollodoros, so Neaira leaves Athens and moves to Megara ([Dem.] 59.33-35). Neaira thus appears distinct from ἀπελεύθεροι more generally36.

Although not specific to Athens, the account of Rhodopis in Herodotus (part of which is quoted above) also suggests that a slave released through the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ gains complete independence from the ex-master and is not restricted by any formal indebtedness to anyone upon her release into freedom (2.135)37. Rhodopis appears to be completely free and under no obligations to either Xanthes or Kharaxos after her release from slavery. Herodotus describes Rhodopis as living as a free woman (ἐλευθερώθη) after her release and narrates that Kharaxos returned to Mytilene (without Rhodopis) after having bought her freedom for her. She is also able to acquire a significant personal fortune. Hyperides’ speech Against Athenogenes, furthermore, contrasts the practices of third party release and direct release by a master. The speaker narrates how the defendant Athenogenes advised him NOT to purchase Midas and his sons for the purpose of freedom (ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ):

σ̣ μὲ[ν γάρ]’ ̣φη̣ ‘[τὸ] ἀργύριον ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ καταβαλε̣[]ς̣ το̣[ Μίδο]υ̣ καὶ τῶν παίδων· ἐγὼ δέ σοι ἀποδώ[σ]ομαι αὐτοὺς ὠνῆι καὶ πράσε[ι], ἵνα π̣ρ̣ῶτο̣ν̣ μὲν μηδείς [σ]ε̣ []νοχ[λ] [μ̣η]δὲ διαφθείρ[] τὸν π̣[α]̣δα, [π̣]ε[ι]τ̣’ αὐτοὶ μ̣̣ ̣γχειρῶσι π̣[ο]νηρε[ύ]εσθαι μηδὲν διὰ τὸν φόβ̣[ον]. τὸ δὲ μέγιστον· νῦν μὲν ἂν δόξειαν διἐμὲ γεγονέναι ἐλεύθεροι· ἐὰν δὲ πριάμενος σὺ ὠνῆι καὶ πράσει εἶθὕστερον, ὅτε ἄν σοι δοκῆι, ἀφῆις αὐτοὺς ἐλευθέρους, διπλασίαν ἕξουσίν σοι τὴν χάριν. (Ath. 5-6)

You, he said, intend to pay money for the freedom of Midas and his sons. But I will sell them to you to own as slaves, in order that no one should trouble you and seduce the boy first, and so that they themselves might not attempt bad behaviour for fear [of you their master]. And most important of all: now they will think they have become free on account of me. But if you buy them to own as slaves, and later, whenever it seems right to you, you make them free, they will have twice the χάρις for you.

According to the speaker, Athenogenes claimed that Midas and his sons would not be under any official obligation to the plaintiff, if the plaintiff were to purchase their freedom. In fact, he would have no more authority over the released slaves than anyone else, making it easy for others to interfere with the speaker’s plans to have his way with the young son. If, however, he were to purchase them as slaves and then liberate them (ἀφῆις αὐτοὺς ἐλευθέρους), they would owe him twice the χάρις and thus be more obliged to him as their manumittor38. The passage suggests that when a slave’s freedom is bought, the purchaser has no control over the now freed slave. What distinguishes the two types of manumission (outlined here) is the indebtedness of the slave freed directly by a master. The text suggests the expectation that a freed slave owed something to his ex-master. In contrast, the slave freed by a third party appears to have little or no obligation to the purchaser or ex-master. The text, however, does not make clear what WAS owed the ex-owner and how official or legal such obligations were – only that χάρις was greater when a slave was freed directly by a master. Is χάρις more than simply gratitude?

An important source of evidence for legal obligations between slaves and manumittors are the inscriptions known as the “Attic Manumissions,” erected on the Athenian acropolis between 330 and 322 BCE (roughly contemporary with Hyperides’ speech)39. The inscriptions list dedications of φιάλαι (libation bowls), and typically include personal name (x) in the nominative, his or her deme of residence, the participle ἀποφυγών (having escaped), followed by a second personal name (y) (along with patronymic and deme if a citizen) in the accusative, and finally the weight of the bowl40. Frequently the occupation of x is also added. Most scholars accept the interpretation of H Schenkal, who suggested the bowls were dedicated after acquittal in a δίκη ἀποστασίου41, a lawsuit in which a manumitted slave is accused of “leaving” the manumittor, registering a προστάτης (legal protector) other than the manumittor, or failing to abide by the requirements of the law42. Recently, however, Elizabeth Meyer has argued that the φιάλαι-inscriptions have nothing to do with manumission and the δίκη ἀποστασίου, but relate to the γραφή ἀπροστασίου, trials in which a metic is accused of avoiding the μετοίκιον (metic tax) and the requirement of having a προστάτης43. Meyer’s arguments have received some criticism, but as Meyer herself points out, her argument “is complicated and, necessarily, speculative – but less speculative than the easy assumptions about relations of masters and freedmen, made over a hundred years ago, that have underpinned the equally complicated interpretation of the φιάλαι-inscriptions ever since” (10)44. She points out she is not the first to reconstruct ἀπροστασίου instead of ἀποστασίου – the suggestion was originally put forth by S. D. Koumanoudes in 187945. If Meyer is correct that the φιάλαι-inscriptions do not relate to manumission at all, then, in Meyer’s own words, “it is remarkable... how downright thin the evidence in Athens for full Roman-style manumission of slaves with lasting and serious obligations towards the former master – which has long been deduced from these inscriptions – can be seen to be” (10). Meyer effectively questions these inscriptions as a source for manumission and, in paticular, obligations between ex-owners and their slaves46.

Scholars also look to the Delphic manumission inscriptions, dating from the second century BCE to the first century CE, as a way to illuminate the manumission practices of classical Athens47. A. R. W. Harrison, for example, comments that, “There is much epigraphic evidence for conditions of various kinds laid upon freedmen at the time of their manumission, but unfortunately it comes for the most part from places other than Athens. We can, however, be fairly confident that the pattern in Athens showed much the same variations as elsewhere”48. R. Zelnick-Abramovitz, for example, argues that the purchaser in a third party release “imposed some obligations” on the freed slave (although less than in a direct release) based on these inscriptions49. But this conclusion is too easy an assumption. Evidence for παραμονή-conditions on slaves in classical Greece and in Athens in particular is lacking (only some unverifiable wills of philosophers in Diogenes Laertius). Furthermore, the inscriptions free the slave by placing him or her in the charge of the god Apollo. Evidence for sacral manumission, however, is also lacking in the case of classical Athens50. These omissions on the part of the Athenian evidence suggest differences between the manumission practices of these two poleis rather than similarities. It is thus misleading to assume that the Delphic inscriptions reflect the practices of two or three hundred years earlier in classical Athens. Evidence for formal “conditions” imposed on the manumitted slave in classical Athens is thus scant indeed.

[Demosthenes] 59 suggests further that legal limitations on Neaira varied little from those of metics. She meets Stephanos while working in Megara and eventually returns to Athens with him after having been away for two years ([Dem.] 59.36-38). The text states that she placed herself under the protection of Stephanos (προΐσταται Στέφανον τουτονὶ αὑτῆς), suggesting that he likely stood as her προστάτης, her protector51. It is commonly accepted that the protector of a manumitted slave is the ex-master52, but a slave manumitted through the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ does not appear to follow this pattern. In the case of [Demosthenes] 59, Neaira appears to be able to choose her προστάτης, like someone of metic status. Was Phrynion ever her προστάτης? Phrynion likely served as her protector in Athens, but she easily leaves for Megara when dissatisfied with him and returns to Athens with Stephanos as προστάτης. When Phrynion hears Neaira is back in Athens, he seizes her as if a runaway slave53. If he were legally her protector and she were legally under obligation to him, then it would have made more sense for him to prosecute Neaira with a δίκη ἀποστασίου for illegally registering someone else as her προστάτης54. If she were found guilty of such an offence, she would automatically revert to slave status. Since Phrynion does not charge her with a δίκη ἀποστασίου, our assumption must be that Phyrnion is not legally considered her manumittor and not automatically her προστάτης.

Having a protector or sponsor was a requirement of law in Athens for both metics and freed slaves55. In the case of Neaira, the προστάτης chosen was her long term lover and this situation may have been common when the manumitted slave was a prostitute. Such a sponsor appears necessary as a way to guarantee status, since the standing of such persons was open to question and thus such persons were easily exploitable. Upon Neaira’s return to Athens, as we have seen, Phrynion seizes her and leads her off as if a runaway slave ([Dem.] 59.40). The verb ἄγειν (to lead) is a legal term here referring to the seizure of a runaway slave56. In response, Stephanos declares her free according to the law. The actual phrasing is ἀφαιρουμένου δὲ τοῦ Στεφάνου κατὰ τὸν νόμον εἰς ἐλευθερίαν (with Stephanos removing [her] into freedom according to the law), repeated with a variation on this formula in section 45 (ἀφείλετο Νέαιραν ταυτηνὶ εἰς ἐλευθερίαν [he took this Neaira here away into freedom])57. Phrynion reacts by bringing a charge against Neaira before the Polemarch. Their mutual friends, however, convince Phrynion and Stephanos to try arbitration. During the arbitration, Phrynion, Stephanos AND Neaira (called here αὐτὴ ἄνθρωπος [the creature herself]) narrate their view of events. In the end, the arbitrators verify that Neaira, called again an ἄνθρωπος, is ἐλευθέρα (free) and αὐτὴ αὑτὴ κυρία (κυρία of herself, that is, her own mistress) ([Dem.] 59.46). What exactly κυρία of herself means is unclear because a term of the reconciliation is that Neaira split her time between Stephanos and Phrynion58. Likely it refers to her legal status and means that no one is able to sell her into slavery; she is no longer anyone’s property. A final conclusion we can draw is that Neaira has no conditions on her freedom (and in fact seems never to have). As an unconditionally freed slave, she would attain the status of metic in Athens59. But the fact that she appears to be able to choose her προστάτης makes her unique compared to other freed slaves, whether conditionally or unconditionally freed, for whom the ex-owner was normally the protector60. Is this difference explained by Neaira’s release in Corinth? Or are Neaira and all slaves released into freedom via the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ an exception to this rule on how the προστάτης is appointed? Furthermore, are slaves freed by the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ legally exempt from any obligations to the ex-master and thus closer in status to the freeborn metic than other freed slaves? Would such ex-slaves pay the τριώβολον (three obol tax) in addition to the μετοίκιον (metic tax)61? While the anecdotal nature of the narrative makes these questions difficult to answer conclusively, they do expose the limits of our knowledge of freed slaves in classical Athens and raise doubts about what scholars do accept regarding the rights, privileges and obligations of freed slaves, and, in particular, those released through the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ. Manumitted slaves might feel obliged to show gratitude and ex-masters might have informal expectations for their ex-slaves, but it is not at all certain that masters (with the support of law) imposed “conditions” on the freedom of ex-slaves in classical Athens.

Attitudes toward the πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

While orators in particular make mention of freeing prostitutes, it is not likely because prostitutes are the most common type of manumission. In every example, the procedure is associated with the speaker’s adversary. In no case is the manumission seen as justified or worthwhile. It is simply another extravagance intended to smear the character of an opponent. Certainly the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ was an expensive undertaking: Herodotus reports that Charaxos paid a large sum of money (χρημάτων μεγάλων) to free Rhodopis. As we have already seen, 20 minas was what was paid for Neaira’s freedom ([Dem.] 59.30). Hyperides also paid 20 minas to free his prostitute-lover62. The practice is perhaps considered even more excessive because, as argued above, the manumitted prostitute appears under no legal obligation to the redeemer: the purchaser may get nothing for his money and effort. Further expense was likely necessary. Following manumission, the prostitute is frequently kept in clothes and jewels by the lover – thereby making the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ not simply a one-time expense. After Neaira’s manumission Phrynion buys jewels and clothes for her and likely provides her with the two female attendants she takes along with her when she leaves Athens and travels to Megara ([Dem] 59.35). While we do not know what Olympiodoros paid to free his hetaira, he certainly kept her in expensive clothes and well provided with attendants ([Dem.] 48.53). Orators do not merely highlight the cost, but also suggest it is only extravagant and irresponsible individuals who pay to free prostitutes. In the course of the narrative on Neaira, Apollodoros emphasizes the licentiousness and luxury of Phrynion’s lifestyle (ἀσελγῶς δὲ καὶ πολυτελῶς διάγοντα τὸν βίον [living wantonly and extravagantly]) and comments that such behavior was well known ([Dem.] 59.30). The speaker of [Demosthenens] 48 contrasts the upkeep of Olympiodoros’ prostitute with the poverty of Olympiodoros’ female relatives, highlighting the injustice of their treatment in comparison to the treatment of the “hetaira” (55). Apollodoros’ freeing of a hetaira is one more proof of Apollodoros’ profligate lifestyle (Dem. 36.45). Isocrates sums up the problem when he states that young men are buying the freedom (λυσόμενοι) for twenty and thirty minas of “women intent upon joining them in destroying their remaining property” with their debauchery and extravagance (15.287-88). The only positive spin on the freeing of a prostitute is the story of Phaedo, who is supposedly of noble birth and working as a prostitute after being enslaved as a war captive. His freedom enables him to devote himself full time to philosophy and so his freeing is easily justified (D.L. 2.105).

In addition to the extravagance associated with the purchase of a prostitute’s freedom, orators characterize the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ as a selfish act and the result of a diseased mind. References to the practice highlight passion and desire as the impetus, instead of rational consideration. Freeing a slave in this way implies a lack of self-control, questions the stability of the purchaser and suggests a capacity to do harm to others. The speaker, Callistratus, for example, draws attention to Olympiodoros’ freeing of a “hetaira” as a way to question his opponent’s stability in [Demosthenes] 48.53-54:

Ὀλυμπιόδωρος γὰρ οὑτοσί, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί, γυναῖκα μὲν ἀστὴν κατὰ τοὺς νόμους τοὺς ὑμετέρους οὐδεπώποτε ἔγημεν, οὐδ’ εἰσὶν αὐτῷ παῖδες οὐδὲ ἐγένοντο, ἑταίραν δὲ λυσάμενος ἔνδον ἔχει, καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ λυμαινομένη ἅπαντας ἡμᾶς καὶ ποιοῦσα τουτονὶ περαιτέρω μαίνεσθαι. πῶς γὰρ οὐ μαίνεται ὅστις οἴεται δεῖν, ἃ μὲν ὡμολόγησεν καὶ συνέθετο ἑκὼν πρὸς ἑκόντα καὶ ὤμοσεν, τούτων μὲν μηδ’ ὁτιοῦν ποιεῖν.

For, fellow jurors, this man Olympiodoros has never married an Athenian woman in accordance with your laws; he has no children and has never had any, but having purchased freedom for a “hetaira,” he keeps her as his mistress at his home. She is the one ruining us all and impelling him into a higher state of lunacy. For how is he not insane if he thinks it unnecessary to honour any of the things which he promised and readily agreed upon and swore to?

Callistratus emphasizes the madness of Olympiodoros with the use of μαίνεσθαι, a strong verb indicating a person not at all in control of his senses. It is a term used to describe the madness induced by an external force like wine (Od. 18.406, 21.298) or even a god (Il. 6.132; Hdt. 4.79; Paus. 2.7.5). In the case of Olympiodoros, the speaker suggests he is controlled by his mistress, who has driven him mad with passion (see also 48.56). She was able to manipulate Olympiodoros in this state to the extent that he purchased her freedom. She is not presented as worthy of freedom (48.55), however, and is in fact directly contrasted with the free female relatives of Olympiodoros, whose sister is in fact married to Callistratus. Olympiodoros is thus treating his mistress better than the free women in his family. Rather than spending money on freeing the mistress and keeping her in expensive clothes and jewels, he should be helping his poor relations. The speaker further emphasizes that all the friends and relatives of Olympiodoros consider him melancholy (μελαγχολᾶν δοκῶν) (48.56). Μελάγχολος is a technical term indicating an excess of black bile in the body. In Hippocratic medicine, the four humours had to be balanced and an excess of one humour required immediate attention (Diseases IV.1). Untreated, the excess humour could cause disease, including mental illness: Epidemics connects being mad with an excess of black bile (μαινόμενος δὲ ὑπὸ χολῆς μελαίνης) (5.1.2). The speaker thus uses the verb μελαγχολᾶν here to suggest that it is a mental disease that has put Olympiodoros under the influence of this woman63. His freeing and continued support of her is the result of his diseased mind. These accusations come at the end of the speech and the speaker intends them to affect the jurors’s opinion of Olympiodoros and his mental state. The mention of λυσάμενος (having bought the freedom of) in this context highlights the questionable nature of such an action, including its motive.

Youthful folly is presented as another motivating factor behind such manumissions. Young men succumbing to their desire for a prostitute and then ruining themselves on such women is a common stereotype, since youths are still learning to develop their ἐγκράτεια (the self-control so essential to male adulthood)64. In Isaeus 3, the speaker comments how young men (νέοι ἄνθρωποι) lusting after (ἐπιθυμήσαντες) hetairai and lacking self-control (ἀκρατῶς ἔχοντες αὑτῶν) do serious harm to themselves on account of their lack of judgment (ὑπἀνοίας) (16-17). The speaker of Lysias 4 accuses his opponent of being sick with love (δύσερως) for the prostitute so that he does her bidding (4.8). Purchasing a prostitute’s freedom is presented as a negative outcome of such infatuations. In fact, Isocrates claims such behavior is an epidemic (15.287-88) and a sign of the corruption of his times that such youthful folly is largely ignored. This same attitude appears in Greek literature more generally. According to Herodotus, the archaic poet Sappho harshly criticized her brother Charaxos for freeing Rhodopis (2.135). In a comic reversal, the father, Philokleon, promises a flute girl that as soon as his son dies, he will purchase her freedom for her (Ar. Vesp. 1352-9):

ἐὰν γένῃ δὲ μὴ κακὴ νυνὶ γυνή,
ἐγώ σ’ ἐπειδὰν οὑμὸς υἱὸς ἀποθάνῃ,
λυσάμενος ἕξω παλλακήν, ὦ χοιρίον.
νῦν δ’ οὐ κρατῶ ’γὼ τῶν ἐμαυτοῦ χρημάτων·
νέος γάρ εἰμι. καὶ φυλάττομαι σφόδρα (1355)
τὸ γὰρ υἵδιον τηρεῖ με, κἄστι δύσκολον
κἄλλως κυμινοπριστοκαρδαμογλύφον.
ταῦτ’ οὖν περί μου δέδοικε μὴ διαφθαρῶ·
πατὴρ γὰρ οὐδείς ἐστιν αὐτῷ πλὴν ἐμοῦ.

