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Susan Deacy and Karen Pierce, eds.
Rape in Antiquity: Sexual Violence in the Greek and Roman Worlds.(1)
Edward M. Harris
Échos du Monde Classique/Classical Views
XL, n.s. 16, 1997, 483-96
Rape in Antiquity: Sexual Violence in the Greek and Roman Worlds is a generally worthwhile collection of essays about a non-existent topic. This statement is not meant to be facetious. Nor do I intend to suggest that acts that we would call "rape" did not occur in antiquity. Quite the opposite: ancient Greek and Roman literature presents us with many stories about rape and attempted rape of both women and men. When I say that rape did not exist in antiquity, what I mean is that there is no single word in either ancient Greek or Latin with the same semantic field as the modern English word "rape" (viol in French or Vergewaltigung in German). The Greeks, for instance, used words like u(/brij and a)timi/a and the Romans words like stuprum and vis to refer to acts that we call rape, but each of these words possessed a much wider semantic field than our word "rape." And many Greek authors may describe what we would call rape as an act of violence, yet do not always call it an act of u(/brij or a)timi/a (e.g. Apollo's rape of Creusa in Euripides' Ion, the rape of a wife at Aristophanes Lys. 223-28 or the rapes of young women in Menander's plays). True, ancient authors give us some information (not as much as we would like) about acts of rape and ancient attitudes toward sexual violence. But we should not assume they had a concept of rape similar to ours.
Several of the authors in this collection are aware there is a problem with using our word "rape" when analyzing sexual relations in antiquity. Harrison in one of the best essays poses the question "was all sex rape" in Classical Greece "or was there no such thing at all?" And Saunders observes, "The medieval legal term raptus cannot be directly equated with the modern concept of rape." But the collection would have been better if it had begun by examining the modern term "rape" and considering whether the modern concept is relevant or helpful in analyzing the ancient evidence. This is especially necessary today since the legal definition of rape has undergone several important (and in my opinion positive) changes in the past twenty years since the publication of Susan Brownmiller's landmark book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape (New York 1975). For instance, when Brownmiller wrote the law in the United States defined rape as "the perpetration of an act of sexual intercourse with a female, not one's wife, against her will and consent." This meant that in the eyes of the law a man could not rape his wife - nor could a man rape another man. And New York Law used to require evidence of emission to prove a crime of rape, a requirement that made it extremely difficult for prosecutors to secure a conviction. Thanks to the work of feminists like Brownmiller, society has begun to change its view of rape, and the legal definition of the offense has been revised. But the main problem with using the modern term "rape" when studying sexual violence in antiquity is that our concept focuses on the absence of the victim's consent. Ancient authors, on the other hand, had very different notions from ours about women's power and ability to grant consent and were more interested in questions of honor when it came to judging acts of sexual violence.
Instead of providing an overview to the topic, each author examines only one aspect of sexual violence (Ogden on rape and legitimacy, Omitowoju on rape and status, Byrne on bestiality and rape) or one kind of evidence for sexual violence (Arafat and Kilmer on vase painting, Deacy on New Comedy, Harrison on rape in Herodotus, Arieti on rape in Livy, Saunders on rape in Chaucer). The best essays compare the conclusions reached on the basis of one kind of evidence with that found in other sources. For example, Deacy compares the evidence of New Comedy with what is known from the legal sources, and Saunders places Chaucer's treatment of rape in the context of contemporary English society and the tradition of Christian ideas about female sexuality. Yet several authors in the collection seem unaware of scholarship done in other areas. For instance, Arafat and Kilmer, both art historians, do not realize that Lysias' claim (1.29-33) that seduction is a worse crime than rape is misleading at best and certainly misrepresents the legal remedies for each offense. The result is that analysis is often fragmented. Although the papers originated in a conference on rape that took place at the University of Wales in Cardiff in November 1994, one sometimes gets the impression that each contributor wrote in isolation from the others. Surely the goal of conferences is to promote dialogue among scholars from different fields, but there is little evidence of any shared discussion among historians, literary critics, and archaeologists in this collection. For a synthesis of recent work, therefore, one has to look at Doblhofer's Vergewaltigung in der Antike (Stuttgart and Leipzig 1994).
