Envy, Poison, & Death: Women on Trial in Classical Athens

ISBN : 9780198822585

Esther Eidinow
448 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Apr 2018
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At the heart of this volume are three trials held in Athens in the fourth century BCE. The defendants were all women and in each case the charges involved a combination of ritual activities. Two were condemned to death. Because of the brevity of the ancient sources, and their lack of agreement, the precise charges are unclear, and the reasons for taking these women to court remain mysterious. Envy, Poison, and Death takes the complexity and confusion of the evidence not as a riddle to be solved, but as revealing multiple social dynamics. It explores the changing factors-material, ideological, and psychological-that may have provoked these events, revealing how these trials provide a vivid glimpse of the socio-political environment of Athens during the early-mid fourth century BCE, including responses to changes in women's status and behaviour, and attitudes to particular supernatural or religious activities within the city.


List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
Part 1: The Women
1.1 Introduction: Overview and Approach
1.2 The Evidence
1.3 What Charges?
1.4 Conclusion
Part 2: Envy
2.1 Introduction: 'As Rust Eats Iron'
2.2 Defining Emotions
2.3 Narratives as Phthonos
2.4 Phthonos and Misfortune
2.5 Conclusion
Part 3: Poison
3.1 Introduction: 'A Relish for the Envious'
3.2 Identifying Gossip
3.3 Genres of Gossip
3.4 From Gossip to Action
3.5 Conclusion
Part 4: Death
4.1 Introduction: 'Killed by Idle Gossip'
4.2 After the War...
4.3 Dependence and Vulnerability
4.4 'Dangerous Women'
4.5 Conclusion

About the author: 

Esther Eidinow is Professor and Chair in Ancient History at the University of Bristol

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