If you should treat me well now, my little darling, I will purchase your freedom and keep you as my girl once my son dies. But currently I don’t control my property. For I am young and I am carefully watched. My little son keeps a close eye on me. He is both fretful and exceedingly cheap. As a result, he worries that I might be ruined. He has no other father but me you see.

In this example, the father (Philokleon) fulfills the stereotype of the unreliable youth and the son (Bdelukleon) takes on the role of the responsible father figure, who keeps the youth under control. Philokleon makes it clear in his speech that if Bdelukleon is not strict with him, the father will squander the family fortune on the flute-girl/prostitute. Philokleon explains to the girl that he is young, thereby associating himself with the recklessness and excessive behaviour of youth65. Comic sex slaves, in turn, are eager to exploit these vulnerable young men to obtain their freedom. In Menander’s Epitrepontes, the young man Charisios pays a pimp 12 drachmas a day for the slave prostitute Habrotonon (136). Habrotonon, however, complains that Charisios ignores her. She makes clear that she thought Charisios would love her, but instead, does not even like her sitting beside him on his drinking couch (432-35). He has never had sex with her (440-1). She soon reveals the cause of her disappointment: she is longing to be free (541, 548) and had clearly hoped Charisios would purchase her freedom out of desire and longing for her. Her fellow slave, Onesimos, reveals to the audience that when Habrotonon realized it was not possible to earn her freedom this way, she came up with another means of reaching her goal (557-60). He calls her a shrewd little woman (τοπαστικὸν τὸ γύναιον) and associates her cleverness with scheming by stating he himself would never have the forethought (προνοητικὸς) for such things (561-62). Habrotonon is represented as motivated by self-interest alone. It appears to be an accepted stereotype that young men will fall into the clutches of scheming prostitutes, who will ask for everything, including their freedom, even though it might ruin a young man.

Plautus and the πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

The example of Plautus’ Mostellaria 66is instructive, since through it we get the reconstructed perspective of a youth, a freed prostitute and a female pimp-like character on the sex slave’s obligations after manumission (lines 186-247). The recently freed Philematium has no end of praise for her young man Philolaches, who has freed her (liberare)67. She expresses gratitude and calls Philolaches her little darling (literally, my little eye (meus ocellus)) (167), explaining later that she wishes to please him alone in exchange for his act of freeing her (204-5, 214-15, 220-21). The well-experienced Scapha (170-1, 270, 279), in contrast, argues that now that Philematium is free (libera), exactly what Philematium desired, she should not be so naïve as to devote herself to Philolaches alone (188-90). She reminds Philematium of her status as prostitute (meretrix) and warns her not to play the part of a faithful wife (matrona) (190). Eventually Philolaches will abandon her (te ille deseret) (196) and she will have nothing (216-17, 224-26, 235-36). While Philematium uses terminology associated with the legal act of manumission, referring to Philolaches as “my patron” (meus patronus) (167) and employing the verb “to free” (liberare) (204), Scapha refers to him as her “friend” (amicus) and “benefactor” (benevolens) (195). She calls her free (libera) and NOT “freed” (liberta) at the same time as she highlights that Philematium is under no obligation to Philolaches despite his role in freeing her (210).

Scapha’s response goes against what we know of Roman manumission practices in which freed slaves had to fulfill certain obligations to their manumittor68. As in the previous Greek examples, Philolaches does not free her as her owner, but appears to have purchased her freedom for a large sum of money (211), leaving himself with “nothing” (nihil) (207; see also 233-34). He eventually reveals a price of thirty minas (300) – typical in the case of a very valuable slave prostitute. His motivation for the purchase is not rational, but, as he freely admits, a result of his love (amor) and passion (cupido) for Philematium (162-66). The purchase is clearly a gift in order to win Philematium’s devotion and affection. In 184, he expresses concern and anger that Scapha refers to his love for Philematium, but not Philematium’s love for him. Later he rejoices because he thinks Philematium truly loves him (242-43). But Scapha demonstrates how such a gift is no guarantee of affection. Philolaches only has the hope of Philematium’s gratitude and favour in return for his purchase – such gratitude does not appear to be her legal obligation. Although a Roman example, the play is based on a Greek original (by either Philemon or Theognetus) and in this particular case appears to reflect Greek practices rather than Roman69.

Philematium’s response to her manumission is clearly idealized (a product of male fantasy), representing the best case scenario for the generous lover; whereas Scapha’s attitudes model the gritty reality of the prostitute making a living for herself. Philolaches’ commentary throughout the dialogue highlights their contrasting viewpoints, making clear which perspective he favours, and makes the scene comic. His responses, although amusing, suggest that lovers freed slave prostitutes out of affection with the hope of attaining their devotion and mutual affection. The scene ends with the perfect male fantasy: Philematium cooing to Philolaches about her desire to please him and her willingness to go along with whatever he wants (293-96). Philolaches concludes he has spent his money well (241-42, 302, 305-6). But the prologue (esp. 22-33), Philolaches’ own opening monologue (84-156) and the events that unfold suggest otherwise. Less costly and just as (if not more) effective might be the simple promising of freedom, as Philolaches does the flute girl in Aristophanes’ play, Wasps (1348-53).

Conclusion

Although no number can be reached as to the frequency of the freeing of prostitutes compared to other slaves, when we hear about their manumission, it is commonly through a procedure in which a third party purchased the slave’s freedom from her master – known to scholars as the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ. The accounts of the practice in Attic oratory, even though anecdotal, contain enough similarities to allow for some conclusions. In such a procedure, the owner appears to relinquish any formal connection to the prostitute, while the purchaser does not take on the role of manumittor. In terms of the official obligations and legal status of such a freed slave, we are on less firm ground given the nature of the evidence. But the examples from oratory suggest that slaves freed in this manner had no formal conditions on their freedom. It is possible that prostitutes obtaining freedom in this way were able to choose their own protectors, just like metics, and would most likely choose their current lover for such a function. In contrast, in cases where a prostitute was freed directly by a master, she might continue to work in the sex trade as a sex trafficker under the auspices of her ex-owner, who presumably reaped the benefits. While these texts appear to support arguments for different classes of “freed,” specifics on conditions attached to manumission remain elusive70.

Oratory, along with comedy, reveals something about the ancient view of this type of manumission. The cultural attitude toward the purchasing of a prostitute’s freedom by a third party is clearly negative, since orators refer to the practice as a way to denigrate an opponent and highlight its extravagance and expense. The cost (as recorded in the literary sources) limits the practice of πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ to wealthier citizens. We do not know how common an occurrence the practice was overall. A lover moved to purchase the freedom of a prostitute, however, is presented as a valid familial and societal concern in both oratory and comedy on account of the cost. While the emphasis is on the financial expense of such an undertaking, the accounts also highlight the purchaser’s extravagance, irresponsibility, lack of self-control and even irrationality in indulging in such a practice. Such social stigma may have curtailed the practice.

One simple explanation for the implementation of this procedure is the owner’s desire for profit (or to recover the original outlay for the slave), since the financial cost of the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ appears to know no limits and is not necessarily less than the purchase price of the slave. Affection for the slave on the part of the master may have influenced whether or not the master allowed another to purchase the slave’s freedom as opposed to purchasing her as a slave. In some cases a master might allow such manumission and freedom as a parting favour for a personal sex slave. The slave herself may have actively sought freedom and convinced a regular customer to purchase it for her. Most importantly, desire for mutual affection likely influenced the purchaser of her freedom. His willingness to pay the cost of freedom attests to his attachment and fondness for the slave, since the purchaser does not appear to gain any legal hold on the freed prostitute or any enforceable guarantee of sexual access. Informal obligations, as a show of personal gratitude (χάρις), may have been expected. But to whom was gratitude owed? Such prostitutes likely honoured the redeemer with χάρις, but what exactly that represents remains unclear. The redeemer might intend to co-habit with the woman or at least expect exclusive use of her and the woman may have no financial independence to merit an alternative. Despite obtaining freedom, prostitutes likely remained dependent on male clients who purchased their freedom.

Such freedwomen inhabit a grey area between commodity and gift exchange71. As slave prostitutes their bodies and services are exchanged for a negotiated price. But as freed, they have obtained the ultimate gift a slave can expect: freedom72. Who is the gift giver in the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ triangle? While the master allows the slave to obtain freedom, it appears that the more important post-slavery relationship is that of the ex-slave and the purchaser of her freedom, suggesting that this freedom is a gift of the purchaser and likely merits some reciprocity. The cycle of gift exchange continued with the purchaser frequently gifting the freed slave with jewels, clothes and even her own personal slaves in the hopes of sexual access and her continued cooperation/affection. At the same time, the orators’ focus on the high cost of freedom construes the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ as a material exchange and exposes the relationship for what it is: a prostitute-client relationship. It demonstrates both the complexity and vulnerability of sexual relationships negotiated in the public sphere.

 

* * *

 

Table 1: Instances of Manumission (6th to 4th Century BCE) in Literary Sources

Master/ex-master

Slave

Gender

Freed by

Occupation

Procedure

Source

Iadmon; Xanthes of Samos

Rhodopis

F

Kharaxos

hetaira

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

Hdt. 2.135;

Nikarete; Timanoridas and Eukrates

Neaira

F

Phrynion

hetaira

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

[Dem.] 59.20, 29-32

?

Unnamed female

F

Olympiodoros

hetaira

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

[Dem.] 48.53

?

Unnamed female

F

Apollodoros

hetaira

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

Dem. 36.45

?

Dardanis

F

Philokleon (promises freedom)

αὐλητρίς
(flute player)

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

Ar. Vesp. 1352-53

?

Phila

F

Hyperides

hetaira

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

Ath. 13.590d, [Plu.] Mor. 849d, FGrH 338 F14

Freedwoman of Euctemon

Alce

F

Euctemon?

παιδίσκη & πορνοβοσκοῦσα

?

Isae. 6.19

Euctemon

Unnamed female

F

Euctemon

πορνοβοσκοῦσα

?

Isae. 6.19

Charisios

Nikarete

F

Charisios

πορνοβοσκοῦσα

?

[Dem.] 59.18

Nikarete

Anteia

F

?

παιδίσκη

?

[Dem.] 59.20

Nikarete

Stratola

F

?

παιδίσκη

?

[Dem.] 59.20

Nikarete

Aristocleia

F

?

παιδίσκη

?

[Dem.] 59.20

Nikarete

Metaneira

F

?

παιδίσκη

?

[Dem.] 59.20

Nikarete

Phila

F

?

παιδίσκη

?

[Dem.] 59.20

Nikarete

Isthmias

F

?

παιδίσκη

?

[Dem.] 59.20

?

Unnamed female

F

?

prostitute

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ?

Lys. 4.1, 5, 8, 10, 12

?

Phaedo

M

Alcibiades or Crito

prostitute

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ

D.L. 2.105

Athenogenes

Midas and two sons

M

Epikrates?

perfumer & prostitutes?

?

Hyp. Ath. 5-6

?

Dion

M

?

?

?

Isae. 6.20

Antithenes

Alkias

M

Antithenes

farmer

?

Lys. 8.10

Agesidas?

Alcman?

M

Agesidas?

house slave and poet?

?

Arist. Fr. 372 Rose

father of Demosthenes

Milyas

M

Master

foreman of sword factory

Private verbal declaration (on deathbed)

Dem. 29.25-26, 27.19

Iadmon

Aesop

M

Iadmon

story teller

private by master

Hdt. 2.134

Father of speaker

Unnamed female

F

Father of speaker

τίτθη (nurse)

private by master

Dem. 47.55-56

?

Eumathes

M

Epigenes

banker

openly released in the court

Isae. Frag. 18

Archestratus & Antisthenes

Pasion

M

Archestratus & Antisthenes

banker

private by master

Dem. 36.46, 48

Pasion

Phormion

M

Pasion

banker

private by master

Dem. 36.46, 48

Antisthenes

Alcias

M

?

?

private by master

Lys. 7.10

Pythagoras

Salmoxis

M

Pythagoras

?

private by master

Hdt. 4.95

Themistocles

Sicinnus

M

Themistocles

παιδαγωγός

private by master

Hdt. 8.75

Nicias

Unnamed male

M

Nicias

?

Proclamation in theater

Plu. Nic. 3.3

Nikokles and Antikles

Agoratos

M

Nikokles and Antikles?

?

?

Lys. 13.91

Unnamed Pimp

Habrotonon

F

Charisios?

hetaira

πρᾶσις ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ?

Men. Epit. 557-60

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Notes

1 The speaker’s name is possibly Epikrates. See Whitehead 2000: 266 and 327. Return to text

I’d like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments as well as audiences at the Classics Department Research Seminar Series (Brock University) and at the annual meeting of the Classical Association of Canada (Dalhousie University), for their feedback on early drafts of this paper.

