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An alternative sexual morality for classical Athenians.

It is generally accepted that in classical Athens a widely proclaimed sexual morality expected citizen women not only to be chaste, confining sexual activity to marriage, but also to avoid any suspicion of improper contact with men.(1) While some recent works still suggest that Athenian citizen women did conform to their society's expectations, and even that women lived in seclusion to promote chastity,(2) others have long recognized that Athenian women showed a wider range of behaviour and, sometimes at least, had sexual liaisons with men other than their husbands.(3) It is unfortunate that the most vigorous statement of the view that significant numbers of Athenian women did not in practice accept their society's constraints, an article by Richter in 1971,(4) while containing much of value, weakens its own case by overstatement: few can accept, for instance, that in classical Athens `the young wives were as undisciplined a bevy of nymphs as Hellas ever reared'. Nonetheless it seems clear that Athenian women (and of course Athenian men) breached the sexual code commonly proclaimed in their society. It is the purpose of this paper to consider how widespread such breaches were, and in what spirit they were undertaken, whether purely as guilty acts or as behaviour that was at least condoned by an alternative morality.(5)

The view that Athenian women were too secluded to have social contacts which might lead to affairs has recently been losing support, and Cohen(6) offered a valuable new contribution to the argument by considering how Athenian women might have manipulated the requirements of their society's sexual code. To make the point Cohen drew on patterns of behaviour in modern Mediterranean societies which seek to impose comparable limits on female sexuality. One of the more obvious examples is from the Lebanese village Harouch, where mothers claim that daughters never leave the house, but one girl dumps a full water-jar behind the stables so that she can fetch more water from the water-tower while the boy she likes is on the road. Cohen's very illuminating article thus addresses the ways in which women might generate a degree of freedom for themselves within the norms of the sexual code. Cohen went on(7) to explore the social background to adultery in Athens, considering both women's range of social contacts and men's possible motives for adulterous affairs. It is no longer possible to argue that seclusion prevented Athenian women from having affairs.

It is also worth noting that Athenian women were not expected to be sexually naive. Admittedly some Athenians claimed, as a virtue, that their womenfolk were extremely sheltered, like the speaker in Lysias 3.6 who said that his sister and nieces had lived such well-regulated lives that they were ashamed to be seen even by their kinsmen.(8) Those who made such claims no doubt wished it to be thought that such seclusion kept the women unaware of too worldly standards of behaviour. Nonetheless we can be quite sure that such supposed innocent ignorance was not the norm, because several of the women's religious festivals -- which formed part of the official religious observances of the Athenian state -- involved blatantly sexual jokes and obscene language and objects. The best known case is the Haloa, described in some detail by a scholiast on Lucian. At that festival, celebrated by women alone, the women used obscene language, the priestesses recommended that the women take lovers, and on the table at the feast were images of male and female genitals made of dough. The true ritual and social significance of such cults is still debated; it was clearly not the case that the Haloa was a simple incitement to sexual impropriety, but we can as a minimum deduce from festivals like the Haloa that the women were wen informed about a range of sexual behaviour much wider than normal conventions approved.(9) This same awareness appears elsewhere in Athenian literature; for instance, in the scene in Euripides' Hippolytus (284-524) in which Phaedra confesses to the Nurse her passion for Hippolytus it is notable that, once Phaedra has surmounted her initial reluctance to speak and the Nurse has overcome her horror at the revelation, both women show an awareness that sexual transgressions by other women are, however regrettable, a fact of fife.