Another problem with the collection is the uneven coverage of "antiquity." In this post-Bernal age it is surprising to find no essay on adultery and sexual violence in the ancient Near East (see for instance Raymond Westbrook's excellent survey "Adultery in Ancient Near Eastern Law," Revue Biblique 97.4 ( 542-80). For Augustan Rome, one misses an essay about rape in Ovid like Amy Richlin's "Reading Ovid's Rapes" in her Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome (New York and Oxford 1992). Nor is there an essay on sexual violence in late antiquity: Saunders touches briefly on Augustine's views, but only in the context of her discussion of Medieval attitudes toward rape: the essay by Keith Hopwood on "Byzantine Princesses and Lustful Turks" has much more to say about marriage than it does about rape. For this period readers will have to consult works like J. Beaucamp, Le statut de la femme à Byzance (4e-7e siècle) (Paris 1990-92).(2)
A further problem is that several of the essays have little to do with the topic of rape. In her essay on "Fear in the Seven Against Thebes" Byrne seeks to show how "rape, marriage, and death are equated in the play but very little of the essay has anything to say about rape. The essay begins good observations about the comparison of rape with marriage at Aeschlyus Septem 365-68 and 333-35 and association of defeat and rape at 351-55 but the rest of the essay strays from the topic and examines the use of lament, Eteocles' "feminine side," and possible Dionysiac gender blending. The argument is often difficult to follow and several of the ideas are far-fetched: the word at w)moda/khj at 692 is linked to use of word w)mo/j at Philos. Gymn. 54 to mean indigestion - this combined with gloomy resignation and prophetic dreams (710-11) makes Eteocles somehow like a woman. Arieti's essay on "Rape and Livy's View of Roman history" is also weak. Arieti argues that the prominence of rape in Livy can be explained by the influence of Empedocles' ideas about Love and Strife. Although Arieti demonstrates Roman intellectuals in the late Republic read Empedocles, his argument for Empedoclean influence on Livy is pure speculation.
Arafat's essay on "State of the art - art of the state: sexual violence and politics in Late Archaic and Early Classical vase-painting" also has little to do with the topic of rape. Arafat discusses several vases where men either pursue or abduct women, but most of his essay concerns the issue "of seeing reflections of political developments and preoccupations in the art of the Archaic and Classical periods." He presents a perceptive analysis of the differences between public and private patronage and their effects on artists' selection of subject matter, then discusses the Eurymedon vase, the rape of Oreithyia, and the pursuit of Aegina by Zeus in vases of the mid-fifth century. The section about the Eurymedon vase studies the controversy between Schauenberg and Pinney over the date and identity of the barbarian, and the discussion of Oreithyia looks at its connection with the dedication of a temple to Boreas for his help at Artemision and Zeus' pursuit of Aegina as an expression of the Athenian conquest of the island. There are many good points and sensible discussion of issues, but there is little discussion of rape per se until the conclusion where he asks why rape is not condemned and notes that the Greeks view rape more as a means to an end. Unfortunately he does not pursue these insights nor attempt to tie them in with the other essays.
The other essay on rape in vase painting by Martin Kilmer bears more directly on the topic. Kilmer confronts the difficult task of identifying scenes of rape in early red-figure pottery. Kilmer draws on the abundant evidence collected his valuable Greek Erotica on Attic Red-Figure Vases (London 1993), but finds few depictions of rape. Out of dozens of pairs (and occasional threesomes) copulating on these vases, it is hard to find one partner using severe violence on the other. For instance, on a cup by the Pedieus painter a man wielding a sandal penetrates a woman from behind. Kilmer is rightly cautious: "the sandal is not a formidable weapon. In later twentieth century clothing its closest parallel is probably the bedroom slipper." I would add that one should not underestimate the erotic potential of spanking. Other men on the same vase appear to force women to perform fellatio, but Kilmer draws on personal experience and offers an alternative suggestion: "we could as easily understand the gesture as meant primarily to provide the counterforce necessary to get the penis in to her mouth and to help establishing the rhythm." Brendel thought the women involved are prostitutes, but Kilmer is not convinced that we can determine their status. (One misses a reference to I. Peschl, Die Hetaere bei Symposion und Komos in der attisch-rotfiguren Vasenmalerei des 6.-4. Jahr. u. Chr. [Frankfurt am Main 1987].) Here he takes his skepticism too far - the setting is obviously a symposion, which respectable women did not attend (Isaeus 3.13-14; [Dem.] 59.24, 33, 48) . Nor did respectable women have sex with more than one man simultaneously or serially (Dem. 59.35).(3)
Although divine abductions of mortals is a popular subject on vases, the painters normally depict only the pursuit. Kilmer analyzes three curious vases where unidentified winged figures embrace and carry off young men, but "there is no hint of violence beyond the abduction itself." Fragments of a cup by the Onesimos painter depict a bearded man with his arm around another man with the words e)/ason ("let me") while his partner replies "ou) pau/sei ("won't you stop?"). Once again Kilmer hesitates to call this rape: "There is unfortunately no way to determine whether the spoken unwill-ingness is serious or playful." The Eurymedon oinochoe is thus exceptional insofar as it "gives an indication of homosexual anal penetration as an expression of complete dominance of another nation." This vase is unquestionably humorous; "the viewer is not expected to be sympathetic to the victim, a foreigner, and there is no question of hybris." The only case where the "viewer's sympathy is drawn.. to the victim, not to the rapist" is Kleophrades painter's portrayal of Ajax' rape of Kassandra.
