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Herodotus 3.25.3. & slavery

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Herodotus 3.25.3. & slavery

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:47 pm

ἐπείτε δὲ στρατευόμενος ἐγένετο ἐν Θήβῃσι, ἀπέκρινε τοῦ στρατοