Salt and Olives: Morality and Custom in Ancient Greece

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Edinburgh University Press, 2004 - Ethics - 217 pages
John Dillon’s exploration of Athenian society vividly brings to life how the ancient Greeks behaved towards each other. How did husbands treat their wives and parents their children? What were the rights enjoyed, and the perils faced, by a courtesan? What were the obligations of love and friendship between men and men, men and women, and men and boys? He shows how slaves were to be treated and what it was like to be a slave or a slave’s child; and asks how, when and why duties to the Gods were fulfilled. The problems of inheritance and the position of widows, daughters and sons are also examined. In each chapter two or more stories drawn from ancient sources give contrasting perspectives on the Greeks’ attitudes and beliefs, and to discussions of the works of literature, history, and philosophy they used to beguile and guide their lives. This thoughtful and entertaining book shows the practical outcomes of ancient Greek thought and literature and how the strange and familiar are mixed in the customs and habits of people living two and half thousand years ago.

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About the author (2004)


John M Dillon is Regius Professor of Greek at the Trinity College Dublin

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