In fact adultery was discussed in Athens as if it was commonplace, and Athenian literature is full of references to it, both general and specific. General references include not only, as we might expect, jokes about adultery in comic playwrights (e.g., Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 340-6 or Xenarchus, fr. 4 Kassel-Austin), and observations on adultery from tragic dramas where it forms part of the plot (e.g., Clytemnestra speaking at Euripides, Electra 1036-40); but also, and more revealingly, examples like Socrates wanting an illustration of someone plunging foolishly into danger and choosing the case of adulterers entering the women's quarters (Xenophon, Mem. 2.1.5), or the Athenian in Plato's Laws recognizing with regret that some people would regard it as impossible to impose a law restricting sex to marriage (Laws 839b-d). Again it is perhaps not surprising that Antisthenes, who liked to surprise, claimed that `Aphrodite has corrupted many fine and good women' (fr. 109A+B); but it is more striking to read in Xenophon (Mem. 1.2.24) that Alcibiades was hunted by many great (semnon) women, striking because Xenophon does not obviously set out to shock, and because he attributes the initiative to the women. Many more texts could be cited, but the point is clear: it was commonly taken for granted in Athens that adultery occurred.(10)

Since adultery not only breached the publicly professed moral code, but also faced severe legal penalties, it might be asked why Athenians took the risk. A lawsuit could be brought for adultery (Aristotle, Ath. Pol. 59.3, graphe moicheias),(11) and what little remains of the speech Lysias frr. IX. 1-4 (Bude) appears to be from such a case. There were however much more severe penalties.(12) The speaker in Lysias 1 argued that a male adulterer, if taken in the act, could legitimately be killed (as he had killed his wife's lover). If a husband discovered that his wife had committed adultery, he had to divorce her on pain of losing his citizen rights; after the divorce the wife was excluded from all public Cult.(13) A law of Solon is reported which allowed a father to sell into slavery a daughter (or a brother a sister) if caught in fornication.(14) Evidently these dangers did not always deter Athenians: some were no doubt driven simply by sexual desire, and Cohen(15) has explored some more complex possible motives for both men and women. It may, however, be doubted how real the dangers apparently posed by the law actually were. There is, for instance, no known case of a daughter sold into slavery under the Solonian law,(16) and not all adulterers necessarily paid the penalty of their act. Some adulterers certainly were caught(17) and suffered some form of penalty. Lysias 14.28 shows a case of a wife divorced, probably for acknowledged adultery,(18) but it is the only specific case of its kind known from the surviving evidence (except insofar as the husband in Lysias 1 was presumably obliged to divorce). The killing of the lover in Lysias 1 is the only known case of such killing. Other men suffered other penalties: Lysias 13.68 tells us that Agoratus was caught in adultery and calls witnesses to the fact, and Isaeus 8.44, 46 tells us that Diocles was caught in adultery and suffered what is fitting, and again calls witnesses. Yet a man caught in adultery might pay to avoid other penalties; according to the comic playwright Cratinus (fr.81 Kassel-Austin), Callias paid no less than three talents in such circumstances (though the sum may well be inflated). A husband's willingness to accept payment might however verge on blackmail, and involve complicity with the supposed adultery (Demosthenes 59.64-70). It is also possible that some husbands simply condoned their wives' adultery. (Four lines in Euripides, Electra 921-5 even suggest that a man who seduced another man's wife might be obliged to marry the woman in his turn and suffer whatever infidelity she still practised: since the lines, though addressed by Electra to Aegisthus' corpse, oddly enough do not match what Aegisthus had done, they may have a wider reference.)

In Hippolytus 462-3 the Nurse asks: `How many sensible men do you think, when they see their bed dishonoured, seem not to see?' The penalty for a husband who failed to divorce an adulterous wife was very severe, but it could be imposed only if another citizen brought a lawsuit and proved that the husband was aware of his wife's adultery. Since it can be assumed that the wife and her lover would normally be anxious not to publicize their affair, adultery must have been difficult to prove in any case, and especially difficult without the husband's cooperation, so that a husband could feel that he had a good chance of escaping any legal penalty for condoning his wife's adultery. It is easy to imagine motives for a husband's silence. One would be to avoid scandal and shame as a cuckold (though Greek apparently has no precise equivalent of the term `cuckold'); Aeschines 1.107 claims that even the husbands of innocent women sexually abused by Timarchus on the island of Andros preferred to keep silent about what had happened.(19) A husband might also be moved to silence by the desire to avoid returning his wife's dowry; there is no absolutely clear-cut evidence on the subject, but it seems that a husband probably had to return the dowry even in the case of divorce for adultery.(20) Another motive for silence might be a desire to avoid casting doubt on the paternity of any children. Obviously if a husband did not act against an adulterous wife, he too would be anxious to keep the matter quiet, and it is therefore not surprising that evidence for such cases is poor. Some husbands may even have brazened out gossip about a wife's adultery: the supposed sexual misdemeanours of Lycon's wife Rhodia made her a target for jokes in comedies by both Aristophanes and Eupolis.(21) We do not know whether Lycon divorced Rhodia: if he did, he nonetheless suffered the humiliation of jokes about his wife's infidelity; while, if he did not (which is more likely, since the playwrights speak of Rhodia as his wife), he illustrates the possibility of the husband condoning even his wife's apparently notorious infidelity.

It appears that others too might condone women's adultery, just as in the Hippolytus (433-81) the Nurse claims that it is condoned. Some alleged affairs, like Rhodia's, were widely spoken of, and several leading men in Athens, such as Cimon, Pericles, and Alcibiades,(22) had reputations for affairs with citizen women. Aristophanes, when joking about women's adultery (Thesmophoriazusae, 340-6), takes it for granted that others besides the lovers would know about an affair. In Lysias 1, when the speaker's wife takes a lover, apart from her maidservant's complicity in the affair, there is a very strong suggestion that the lover's mother condoned the liaison (Lysias 1.19-20). The speaker relates how he forced his wife's slave maidservant to tell him all she knew about her mistress' affair, and then reports what he learnt from the slave: part of what she revealed was that her mistress and the lover's mother had gone together to the Thesmophoria while the husband was absent in the country. The speaker never explicitly explains why he tells the court about the two women's going together to the festival; but the event is presented as an aspect of his wife's adulterous affair, and we know of no reason why the older woman should take an interest in the younger save that her son was having an affair with her.(24) If the mother knew of the affair when she accompanied her son's mistress to the Thesmophoria, she evidently condoned the liaison. With this case of a mother's likely complicity we may compare the claim of the Nurse in the Hippolytus 464-5 that fathers assisted their sons' affairs. In fact the affair in Lysias 1 was apparently known to several people, but discovered by the husband only when a former mistress of the adulterer, discarded and jealous of his new love, sent word to the husband.

Most Athenians once embarked on a liaison no doubt tried to be discreet, but, if both husbands and others might condone affairs, lovers could hope to escape any severe penalty even if discovered. A readiness on the part of at least some Athenians to condone illicit sex also suggests that Athenians at least sometimes applied values other than those of the publicly professed moral code.

Clearly there can be no statistics of Athenian sexual practice, and it is impossible to prove by figures how common sexual liaisons outside marriage were among Athenian citizen men and women of the classical period.(25) Nonetheless arguments can be brought forward to suggest that breaches of the professed sexual morality were fairly common.