2 The order of the speeches of Hyperides remains uncertain. See the comments on numbering in Whitehead 2000: xiii-xiv. I follow Whitehead in abbreviating the speech as Ath. and by including chapter numbers, as opposed to column numbers. Return to text

3 See Whitehead 2000: 292. Return to text

4 For recent summaries of the scholarship of the inscriptions see Kamen 2005: 26-32, Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 282-92 and Meyer 2010: 17-28. See also note 40 below. Return to text

5 See Todd 1990: 159, 168, 171. While the use of the Attic orators in historical studies has increased since Todd made his point, this source is still only given brief discussion in manumission studies. Return to text

6 See Todd 1990: 173. Return to text

7 See also the discussion on literary sources in Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 62-63, 65-67. Return to text

8 For a summary of Greek manumission practices see Fisher 1995: 67-70 and Kamen 2013: 32-33. For in-depth discussion see the comprehensive study by Calderini 1908: 91-142, as well as Gibson 1999: 30-55, Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 69-99 and Kamen 2005: xx-xxii, 2-55. Return to text

9 For recent discussions of Greek terminology for manumission see Kamen 2005: 2-6 and Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 99-126. Return to text

10 Evidence for classical Athens comes from the wills of classical philosophers recounted in Diogenes Laertius (e.g. 3.42, 5.15, 5.55, 5.73, 10.21), third century CE. Many testamentary manumissions (aside from Athens) are recorded in inscriptions. See Calderini 1908: 131-34. Return to text

11 πρᾶσις ἐπὶ λύσει is used in inscriptions to indicate land given as security for a loan and thus indicates a fictitious sale, since the land returns to the owner once the loan is paid back. See Harris 1988 and Todd 1993: 253-55. According to Zelnick-Abramovitz, there is nothing fictitious about the sale in the case of slaves (2005: 81). In contrast see Kamen, who argues that such sales were “something of a fiction: it was a means of manumission whereby a third party, ostensibly buying the slave, actually paid for the slave’s freedom” (2005: 7). Return to text

12 See Foucart 1896: 22 and Kamen 2005: 9. Return to text

13 One exception may be Aesop (Vita Aesopi G 90 Perry). See Zelnick-Abramovitz (2005: 82). Return to text

14 See also Athenaeus 13.590d. Return to text

15 Unlike the earlier examples, Antigone is in fact directly named a πορνοβοσκοῦσα (female sex trafficker) (Ath. 3). The only other instance of this term in classical texts is Ar. Pax 849. Return to text

16 See Whitehead 2000: 288-9. Cf. Ath. 7 and 24. Return to text

17 See Kapparis 1999: 261. Return to text

18 Harrison argues that the trial of Neaira does not illuminate Athenian practices with regard to manumission, but does acknowledge that Neaira’s status as freed was recognized in Athens (1968: 183). See also Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 66 who poses the question as to whether this account is more about practices in Corinth or Athens. Apollodoros, however, gets quite detailed for his Athenian audience and assumes his audience will be familiar with the practices he is talking about. In addition, much of the narrative relates to Neaira’s status in Athens and for this reason her status post-manumission must be accurate for Athens. Return to text

19 On the uncertainty of the status of Neaira see Hunter 1994: 113, Foxhall 1996: 151 and Glazebrook 2005 and 2006. Return to text

20 On παιδίσκαι see Glazebrook 2011: 41, 49-50. Return to text

21 See Kamen 2005: 7-8, 2013: 32-33 and Kapparis 1999: 232-33. Return to text

22 2005: 82, 221, 294-95. Return to text

23 See Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 220; Tucker 1982: 225-36, esp. 227-8; Finley 1985 (Orig. 1951): 100-106; Cohen 1992: 207-15. Return to text

24 See Finley 1985 (Orig. 1951): 105. Return to text

25 1999: 231-32. Return to text

26 Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 108. She also suggests here that Nikarete has a close connection with her past master, but puts her master in Elis. There is no reason, however, for Charisios not to live in Corinth. In fact the text states that Nikarete is the wife of his cook, Hippias ([Dem.] 59.19), and this fact makes more sense if Charisios has a residence in Corinth. On ἀπελεύθεροι in general see 107-20. Return to text

27 There is much debate surrounding the Greek terms for ex-slaves: ἀπελεύθερος and ἐξελεύθερος. Zelnick-Abramovitz argues that the terms indicate that the slave will never be fully integrated into the community in which she lived as a slave (2010: 102). Scholars also suggest a distinction between ἀπελεύθερος and ἐξελεύθερος, but what such a distinction entailed is hard to pin point. A. R. W. Harrison argues that ἐξελεύθερος refers to an ex-slave who was at one point free, but enslaved through debt-bondage, for example, or capture by war. Zelnick-Abramovitz argues that the ἀπελεύθερος is closer to slavery because of the obligations of the freed slave to the ex-master, whereas the ἐξελεύθερος has less obligations to an ex-master and thus is closer to the free person (2005: 106). Her argument is based on the evidence of Pollux, who comments that at Athens there were different laws for ἀπελεύθεροι versus ἐξελεύθεροι (3.83). Zelnick-Abramovitz concludes that if such a distinction existed, it is highly significant and would suggest sub-categories among the freed with each category possessing different rights and obligations. She even goes so far as to suggest that the ἐξελεύθεροι for example may be closer to citizen rather than metic status (2005: 104). Dimopoulou-Piliouni also argues for a distinction between the two (2011: 36-38). For a critique see Meyer 2010: 55 n. 154. Kamen accepts two categories of freed slaves – those conditionally freed and those unconditionally free – but does not associate these statuses with ἀπελεύθερος and ἐξελεύθερος (2013: 33-54). Return to text

28 Cf. Aeschin. 1.114; Dem. 27.19 (see further 29.25-26); Isae. 4.9, 6.19; Lys. 7.10, Frag. 437; But note the exception of Dion, who is called an ἀπελεύθερος without the name of an ex-owner in the genitive (Isae. 6.20). See the full discussion (including Roman period evidence) in Zelnick-Abramowitz 2005: 108-20. Return to text

