…is a graffito scratched into a street in the Athenian deme of Thorikos. Who Chares was, and whether he really was as fine a whore as his ‘admirer’ suggests, is anyone’s guess. Graffiti like this, which comment on the sexuality of a person, are common in the ancient world however. Examples are found in Attica, Pompeii, Aphrodisias, Thasos, Thera… along with many other types of texts and images – sometimes lewd, sometimes much more functional – drawn, painted, scratched or charcoaled onto walls of buildings, streets, inside houses, on sanctuaries. Interpreting these however is not always easy and historians, archaeologists and classicists have often had very different approaches and communicated with one another very little. But new research shows the importance of dialogue between these discipline. Graffiti have much to contribute to a variety of very current scholarly debates (from the relationship between text and image, materiality, construction of memory, the performance of emotions, to name but a few). To ignore them, or treat them as curiosities, is to close us off to a colourful, and sometimes surprising, world.
|October 15, 2010||Posted by Claire Taylor under Blog, History|
In any society which champions equality (not to mention liberty and the pursuit of happiness) it is surely of paramount importance that we do not ignore the different concerns and life experiences of those outside of political, social or economic elites, but how can this be achieved in practice? Hearing these voices is difficult in the modern world, but how do we reach these people in past societies? Fourth-century Athens provides a good case study: although the dominant political ideology was one of egalitarianism (albeit a very restricted form of egalitarianism for adult male citizens only), there were considerable inequalities of wealth, status, gender, and class. My research explores the texture of these inequalities and examines the ways in which non-citizens, women and the poor interacted in various ways and contexts with the wealthy citizen elite.