An extreme case is the citizen women who became prostitutes.(26) No doubt the majority of prostitutes in Athens were slaves or metics, but the existence of the citizen prostitute is clear from, for instance, the case presented in Isaeus 3, which turns on whether a particular woman was the lawfully wedded wife of a citizen or was a hetaira: to marry a citizen legally the woman would have needed to be herself of citizen status, and indeed her citizen status is never brought into question in the speech.(27) It might be argued that citizen women who became prostitutes put themselves so far outside normal citizen society that no conclusions can be drawn from them about other citizen women; there is, however, evidence that hetairai were not set totally apart from all other citizen women. It is true that Athenian law evidently supposed that hetairai would be publicly known as such, since it laid down that a man could not be seized as an adulterer (moichos) for sleeping with a woman working in a brothel or openly offering herself for hire.(28) It is also claimed in a speech of Aeschines that the men who farmed the tax on prostitutes knew who was a prostitute, but the speaker, despite being anxious to prove that his opponent Timarchus had been a male prostitute, does not summon tax-farmers as witnesses;(29) and it is notable that in Isaeus 3 and Demosthenes 59, in both of which it is claimed that particular women were or had been prostitutes, no attempt is made to get evidence from tax-farmers. It was no doubt easy enough to identify a woman working in a brothel as a prostitute, but there are cases which suggest that a hetaira might not be so clearly marked off from other categories of women. Isaeus 3 has already been mentioned; and the central problem in that speech is whether a woman who, as all parties admit, associated with the citizen Pyrrhus over a period of time was his lawfully wedded wife or simply a hetaira: social categories were evidently not so clearcut as to exclude all confusion. Likewise in Demosthenes 59 it is alleged that Neaera progressed from being a slave prostitute to living with the Athenian citizen Stephanus as his supposed wife, and that moreover while living as Stephanus' wife Neaera continued her career as a prostitute, and was even able, as a married woman, to charge more (Demosthenes 59.41). The same speech also shows the same confusion between respectable citizen woman and hetaira extending to Neaera's daughter. The confusion is highlighted when Stephanus seeks to extort money from a certain Epaenetus on the grounds that he has committed adultery with the daughter, and Epaenetus rejects the charge on the ground that the daughter is a known prostitute, but nonetheless agrees to contribute to the daughter's dowry (Demosthenes 59.64-70); while we may suspect that the word `dowry' is a mere euphemism employed to explain and justify the payment by Epaenetus, even on that sceptical reading of the text the parties concerned were ready to pretend to believe that a known hetaira could hope to find a husband.(30) Despite Athens' concern for the good name of citizen women, the boundaries between the respectable and the unrespectable were evidently not absolutely clear. Moreover such cases, as presented, involve the connivance of the husband, or guardian, in the woman's activities.(31) In the fourth century the comic playwright Anaxilas (fr.21 Kassel-Austin) envisaged a reasonably well-off young woman getting the name of hetaira through sleeping with men for no payment, and Antiphanes, a playwright of Middle Comedy, imagined a citizen hetaira of excellent character (fr.210 Kassel-Austin): such literary examples are not good evidence of actual behaviour, but again suggest a willingness among some Athenians to blur the moral and social distinctions between hetairai and conventionally respectable women.(32)

Another status whose respectability was not obviously beyond question was that of the pallake. A pallake seems to have been any woman living with a man over an extended period but not married to him by engye.(33) The term pallake could cover women of very different standing. Some Athenian citizens arranged for their daughter to live with a citizen as his pallake,(34) and negotiated the terms on which the union was to be conducted (Isaeus 3.39). The range of status covered by the word was however so wide that a pallake might be simply a slave-woman kept by a master for his sexual pleasure and discarded whenever he saw fit (Antiphon 1.14). The status of many pallakai must therefore have been low, and even the most respectable of pallakai are likely to have been tainted by the term's wide connotations. They would be seen as of distinctly lower status than a lawfully married wife (Lysias 1.31), and we may wonder whether any pallake could be truly respectable.

Neither hetairai nor pallakai can be taken as typical of Athenian citizen women, but, when of citizen status, they show how some overlap was possible between the conventionally respectable and the non-respectable. In images on Athenian vases also the two categories are not kept rigorously apart: Kilmer has pointed to the difficulty of distinguishing in erotic scenes on Attic red-figure vases between hetairai and other free women.(35) And in patterns of sexual behaviour in Athens, both as reported in particular instances and as represented through generalized comments, the respectable and the non-respectable meet.

The quality of the evidence for such behaviour is very variable, and in some cases amounts to no more than a readiness to use an accusation of adultery as an insult: so Aeschines (2.149) accused Demosthenes of being a complaisant cuckold, and Demosthenes (18.129) attacked the morals of Aeschines' mother. Apollodorus (Demosthenes 45.83-4) remarkably enough questioned the paternity of his brother, and so the morals of his own mother. When Lysias fr.38 tells us that a certain Aeschines acquired much of the wealth of a perfume-seller Hermaeus by seducing Hermaeus' wife, a lady of seventy with fewer teeth than the fingers of one hand, the affair sounds implausible; the speaker summoned witnesses to Aeschines' activities, but probably not to the seduction. Such accusations needed no basis in fact, and of course pretend to judge the accused by the yardstick of conventional morality; but they accept implicitly that illicit sex was widespread.

