Hollanda Araştırma Enstitüsü  -  Nederlands Instituut in Turkije

3 Apr 18:30

Lecture Freedom in slavery. Status and agency in inscribed epigrams from the Greek East, 3rd cent BC - 3rd cent AD

Laurens E. Tacoma (Leiden University)

ANAMED Auditorium, ANAMED Auditorium

3 Apr 18:30 - 19:30

You are invited to the lecture Freedom in slavery. Status and agency in inscribed epigrams from the Greek East, 3rd cent BC - 3rd cent AD by Laurens E. Tacoma (Leiden University, Department of History) on April 3, 2024, at 18.30 at the Anamed Auditorium. 

How did enslaved humans move through the confined space that was allotted to them? What were the boundaries of their agency? In this lecture I will present some work from a book project co-authored with Rolf Tybout on the world of the Greek funerary epigrams from the Greek East in the Hellenistic and Roman period. Epigrams consist of short verse inscriptions. Hundreds of such commemorative poems survive from all over the Greek world, the majority dating to the Roman period. In the ancient world funerary texts were much more relational and communicative than nowadays: as people entered or left the city, they encountered along the road series of texts and monuments almost literally spoke to them and made claims about the deceased and commemorators. Funerary epigrams can therefore be read as a form of self-representation that take as their basis major life events of the individual that was commemorated; they offer patterned glimpses of the ways people constructed their world and positioned themselves in urban society. Although the use of versified texts was hardly confined to the local elites, they certainly displayed an upward bias. They depict a civic world in which commemorators demarcated the identity of the deceased through a display of cultural competence. Somewhat remarkably however, a number of these epigrams are made for and by slaves. In my lecture I discuss how the status ambiguities between slaves and masters were negotiated in the texts, and what that can tell us about the agency of the enslaved persons in the cities that dotted the Greek East.

About the location

ANAMED Auditorium
Tomtom Mah. Istiklal Cad. No 181, Merkez Han
34433 Istanbul