Kilmer's essay is a model of careful observation and admirable for its combination of learning and wit. One only wishes that he had explored the implications of some of the patterns he notices. Why in divine abductions do the painters always portray pursuit and never consummation? Why in the erotic vases do the painters show little interest in the emotions of the partners, which generally show neither pleasure nor pain nor fear, making it difficult to determine whether the viewer is witnessing a rape or consensual sex? Is this merely stylistic convention or is there deeper significance? Furthermore, Kilmer does not attempt to connect his observations with the literary evidence. And does the absence of actual physical force mean that we can rule out the possibility of rape? There are certainly non-physical types of coercion: a slave who offered no resistance to her master was not necessarily a willing partner. One cannot explain the relative rarity of rape depicted in art because adultery was more important: there are roughly as many references to hybris meaning rape in our sources are there are to moicheia. Kilmer claims "direct indictments for hybris are rare," but he overlooks [X.] Ath. Pol. 3.5, which shows that prosecutions for hybris were on the contrary rather frequent.
Pierce studies "The Portrayal of Rape in New Comedy." This is an excellent essay, which contains a thorough and careful study of the plays and sensible conclusions. For the playwrights rape is an "incidental occurrence or convenient plot device" and "no interest is shown in the psychological trauma of the woman or girl." In a perceptive analysis of Menander's Epitrepontes she notes "the act of rape that led to pregnancy is not so important as the arrival of a bastard child nine months later." In the Samia, however, Menander's description of Moschion's sexual relations with Plangon at 51-54 leaves it unclear whether it was rape or seduction, but Pierce convincingly argues it is more likely to be rape. While Menander appears to show some sympathy for the victims of rape, Pierce finds Plautus even more insensitive in his treatment of rape than Menander. In the Aulularia Lycanides rapes Phaedria and "suffers little remorse." Eunomia is equally indulgent and blames the violence on wine. One can say in Lyconides' favor that he admits his wrongdoing and offers to make amends (789-95). In the Cistellaria and the Truculentus rape is a mere plot device. In general in Plautus "we are not given any pitiful descriptions of the victim; indeed rape is portrayed as a petty insult." Terence by contrast illustrates the victim's distress and portays rape as "more sinister." Three of his six extant plays deal with rape: in the Hecyra Pamphilus rapes Philumena on the way to visit his mistress Bacchis. In the Adelphoe Aeschinus rapes a young girl when drunk. In the Eunuchus Chaerea disguises himself as a eunuch to enter Thais' house without suspicion and rape the girl she has raised. Pierce comes down hard on all three young men. Pamphilus insults both Philumena and Bacchis and exhibits his "lack of respect for women. " Aeschinus hides his "bravado and masculine deeds" only out of "fear of parental retribution." Chaerea is worst of all: he "is actually exultant about taking his pleasure, extremely happy having raped the girl he fancied" and "delirious with joy."
Pierce ends her essay by examining the relationship between life and art. She is uncertain whether the solution of having the rapist marry his victim is drawn from real life or comic fantasy. She correctly rules out the possibility that the practice was condoned because rape was considered a less serious offense than seduction. Like Arafat, she sees that rape is a viewed more as a means to an end, but does not explore the insight. In general, Pierce's essay is valuable for its close reading of the texts and an attempt to compare the evidence of comedy with the legal material. In places, however, Pierce seems more interested in passing judgment on the fictional characters of New Comedy than in understanding the society that produced these plays. It is easy to find fault with characters in ancient literature for not living up to our moral standards. It is more difficult to answer the question why the audience that watched these plays sympathized more with the plight of the male rapists than the suffering of their victims. Pierce's essay would have been better if she had begun by examining her own attitudes toward rape (which I share) and analyzed how they shape her reading of the plays. How do we define rape and why do we condemn it?
This brings back to issue of terminology, which this volume never squarely confronts. Pierce rightly observes that the Athenians might punish rape seriously as a case of hybris, but nowhere in the plays she studies does any character ever call rape hybris or the Latin equivalent. Comparative evidence might have helped her to make some progress. Peru and several other Latin American countries allow the rapist to marry his victim in exchange for dropping criminal charges, and male relatives of victims in these countries often compel the female victim to accept this alternative to prosecution. If Pierce had examined this evidence, she might have been able to discover the rationale behind the solutions that provide denouements for the rape-plots in New Comedy.(4)
Thomas Harrison examines "Herodotus and the Ancient Greek Idea of Rape" (185-208). Harrison's aim is to "illustrate Herodotus' 'foreignness' in his ideas of women," and parts of the essay have more to say about women than about rape. He begins with a convincing explanation for the greater prominence of women in Herodotus in contrast to Thucydides. Unlike some of the other contributors, Harrison understands the problems involved in looking for rape in Herodotus: "it is by no means clear that the Greeks had a conception of rape at all similar to ours." He also recognizes the risk of projecting "that modern concept onto the mind of the Greeks and of seeing" patterns of thought for which there is no evidence. It is therefore not surprising that Harrison finds very few instances of what would call rape in Herodotus. The rape of the Phocian woman by Persian soldiers in 480 is the sole case. Harrison notes how Xerxes impaled Sataspes for raping the daughter of Zopyros, but suggests that rape is condemned here "only in so far as it is an infringement of property rights." He finds more evidence for this attitude in Herodotus' account of Paris' abduction of Helen where the offense is against Menelaus, his property, and his rights as xenos. The Persian defense that Io and Helen would not have been abducted unless they were willing to indicate Herodotus considers women capable of consent though in other places they are portrayed as docile minors incapable of exercising sophrosyne. He notes that the higher the status of the victim the greater the penalty for rape and usefully compares the penalties for rape in the Gortyn Code, which vary in accordance with the status of the victim. He also observes the "frequent association of sexual lust and the lust for tyranny or empire."
The strongest part of essay is his analysis of Alexander's plot to kill the Persian ambassadors for fondling Macedonian women and his agreement to give his sister Gygaie in marriage in compensation for the murder. H. shrewdly observes how neither the women whom the Persians fondled at the party in Macedon nor Gygaie gave their consent. This leads to the fascinating observation that "The scale along which sexual relations were judged and controlled (if we can reduce it to a single scale) was not one that ran between non-consensual intercourse and romantic, reciprocated love, but between one form of non-consensual intercourse and another." H. concludes his essay with the observation: "If all (socially acceptable) sex followed this pattern then, was all sex rape, or was there no such thing at all?" One only wishes Harrison had started with this question instead of accepting the modern notion of rape as a starting point, only to discover at the last moment that it turns out to be the wrong starting point. But if one reads backwards from the conclusion, it is not too difficult to find some possible answers to this key question. Complaints aside, this is one of the best essays in the collection.
The essays on rape in myth are also strong. In her essay "The vulnerability of Athena," Deacy shows how Athena is cast in the role of rape victim. She discerns three categories of rape in myth: 1) parthenoi who reject normal female activities and wish to remain unmarried (e.g. Daphne), 2) parthenoi who are lured away from the paternal oikos, are raped and give birth to remarkable offspring (e.g. Europa), and 3) rape as a representation of marriage. Athena is similar to some of these parthenoi: for instance she refuses marriage and wears armor like a man(#1). But Hephaestus' attempt to rape her does not fit neatly into any of these categories. The encounter, though unconsummated, leads to the birth of Erichthonius (#2), but Athena remains in her father's oikos. In a perceptive analysis, Deacy shows how "In her intermediary role between parthenoi and males, she (i.e. Athena) fosters male dominance and control over women through sex and marriage."
Perhaps the most fascinating contribution is Robson's "Bestiality and bestial rape in Greek myth." Robson suggests three points of departure for analyzing these myths: 1) bestiality as pornography, 2) intercourse with a beast as part of hunting ritual, and 3) bestial myths and male initiation rituals. In some cases the adolescent girl is "identified with the 'Animal'," and rape or marriage is "the final stage of the taming process begun by female puberty rites." In other myths, either a "god is transformed into an animal and rapes the girl" or "the girl is transformed into an animal but is nonetheless raped," or "both god and girl are changed into animals." In many of these myths the woman resists unsuccessfully and the "resulting message for the girl, if we may call it this, is that since there is no escaping male control, a woman might as well submit in an appropriate context, that is, within the context of the mores of human society and the city-state." On the other hand, if a woman falls in love with a beast, the "offspring are always wild." These myths, therefore, "have the effect of defining what sexual behavior is suitable for woman: a woman must submit to an appropriate male, and must not herself be the instigator of the sexual act." Robson's essay is valuable not only for its useful collection of material but also for approaching the material from several different perspectives. Unlike Ogden and Omitowoju, Robson does not attempt to force the evidence to fit one pattern and understands that sexual violence can have a different meaning in different contexts. I highly recommend this essay for those teaching courses both about Women in Antiquity and about Greek and Roman Mythology.
The essays on "Athenian Legal Discourse" are much weaker. Ogden examines the Athenians laws about adultery and rape to determine whether they aimed at protecting bloodlines, as Harrison believed, or to protect the personal honor of the woman or that of her husband and male relatives. Ogden argues that the clause of the law of Draco about homicide permitting men to kill another man caught on top of his wife, mother, sister, daughter or concubine "did aim primarily at the protection of bloodlines: the protection of personal dignity of the 'victim' seems to be ruled out by the omission of male relatives as 'victims' from the clause, and by the failure to distinguish between consensual and non-consensual sex" (26). I find neither of these arguments convincing. First of all, acts of rape are often described as acts of hybris or atimia, which indicates that the Athenians did view them as threats to honor.(5) Second, the clause in Draco's law covers both unmarried women and concubines. Ogden admits that the "impregnation of an unmarried woman admittedly constitutes a less direct threat to bloodline than does that of a married one," but suggests "a woman that experienced sex with any man other than her husband was liable to acquire a taste for extra-marital adventures in the future, thus vitiating her reliability as a wife." That is certainly true for the woman who is seduced, but Lysias (1.33) says the woman who is raped hates her assailant. There is no indication the Athenians thought rape would encourage a woman "to acquire a taste for extra-marital adventures." On the other hand, Ogden fails to note that the law also covers sex with a pallake for the production of free children. Since the children of a pallake would be nothoi and thus incapable of becoming kleronomoi and gaining control of the paternal oikos, the law cannot be concerned solely with protecting bloodlines and legitimacy.
Ogden goes on to claim "the law treated men that committed rape and men that committed adultery in broadly similar ways, and likewise treated the women involved in these different offenses in broadly similar ways" (27). He rightly follows Foxhall and Cantarella in rejecting Cohen's mistaken view that moicheia covered only adultery and reviews the penalties for moichoi.(6) Ogden is correct to conclude that the penalties for rape and seduction were equally severe for the male offender, but women who submitted to moichoi were subject to harsh penalties while there is no evidence the victims of rape suffered any legal disabilities. Moreover, Lysias clearly distinguishes between rape and seduction and their effects on the women involved. Ogden points to Gorgias' Encomium of Helen, where the sophist defends Menelaus' wife on four grounds" and argues "to most Greek eyes she was equally guilty whether raped or adulterous" (32). In Euripides Troades (914-1032), however, Helen thinks it worthwhile to claim that the gods forced her to follow Paris against her will, and Andromache thinks it makes a difference whether or not she followed Paris willingly.(7) Nor am I convinced by his claim that rape caused pollution. O. bases his claim on the use of the word a)lith/rioj by Charisius at Men. Epitrepontes 894. But the word need mean nothing more than "accursed," and there is no indication that the men who raped young women in New Comedy had to undergo purification before they married their victims.