Besides instances mentioned earlier, other specific examples of affairs are mentioned from time to time in the literature, with varying degrees of plausibility. Antisthenes expressed a belief that many Athenian women would be ready to enter upon affairs, and spoke of his own sexual liaisons.(36) We also hear of Demades, caught in adultery in Collytus (Plutarch, Demosthenes 11.5); of charges of adultery brought against Lycophron in Hyperides 1; of Demetrius of Phalerum's prosperous cook seducing the wives of leading men (Carystius of Pergamum fr. 10 Muller); and so on.

General comments also suppose that illicit sex was common, and in some cases mentioned recognized patterns of behaviour. Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 340-6 mentions the slave woman who acts as go-between for lovers, as in Lysias 1. Women at the house-door looking out for men appear in Aristophanes, Peace 979-85 and in Theophrastus 28 (The Slanderer). Several texts speak of adulterers entering the woman's house (Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae 225; Xenophon, Mem. 2.1.5; Xenarchus fr.4 Kassel-Austin). Thus there were at least standard notions of how an affair might be conducted. There are also stock expressions of men's fears that their wives might commit adultery, as for instance the statement in Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 395-7 that men, as soon as they get home from the theatre, look for an adulterer in the house.(37) An Athenian man might however acknowledge the occurrence of adultery without excessive worry about his own wife, if we may judge from Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae 522-50; there the husband Blepyrus quizzes his wife Praxagora about why she has gone out before daybreak, and the possibility that Praxagora while out of the house has met a lover, or even several, is raised and then dropped as Blepyrus grudgingly accepts Praxagora's explanation that she went to help a friend in childbirth.

The overall pattern of behaviour which emerges is as follows. Athenians very often talk about adultery as a well-known phenomenon, and take for granted that it is happening in their society, as indeed it clearly was. While a couple having an affair could be expected to be discreet, there is clear evidence that others sometimes know of the affair, and that those who knew might well condone it. Where action was taken against an adulterer, it varied in severity, and might take the form of exacting payment. Despite the potential legal penalties for adultery, it is reasonable to believe that it often seemed possible in Athens to conduct an illicit affair without excessive danger.

Reports of illicit sexual liaisons normally judge them according to the code of morality to which most Athenians subscribed in public, and express or imply disapproval. Disapproval did not of course exclude other reactions, such as finding a particular affair comic, or gloating over a man who had been humiliated as a cuckold or punished as an adulterer. It is rare, nonetheless, to find adultery in favourable terms in the public discourse to which most of the surviving relevant texts belong. Antisthenes' view (fr.114) that one should make advances to women who will be well pleased with them is that of a man who liked to shock. The Nurse's encouragement to Phaedra to take a lover (Euripides, Hippolytus 490-502) is clearly meant to be taken as of doubtful moral value. Aristophanes allows the women in the Thesmophoriazusae to complain of their enemies who frustrate their affairs (340-6) and to charge Euripides with having made husbands suspicious so that wives can no longer get away with many things that they would want to do (383-432); but the women's implied approval of the activities which they are prevented from pursuing is part of the topsy-turvy situation which has given the women power in that play. At most such passages show that Athenians could imagine arguments in favour of adultery. It is important, however, to remember that we largely lack for classical Athens any literary genre which would explore personal feeling as does archaic Greek lyric, and so we lack the autobiographical accounts of sexual experience offered by, for instance, Archilochus fr.196a (whether truly autobiographical or presented by an assumed poetic persona). If, as has been argued above, adultery was not uncommon, it was presumably not always undertaken purely in a spirit of guilt (though the prevailing public morality no doubt ensured that some degree of guilt was often present), but we lack any form of evidence which would do more than hint at a current of feeling in Athenians, both men and women, which accepted sex outside marriage as usual behaviour. It is nonetheless likely that that current of feeling existed, since there existed a pattern of extra-marital sexual behaviour between men and women of the Athenian citizen class.