29 See Zelnick-Abramowitz, “Although the phrase ‘[name of manumitted slave], the apeleutheros/a of [name in genitive]’ may simply mean that X was manumitted by Y, the fact that in most of its occurrences a continuous bond between ex-slave and ex-master can be inferred, and that exeleutheros is usually not employed in this grammatical construction, may imply that the apeleutheros still belonged in some way to the ex-master... Where apeleutheros is used absolutely, it is usually still possible to infer a persistent bond” (2005: 106). See also Gernet 1955: 169 n. 1. Return to text

30 See Glazebrook 2011: 50-51 on the possible managing structure of Athenian brothels. Return to text

31 According to Eleanor Dickey, ἄνθρωπος is a derogatory term that highlights the lack of blood relations for slave or freed status and emphasizes the secondary status of such persons (1996: 150-53). Also Gagarin (1997: 116) and Sosin (1997: 77) who comments that the terms is “reserved for women how are somehow unwomanly, as a result of physical, moral, or legal characteristics.” Return to text

32 On Alce as manumitted see Kamen 2005: 226-27 and Wyse 1904: 506. Return to text

33 Dimopoulou-Piliouni notes that specific evidence on παραμονή (legal obligation to an ex-master) comes from inscriptions outside of Athens. Wills of philosophers recorded in Diogenes Laertius (e.g. 5.5) suggest Athenians did know of and impose conditions on the freedom of their slaves (2011: 31). But the evidence is frustratingly sparse. Return to text

34 2005: 221, 244. Zelnick-Abramovitz even goes so far as to claim, “...she remained in his possession even after her manumission” (2005: 96, also 221) and argues more generally that, “money paid by a third party imposed some obligations on the manumitted slave” (2005: 218), but all the examples of support come from the Delphic manumission inscriptions. Return to text

35 See Kapparis, who states, “Whether the friend of the slave had some claim over him/her after manumission is doubtful.” 1999: 232-33. See also Meyer 2010: 25, n. 61. While Kamen agrees that the master relinquishes all authority and connection with the slave in this procedure, she is more cautious in accepting that the now free slave had no obligations to the purchaser (2005: 8 and n. 16). Return to text

36 Dimopoulou-Piliouni 2011 and Kamen 2013: 33, 42 argue for different sub-groups of freed slaves. Dimopoulou-Piliouni argues that it is the method of manumission and his or her obligations to the ex-owner that determine the status of a slave (2011: 49). Return to text

37 Although the focus of Book 2 is Egypt, Herodotus relates stories and facts of interest to his Greek audience and ignores Egyptian practices that would not resonate with Greeks. For example he makes no mention of divine kingship in his discussion of Egyptian pharaohs. See further Lloyd 2002: 424-26. The account of Rhodopis is particularly relevant to the discussion here given the fact that it discusses the freeing of a slave prostitute by a Greek from a Greek master. Herodotus also mentions Hellenes as his source for Rhodopis (2.134). In addition, Naukratis, where Rhodopis lives and works, was a Greek trading post in Egypt (Hdt. 2.178-9) and so this story is likely more about Greek practices than Egyptian. Return to text

38 On slaves and χάρις see Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 59. On this speech in particular see Davidson 1998: 99-100. Note that the speaker presents Athenogenes’ motivation for selling them as slaves as a ploy for getting out of his debts: he was not doing the speaker a favour at all. If he purchases them as slaves, rather than purchasing their freedom, he will be responsible for any debt associated with them (and in this case the debt is significant – five talents). The speaker, of course, may be manipulating events to get out of financial responsibilities from poor management of the perfumery (as Athenogenes appears to claim (Ath. 26)) (see also Davidson 2007: 449-50 and Whitehead 2000: 329), but the act of freeing versus purchasing a slave must still be accurate or otherwise the speaker would not be able to make any argument. Return to text

39 Originally published by David M. Lewis (1959 and 1968). For a recent re-examination and publication of the inscription with discussion and photographs see Meyer 2010: 81-144 and pls. 1-47. On the dating see Lewis 1968: 372 along with a new relative dating by Meyer 2010: 143-44. See also note 5 above. Return to text

40 For variations in the formula see Meyer 2010: 12-13. Return to text

41 1880: 213-18. See the summary in Kamen 2005: 30-32 and 2013: 39-40. For a detailed discussion of the δίκη ἀποστασίου along with the φιάλαι-inscriptions see Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 274-90. Some scholars consider the trials recorded as ficticious and interpret them as a procedure for manumission, but see Zelnick-Abramovitz’s critique of this theory (2005: 284-85). Return to text

42 Contemporary references to the δίκη ἀποστασίου are vague (Dem. 35.48-49 and Ath. Pol. 58.3). See instead Harpocration s.v. ἀποστασίου. Zelnick-Abramovitz notes that the offence of “leaving” is “obscure” (275), but offers the following interpretation: “leaving” is “breaking whatever bound the manumitted slave to his or her manumittor,” that is, violating “the conditions that manumittors attached to acts of manumission” (276). But she may be attributing too much meaning here based on her larger thesis that manumitted slaves are ‘not wholly free.’ Return to text

43 2010: 9-10, 22-28. The category metic does not exclude freed people from these inscriptions. Many scholars argue that all manumitted slaves in Athens attained metic status (but with some notable limitations). See Meyer 2010: 69 and further Harrison 1968: 187-88, Whitehead 1977: 114-16, MacDowell 1978: 82, Cohen 1992: 109-10, Klees 1998: 349-50. In contrast, see Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 308-15, Kamen 2005: 217-20, also 2013: 32-42 and Dimopoulu-Piliouni 2011: 30-36. Return to text

44 Against see Vlassopoulos 2011; In support see Harris 2012 and Papazarkadas 2012. Return to text

45 But Koumanoudes reconstructed it as a δίκη ἀποστασίου (1879: 528), rather than a γραφή. Cited in Meyer 2010: 72 and n. 207. Return to text

46 For careful consideration and critique of Meyer’s arguments see Zelnick-Abramovitz 2013: 94-105. Return to text

47 On the Delphic inscriptions see Foucart 1867 and Calderini 1908. More recently see Hopkins 1978: 133-71. On women in the inscriptions see Tucker 1982. On possible slave prostitutes in the inscriptions see Kamen 2014. Return to text

48 1968: 186. Gibson relies on inscriptional evidence in her chapter “Greek traditions of Manumission” (1999: 30). Return to text

49 2005: 218. Return to text

50 While Zelnick-Abramovitz assumes παραμονή-like obligations for Athens based on these inscriptions, she rejects the practice of sacral manumission for Athens (2005: 128). Return to text