Even more unconvincing is Rosanna Omitowoju's "Regulating Rape: soap operas and self-interest in the Athenian courts." The essay begins well: Omitowoju rightly stresses the importance of consent in modern definitions of rape. She also correctly observes that the ancient Athenians paid little attention to the consent of the victim when describing acts of rape, arguing that the "the most crucial issue in the regulation of heterosexual relations is status." This means that it was possible to bring a charge of hybris against a man who committed rape if and only if the victim was respectable. If the status of the victim was low, one could not label the offense hybris. The main difficulty with her argument is that the two main pieces of evidence she discusses indicate precisely the opposite.
The first passage comes from Apollodorus' speech against Neaira ([Dem.] 59.33-7) Apollodorus describes how Neaira's lover Phrynion treated her "wantonly and without restraint" (a)selgw=j kai\ propetw=j ) by taking her to parties and having sex with her openly whenever he wanted. At one party she became drunk and had sex with several men including some slaves. Later, after leaving Phrynion, she described to her new lover Stephanos Phrynion's hybris toward her. The evidence would appear incontrovertible - Phrynion's sexual abuse of the freedwoman and former prostitute Neaira is called hybris. Instead of facing up to the clear implications of the evidence, Omitowoju tries to explain the passage away. She notes that the only time Apollodorus uses the word hybris to describe Neaira's rape he places the word in her mouth and that "his description of Phrynion's behavior pointedly avoids such an appellation." The adverbs a)selgw=j and propetw=j Apollodorus uses instead "denote the public opinion of such behavior rather than its effects on Neaira." She contrasts the adverb a)selgw=j which is "used of behavior which has no particular victim" with the term hybris, which "is not a term which denotes an activity per se, but a relational term" and "seeks to police an encounter according to the differing apportionment of honor of its protagonists."
Her attempt to explain the evidence away fails to convince. First, she arbitrarily dismisses MacDowell's view that hybris is "having energy or power and misusing it self-indulgently" and prefers to follow Fisher's view of the term. While Fisher is certainly right to stress the importance of dishonor in the analyzing hybris, Cairns (JHS 116  1-32) has recently shown that ancient authors tend to view hybris as a disposition, and the term is often used where there is no victim who is dishonored. Thus a)selgw=j, the term used by Apollodorus to describe Phrynion's treatment of Neaira, is similar to hybris and its cognates and can "be used of behavior which has no particular victim." Second, and most damaging to her thesis, is the fact that a)selgw=j and its cognates frequently occur as synonyms of hybris. For instance, at Dem. 21.1 we find: a)selgei/an ... kai\ th\n u(/brin MacDowell (Demosthenes Against Meidias [Oxford 1990] ad loc.) comments "No particular distinction between a)selgei/an and u(/brij is intended here" and observes that "the two words may appear to be simply synonyms. Often a)se/lgeia like u/brij refers to a self-indulgent and extravagant way of life... and sexual misconduct (e.g. 59.114, Isai. 3.13; Ais. 1.137)." Or take Dem. 54.13: here Ariston speaks of th\n u(/brin kai\ th\n a)selgei/an inflicted on him by Conon's sons. As Carey and Reid note in their excellent commentary on the passage, "the word in this context is virtually synonymous with u(/brij ."(8) Omitowoju should also have noted that Apollodorus at 59.35 reports that Neaira prou)phlaki/zeto u(po\ Fruni/wnoj and that this verb is frequently found as a synonym of hybris.(9) Apollodorus therefore uses the phrase a)selgw=j kai\ propetw=j to describe Phrynion's treatment of Neaira not because he wished to avoid using the term hybris, thus promoting her status. On the contrary, he is using synonyms of hybris at 59.33 for the sake of stylistic variatio. In sum, Omitowoju's attempt to read significance into Apollodorus' choice of words rests on a misunder-standing of his choice of language.
Omitowoju next struggles to evade the implications of Dinarchus 1.23. The passage clearly states that the Athenians punished Themistius of Aphidna with death because committed hybris against a Rhodian lyre-player during the Eleusinia (th\n (Rodi/an kiqari/strian u(/brisen )Eleusini/oij. The victim is clearly a metic or foreigner of low status: profession of lyre-player was not a respectable one. This time act of sexual violence against a woman of low status not only called hybris but successfully prosecuted and severely punished by an Athenian court. Omitowoju arbitrarily denies that the crime might have involved sexual violence though other scholars such as Doblhofer disagree (Vergewaltigung in der Antike 52). Yet normally when a man commits hybris against a woman, it refers to an act we would call rape. Omitowoju knows this and in fact cites several passages to show this is true in her note 12. For Omitowoju to exclude this passage from consideration, she would have to find a passage where a man commits hybris against a woman and the context allows us to rule out the possibility of sexual assault. But Omitowoju does not support her interpretation in this way. Instead she suggests the possibility that "Themistios was charged under probole, a special action involving offenses." This argument unfortunately rests on a misunderstanding of the probole, which was not the name of an action, but a way of initiating an action by bringing a charge in the Assembly and asking for a preliminary vote. After the probole the prosecutor continued by bringing a specific charge before the proper magistrate just as Demosthenes brought a charge of hybris against Meidias before the Thesmothetai after initiating his suit by a probole in the Assembly.(10)
She further suggests that the Athenians convicted Themistius because his offense occurred during the Eleusinia; I find it more likely that the circumstances account for the severity of the penalty.
Omitowoju also does not take account of the fact that charge of hybris could be brought against someone who insulted a slave - the law of hybris is quite explicit on this point (Aeschin. 1.15 and Dem. 21.48-50). If law allowed prosecution for hybris when the victim was a slave, a fortiori there is no reason to believe it would exclude prosecutions on behalf of free women of low status. The issue of status and honor in sexual violence is more complex than Omitowoju allows: though slaves per se had no honor and women had less honor than men, they could share in the honor of their masters or kyrioi, who controlled and protected them. As Gaius (Institutes 3.222) observes: "No outrage is considered to be done to the slave himself, but to the master through him" (servo autem ipsi quidem nulla iniuria intelligitur fieri, sed dominio per eum fieri videtur). An insult to a dependent was thus an insult to the honor of her protector. When a man dishonored a woman by having sex with her against her will, not only her honor but the honor of her kyrios was at stake. For instance, when the Boeotian women Molpia and Hippo were raped by Spartan officers and their father Skedasos was unable to obtain justice from the Spartan authorities, Skedasos committed suicide out of shame at his inability to avenge their honor (Paus. 9.13.5-6; D.S. 15.54.2-3. Cf. X. Hell. 6.4.7). The lawcode of Gortyn indicates that the status of the victim determined only the amount of the penalty for sexual violence, not the nature of the offense.
Omitowoju tries to find additional support by arguing that one could not bring a charge of moicheia unless the woman were respectable. She sensibly rejects Cohen's view that moicheia sexual transgression of wedded wives.(11) She proceeds to argue "the woman involved need not be a wife to make an accusation of moicheia appropriate, but she needs to be respectable." But when Epainetos, when accused of seducing Neaira's daughter, asserts he did not commit moicheia, he does not mention her social status but rather points to the fact that Stephanos was not the daughter's kyrios and that her mother knew she was having sex with her daughter ([D.] 59.67). This indicates that the essence of moicheia was having sex with a woman without the consent of her kyrios. Epainetos then cites a different law forbidding prosecution for moicheia if the woman was a prostitute. But neither law requires that prosecutions for the offense could be brought only if the woman was respectable. Furthermore, it was permissible to kill a man caught raping (or seducing) a pallake, a woman whose status was less respectable than that of a woman joined to a man by engye. Omitowoju is right to stress the importance of time when analyzing sexual violence in Classical Athens. The flaws in her essay stem from her misconceptions about the relationship of time and social status and her attempt to force the evidence to fit her preconceived notions. S. Goldhill, who read the essay and commented on it twice (18, n. 1), must shoulder part of the blame for these flaws.
Like many collections of essays by different authors, this is a mixed bag. Yet there are enough good essays in the volume to make it worth buying. The essays of Deacy, Pierce, Robson, Kilmer, Harrison, and Saunders certainly serve as a better introduction to the evidence and to the main issues than D. Cohen's unreliable chapters on rape and adultery in his Law, Sexuality, and Society: The Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens. But we are still in need of a work that can answer the question "Why didn't rape exist in the ancient world?"