(1.) I am grateful to Professor A. H. Sommerstein for suggested improvements to this paper, while stressing that he is not responsible for any of its defects. The present discussion is primarily concerned with citizen women. Information about metic women is poor. Some, belonging to households more or less assimilated into Athenian society, no doubt sought to live by Athenian norms, but the category of metic women extended to groups, such as prostitutes, living by other standards. Slave women were commonly compelled to submit to the sexual desires of others. The present discussion is also concerned exclusively with women's heterosexual behaviour because it is virtually impossible to discuss female homoeroticism in classical Athens. K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (London, 1978), 172 notes that classical Athenian literature refers only once to female homosexuality (in Plato, Symposium 191e). It goes without saying that Athenian men could find sexual partners other than Athenian citizen women.

(2.) E.g., R. Garland, The Greek Way of Life (London, 1990).

(3.) See, for example, the observations of V. Ehrenberg, The People of Aristophanes (3rd edition, New York, 1962), 195, recognizing that adultery occurred but supposing that it was relatively rare. S. Blundell, Women in Ancient Greece (London, 1995), 126 argues that `it is impossible to know how often women were involved in illicit love affairs', but suggests that such affairs were not common. J. F. Gardner, G&R 36 (1989), 51 ff. explores Athenian men's fears about their wives, including the fear that wives would commit adultery, while D. Konstan in A. L. Boegehold and A. C. Scafuro (edd.), Athenian Identity and Civic Ideology (Baltimore, 1994), 217ff. examines anxieties of Athenian men about Athenian women who had premarital sexual experience (including victims of rape). The discussion of Athenian attitudes to rape and seduction (E. M. Harris, CQ 40 [1990], 370 ff. and P. G. M. Brown, CQ 41 [1991], 533f.) clearly supposes that both occurred. Dover, Arethusa 6 (1973), 69 suggested that, at least lower down the social scale, Athenian girls might have love-affairs.

(4.) D. C. Richter, Classical Journal 67 (1971), 1 ff.

(5.) A breach of conventional sexual morality was also an undermining of the authority of the woman's guardian, and hence of the collective male authority which characterized the Athenian community (L. Foxhall in M. Gagarin [ed.], Symposion 1990: Vortrage zur griechischen und hellenistischen Rechtsgeschichte (Pacific Grove, California, 24-26. September 1990), Akten der Gesellschaft fur Griechische und Hellenistische Rechtsgeschichte No. 8 [Cologne, Weimar, Vienna, 1991], 297 ff.: this accounts for the readiness with which Athenians condemned improper sexual relations with Athenian citizen women. Conversely the opportunity to undermine another man's authority and standing may have been for some Athenians a motive for seducing Athenian women (D. Cohen, Law, Sexuality, and Society: the Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens [Cambridge, 1991], 163 Q. C. B. Patterson in Boegehold and Scafuro (see n. 3), 199 ff. explores the importance for the civic ideology of democratic Athens of legitimate marriage and the civic legitimacy which marriage created: improper sexual behaviour would be a threat to such legitimacy.

(6.) Cohen, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung fur Rechtsgeschichte, Romanistische Abteilung 102 (1985), 385ff.

(7.) Cohen in P. Cartledge, P. Millett, and S. Todd (edd.), Nomos: Essays in Athenian Law, Politics, and Society (Cambridge, 1990), 147 ff. Cohen, Law, Sexuality, and Society: the Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 1991) developed the ideas which he had published in 1989 (previous note) and in 1990.

(8.) In interpreting Lysias 3.6 it is however important to note (as did Richter, op. cit., 6 F. the context for the girls' modesty: the speaker is describing how at night a drunken stranger burst into the women's quarters.

(9.) On the Haloa and similar cults see the recent reconsideration by J. J. Winkler, The Constraints of Desire (New York and London, 1990), 193-203. Winkler quotes a translation of the scholion on Lucian about the Haloa. On women's festivals see Foxhall in A. Cornwall and N. Lindisfarne (edd.), Dislocating Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies (London, 1994), 137f. and on female sexuality in Athens ibid. 141-5.