51 On the προστάτης see Whitehead 1977: 89-92, Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 248-54 (on Neaira p. 253) and Kamen 2013: 47-48. Return to text

52 See Gernet 1955: 171, Harrison 1968: 185, Garlan 1988: 77 and Kamen 2013: 44. Return to text

53 See Kamen 2005: 8 n. 17. Zelnick-Abramovitz concludes that Phrynion’s action indicates he viewed Neaira as his personal slave because of her financial debt to him (2005: 295; see the critique by Meyers 2010: 25, n. 61), but his action more accurately demonstrates the vulnerability of a newly manumitted slave or any freed slave for that matter. Phrynion is attempting to get back at Neaira and also wants her as his personal sex slave. Cf. Aeschin. 1.62-63 on the vulnerability of even public slaves. In this case, Hegesandros claimed the public slave Pittalakos was his own personal slave. Claiming an individual as one’s slave is clearly a kind of tactic and not always genuine. See Kamen 2005: 118-21 and 2013: 33-36 on guarantees of freedom and legal procedures for the wrongly enslaved. Return to text

54 Meyer 2010: 25, n. 61. But note Zelnick-Abramovitz who avoids reaching a firm conclusion on who is Neaira’s rightful προστάτης stating that there is some confusion between the prosecutions of ἀφαίρεσις and the ἀποστασίου (2005: 253). For a detailed discussion of the δίκη ἀποστασίου and the ἀφαίρεσις εἰς ἐλευθερίαν (assertion of freedom) see Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 274-92 and 292-300. Return to text

55 On metics see Harrison 1968: 187-99, Whitehead 1977 and, more recently, Meyer 2010: 28-47 and Kamen 2013: 43-54. Return to text

56 Harrison 1968: 178-79 and Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 221. Return to text

57 For details on this procedure see Harrison 1968: 178-79; MacDowell 1978: 80 and Todd 1995: 187, 192. See also Kamen 2005: 125-34 (with some discussion of this example on pp. 129-30) and on the significance of this procedure (chapter 2). Return to text

58 The text does not make clear why Neaira had to split her time between two men. Does it indicate an obligation owed to both? If so, it is not related to her manumission, since Stephanos met Neaira when she was already freed and thus had no part in her attainment of freedom. More likely it is simply a means of reconciliation for the two men. As Kapparis argues, a female prostitute spending time with and being maintained by two men “did not create any exceptional situation.” Furthermore, the arbitrators add that the parties can agree to other arrangements at any time, suggesting that the recommendation was simply a way “to soften the wrath of Phrynion and relax the situation” (1999: 261). Return to text

59 The category metic does not exclude freed people. Many scholars argue that all manumitted slaves in Athens attained metic status (but with some notable limitations). See Meyer 2010: 69 and further Harrison 1968: 187-88, Whitehead 1977: 114-16, MacDowell 1978: 82, Cohen 1992: 109-10, Klees 1998: 349-50. In contrast, see Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005: 308-15, Kamen 2005: 217-20, also 2013: 32-42 and Dimopoulu-Piliouni 2011: 30-36. Return to text

60 See Harrison 1968: 184-86 and Kamen 2013: 44-45 on the rights (including the appointment of the προστάτης) of freed slaves. Note that Kamen, in addition, identifies unconditionally freed slaves as a sub-group of the category μέτοικοι (43). Return to text

61 Harp. s.v. μετοίκιον. Men paid 12 drachmas and women 6, unless her son paid the metic tax – in which case the woman was exempt. On manumitted slaves as acquiring the status of metics, see note 44 above. Note that Zelnick-Abramwitz argues instead that all freed slaves were inferior to metics in terms of status (2005: 128). See also Garlan, who argues “the situation of freedmen was... more precarious” (1988: 82). Return to text

62 The prices for hiring or purchasing slave prostitutes were variable, but this class of slave generally garnered the highest prices. See Loomis 1998: 166-85. See Kapparis 1999: 227 on prices of courtesans compared to other slaves. Return to text

63 Cusset 2014 argues that in Menander melancholia is a disease associated with lovesickness in particular (174) and concludes it refers to violent emotion as opposed to simply madness (177) and negatively affects the individual’s relation with the group (178). Return to text

64 On youth and self-control see Roisman 2005: 11-17. Return to text

65 Roman New comedy has a number of examples of young men who go to great lengths and expense to purchase the freedom of a prostitute. See Persa 34, Curculio, Pseudolus and Mercator. Return to text

66 Interpreting Roman new comedy, connected as it is to Greek new comedy, presents difficulties as well as disagreements among scholars: are the plays more Greek or more Roman? See Richlin 2005: 14. On the “Roman-ness” of these plays see James 2006: 225-26 and Halporn (1993: 191-213). Marshall uses Roman comedy to get at the “circumstantial details” of the Greek sex trade (2013: 178-79). Davidson also uses Plautus to illuminate Greek prostitution practices (1998: 122-36 and 2006: 39). Return to text

67 This passage in particular is thought to be a scene from the Greek original, but expanded by Plautus. See Melo 2011: 308-9. Watson argues such a manumission (of a son manumitting a female slave without parental consent) does not reflect Roman law and practices, but an Attic scenario (1967: 188 n. 8 and 198-99). Return to text

68 On Roman manumission practices see Watson 1967: 185-200, Hopkins 1978: 123-31, esp. p. 129-30, Bradley 1987: 81-112 as well as Andreau and Descat 2011: 152-56. Return to text

69 The confusion of terminology relating to manumission (particularly the use of libera throughout as opposed to liberta) supports the view that the freeing of Philematium here is more reflective of Greek practices than Roman. See also Watson in note 68 above. Return to text

70 For classes of freed slaves see Kamen 2013, chs. 3 and 4. Return to text

71 On prostitutes and commodity versus gift exchange see Davidson 1998: 109-12. Return to text

72 See Patterson, who notes that “release from slavery amounts to a classic instance of the anthropology of gift exchange” (1983: 211, see further 211-214). Return to text

References

Electronic reference

Allison Glazebrook, « The Erotics of Manumussion: Prostitutes and the πρᾶσις ἐπἐλευθερίᾳ », Eugesta [Online], 4 | 2014, Online since 01 janvier 2014, connection on 13 juillet 2024. URL : http://www.peren-revues.fr/eugesta/832

Author

Allison Glazebrook

Brock University
aglazebrook@brocku.ca

Copyright

CC-BY