Edward M. Harris
Department of Classics
Brooklyn College and
The Graduate School/CUNY
Brooklyn, NY 11210
1. Susan Deacy and Karen Pierce, eds. Rape in Antiquity: Sexual Violence in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Duckworth: London 1997. Pp. x + 274. Price £40. ISBN 0-7156-2754-6.
2. See the review by R. Bagnall in BASP 32 (1995) 65-86. I would like to thank Professor Bagnall for sending me a copy of his review and drawing my attention to Beaucamp's book.
3. Kilmer has a more detailed discussion of the issue in his Greek Erotica (London 1993) 159-69.
4. See Calvin Sims, "Justice in Peru: Victim gets rapist for a husband," New York Times, March 12, 1997, pp. A1, 12.
5. Ogden realizes that some acts of rape could be prosecuted by a graphe hybreos. In note 38, however, he misrepresents my position about the possibility of capital punishment on this charge (CQ 40 (1990) 373).
6. When discussing raphanidosis as a punishment for moicheia, Ogden should have included a reference to Carey's article "Return of the Radish or just when you thought it was safe to go back into the kitchen," LCM 18.4, which refutes the attempt of Cohen (ZSS 101  385-7 and J. Roy (LCM 16.5  73-6) to dismiss the evidence for the practice found in Old Comedy.
7. Ogden implausibly claims that "a husband that had come to recognise his own infertility might be tempted to encourage his wife to a little discreet infidelity, to provide him with an heir." This ignores the possibility of adoption, which did not carry the risk of possible exposure and humiliation. On adoption see the important monograph of Lene Rubinstein, Adoption in IV. Century Athens (Copenhagen 1993), esp. 62-86 on the motives for adoption.
8. For other examples see Aeschin. 1.107-8: a)se/lgeian ... u(bristh\n ... ti tw=n a)selgesta/twn e)/rgwn; 137: to\ de\ a)selgai/nein ... u(bristou=; Dem. 21.67: mhde\n a)selge\j ... poiou=nti mhd' u(bri/zonti; 76: tou\s u(bri/zontaj a(/pantaj kai\ tou\j a)selgei=j; 81: a)selgw=j ... u(bri/zein 98: a)selgh/j ... u(/brewj 128: ei)s e)/m' a)selgh\j ... e)/m' u(/briken 217: a)selgw=j ... th=s u(/brewj 23.56: mh\ pa/sxwsin u(bristiko\n mhd' a)selge\j ; 24.143: tou\j a)selgei=j ... kai\ tou\s u(bri/zontaj ; 54.2: u(/brij ... a)se/lgeia ; 4: a)selgei/as kai\ u(/brewj Cf. 21.19, 80, 125-26, 138. For Demosthenes' use of pleonasm in general see D. H. Dem. 58 and Ronnet Étude sur le style de Démosthène dans les discours politiques (Paris 1951) 71-73).
9. See Dem. 9.60: u(brizeto kai\ prou)phlaki/zeq' u(po\ tou= dh/mou; 21.7: u(/brisai me\n e)gw\ kai\ propephla/kistai to\ sw=ma tou)mo\n ...; 22.58: u(/bristai kai\ propephla/kistai; 23.120: u(/brise kai\ prou)phla/kisen; 25.50: u(/brizwn .. prophlaki/zwn; 36.47: u(bri/zeij ... prophlaki/zeij; 30.36: u(bristikw=j pa/nu kai\ prophlastikw=j; 18.12: kai\ u(/brin kai\ loidori/an kai\ prophlakismo\n o(mou= with Wankel's valuable note ad loc.
10. For the procedure see my "Demosthenes' Speech against Meidias," HSCP 92 (1989) 117-36 and Review-Discussion: MacDowell's edition of Demosthenes' Against Meidias, CP 87 (1992) 71-80 correcting MacDowell).
11. Her point is not original: Cohen's idea was already demolished by Eva Cantarella and Lin Foxhall in papers presented in 1990 and published in 1991, which Omitowoju passes over in silence. Ogden in the following essay (39-40) knows both of these articles and gives the authors credit.