(10.) Concern about illegitimate children could be taken as an indication of improper sexual relations: see generally D. Ogden, Greek Bastardy in the Classical and the Hellenistic Periods (Oxford, 1996), 32-212 on such concerns at Athens (though he argues [149-50] that the Athenian state was anxious to protect the legitimacy of the citizenship). The issue is complicated by disagreement about the meaning of the term nothoi used by the ancients: Ogden, whose book is centrally concerned with the concept of notheia (5-6), argues (15-18) that the term nothoi covered all extramarital children, against the view of Patterson, Classical Antiquity 9 (1990), 40 ff. that nothos, though often taken by modern scholars to mean `bastard', in fact refers to a recognized child of inferior status. Ogden (107-10) considers the evidence (mainly from drama) that an illegitimate child might be exposed, or passed off as the offspring of another woman, and he also notes (6-8) both that no figures exist for the number of bastards in classical Athenian society, and that `adulterine bastardy has of course historically been virtually undetectable, and most children conceived in this way will have been passed off by the wife as her husband's'.

(11.) See Scafuro in Boegehold and Scafuro (see n. 3), 8 n. 36, maintaining the existence of this form of legal action.

(12.) See D. M. Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality (New York and London, 1990), 92f. on the laws against illicit sex with citizen women, and the danger of such behaviour (and the easy access for Athenian men to prostitutes): Ogden, op. cit., 136-42 also reviews the laws. See Foxhall, op. cit., 141f. on moral judgements of illicit sex.

(13.) A. R. W. Harrison, The Law of Athens, Vol. 1 The Family and Property (Oxford, 1968), 32-6. See also S. G. Cole, CP 79 (1984), 97 ff. Controversy over the meaning of moicheia, stemming from arguments developed by Cohen, is reviewed, with references, by L. Cohn-Haft, JHS (1995), 3 n. 11: the main issue is whether the word refers exclusively to illicit sex with a wife, or whether its meaning extends to illicit sex with any woman under the protection of a kyrios. For the present argument the precise meaning of moicheia is not critical, since illicit sex with any citizen woman, whether or not technically described as moicheia, was certainly a breach of conventional morality.

(14.) Harrison, op. cit., 73: the law is cited by Plutarch, Solon 23.

(15.) Cohen in Cartledge, Millett, and Todd (see n. 7), 147ff.

(16.) E. Fantham, H. P. Foley, N. B. Kampen, S. B. Pomeroy, and H. A. Shapiro (edd.), Women in the Classical World: Image and Text (Oxford, 1994), 114.

(17.) What `catching' an adulterer might mean is not entirely clear: see E. Cantarella in Gagarin (see n. 5), 289 ff. There were nonetheless occasions on which the belief that an individual had been found to be engaged in an adulterous relationship was strong enough to justify the countermeasures allowed by the law.

(18.) Cohn-Haft, op. cit., 3. While it is agreed that humiliating physical punishments were also sometimes inflicted on male adulterers, there has been debate about whether the versions of them mentioned in comedy and in other, later, literary passages are mere jokes (Cohen, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung fur Rechtsgeschichte, Romanistische Abteilung 102 [1985], 385- 7; J. Roy, Liverpool Classical Monthly 16.5 [May 1991], 73 ff.) or are the punishments actually inflicted (C. Carey, Liverpool Classical Monthly 18.4 [April 1993], 53 ff.).

(19.) See Foxhall in Cornwall and Lindisfarne (see n. 9), 133ff. on the problems facing a cuckolded husband who had to decide whether to reassert his authority.

(20.) Harrison, op. cit., 55-6, followed by, e.g., R. Just, Women in Athenian Life and Law (London, 1989), 73 and R. Sealey, Women and Law in Classical Greece (Chapel Hill, 1990), 29.

(21.) Aristophanes, Lysistrata 270; Eupolis frr. 58, 61, 232, 295 (Kassel-Austin): see Sommerstein, Quaderni di storia 11 (1980), 398-9 with n. 38.

