Oaths and Swearing in Ancient Greece (Beitr GE Zur Altertumskunde)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The oath was an institution of fundamental importance across a wide range of social interactions throughout the ancient Greek world, making a crucial contribution to social stability and harmony; yet there has been no comprehensive, dedicated scholarly study of the subject for over a century. This volume of a two-volume study explores the nature of oaths as Greeks perceived it, the ways in which they were used (and sometimes abused) in Greek life and literature, and their inherent binding power.
that events in Book 3 properly belong to an earlier period of the Trojan cycle and have been imported into 23 The second oath expressed in a rage is made as a result of the first. 24 See Graf 1993, 64 on the myths of Heracles as exempla, and see I.C. Rutherford 2011, 110, 121‒2 on Pindar’s use of the labours of Heracles. 56 3 Oaths in traditional myth the Iliad’s narrative from earlier epic sources.25 A further point in support of this is the lack of continuity between books 2 and 3. In
Oedipus at Colonus are also expressed in part through “Sophoclean” oathlanguage. It is remarkable that both these plays (Phil. and OC) refer to unsworn statements as oaths in spite of the fact that the person to whom the unsworn pledge was made had explicitly stated that an oath is not required. Most peculiar, however, is the “Sophoclean” oath of the Guard in Antigone in which he effectively casts himself as a perjurer by referring to an unsworn statement as an oath which he has broken. Since
comedy of Cratinus is a flood (Knights 526‒8), Euripides’ poetry is “tangle-fleeced” (fr. 682). The weighing of poetic lines in Frogs presents the poetry of Aeschylus as weighty and that of Euripides as lightweight, and, of course, the Euripidean recognition scene is parodied extensively in Women at the Thesmophoria.118 In extant Aristophanes, Aeschylus (mostly thanks to the Frogs) and especially Euripides feature more prominently as targets of allusion than does Sophocles, but references to the
judgements made by bribe-swallowing judges (WD 219‒21), who, like Perses, put their personal gain above justice.22 The god, again personified as a curse, ensures that whoever has trampled on their oath23 and committed perjury is punished.24 The Hesiodic presentation of Horkos as the curse of the oath goes hand-in-hand with the personified Dike in the same context, who “brings evil to those men who drive her out and do not deal straight” (223‒5). A breach of human justice in Hesiod can involve
Phaedrus). 83 On the associations of gold with Persia and Troy, see Hall 1989, 80‒1 and 127. 84 On oaths of office see further S&B ch. 3. 6.4 Multiple sanctifying features 153 and in a mythical world, the solemnity of the oath of office in Atlantis is increased by the large number of rituals. The kings who swear this oath still have some connection to their divine heritage as descendants of the original ten kings who were sons of Poseidon. As their divinity becomes diluted, however, and