Athenaeus’ Sixth Book on Greek and Roman Slavery

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Egidia Occhipinti


This paper presents a literary study of Book 6, chapters 84-109, of Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists which offers new insight into Athenaeus’ view of Greek and Roman slavery and his way of working with sources.

The main evidence for this section of the book (84-109) is given by Theopompus and Posidonius, though it is not possible to discern and determine exactly which parts belong to these authors within the narrative. Athenaeus uses his sources mainly to support his view of ancient slavery, which mirrors the Roman elites’ ideology. In reference to the issue of obtaining and managing slaves, Greeks are depicted as harsher than Romans. The reference to the Mithridatic wars is the thread connecting and explaining the punishment of the Chians for having purchased slaves, and Roman moral degeneration. The decadence of Roman customs is dated from the Mithridatic wars onwards.

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