(22.) On Cimon, e.g., Plutarch, Cimon 4.5-9, 15.3, on Pericles, e.g., Plutarch, Pericles 13.9-11, 36.3; on Alcibiades, e.g., Antisthenes ft.29a+b, Eupolis ft.171 (Kassel-Austin), Lysias fr.XXX (Bude), Xenophon, Mem. 1.2.24.

(23.) The speaker claims (Lysias 1.7-8) that his wife was seen by her future lover when she attended her mother-in-law's funeral. He avoids all suggestion that there was any previous acquaintance. See L. Foxhall in Cornwall and Lindisfarne (see n. 9), 133ff. and 142 on the relationships in this speech.

(24.) It is of course impossible to know whether events happened as the speaker in the case presents them; but he is clearly both anxious to offer to the jury a plausible scenario, and keen to present himself as somewhat naive, so that the alleged course of events is presumably good evidence of what might happen in Athens.

(25.) Compare the remarks of Patterson, TAPA 115 (1985), 103ff., especially 122-3, on the comparable problem of assessing the importance of infanticide in classical Greece; and Ogden, op. cit., 6-7 on the lack of statistics for illegitimate children.

(26.) See Halperin, op. cit., 107-12 on prostitutes. See also Ogden, op. cit., 157-63 on Athenian citizen pallakai (whom he believes to have been very rare) and hetairai.

(27.) Certain main issues can be identified in Isaeus 3, though the details of the situation discussed in the speech, and their implications, are often far from clear. See Patterson, Classical Antiquity 9 (1990), 70-3.

(28.) Demosthenes 59.67: see Harrison, op. cit., 37.

(29.) Aeschines 1.119-24. Though the speaker's immediate concern is with his claim that Timarchus had been a male prostitute, the points which he makes about tax-farmers and prostitutes should apply equally to female prostitutes.

(30.) The statements of Apollodorus, the speaker in Demosthenes 59, present serious difficulties and may well not be true (see Patterson in Boegehold and Scafuro (see n. 3), 199 ff. and esp. 207-9): but the statements suppose that a known hetaira could find a husband.

(31.) Cohen, Law, Sexuality, and Society, 127-30 notes how a husband might seek to make money from a wife's adultery. In such cases adultery and prostitution would be very close.

(32.) Women of ambiguous status of course became a stock element of New Comedy: see, e.g., Konstan, Phoenix 41 (1987), 122 ff. on Glycera in Menander's Perikeiromene.

(33.) Just, op. cit., 50-5.

(34.) Patterson, Classical Antiquity 9 (1990), 55-6 and 60 and in S. B. Pomeroy (ed.), Women's History and Ancient History (Chapel Hill, 1991), 58 n. 61 points out the disadvantages to both man and woman, if they were Athenian citizens, of a relationship of man and pallake, while recognizing that such a relationship was not prohibited. See also Halperin, op. cit., 110-11 and Ogden, op. cit., 158 (arguing that citizen pallakai were very rare).

(35.) M. F. Kilmer, Greek Erotica on Red-figure Vases (London, 1993), 159-67. R. Osborne in N. B. Kampen (ed.), Sexuality in Ancient Art (Cambridge, 1996), 65 ff. considers expressions of desire for women on Athenian vases, interpreting such desire as belonging to a fantasy world and to some extent justifying aggressive male sexuality; but it is possible to suppose, for reasons set out in this paper, that not all Athenian women would be unattainable as objects of desire. See also F. Frontisi-Ducroux, 81 ff., also in Kampen.

(36.) Roy, Liverpool Classical Monthly 10.9 (Nov. 1985), 132 ff.

(37.) See Gardner, op. cit., 51 ff. on men's fears. See also the comments of Foxhall in Cornwall and Lindisfarne (see note 9), 140f. on `male fantasies of women conspiring against men'.
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Author:Roy, J.
Publication:Greece & Rome
Date:Apr 1, 1997
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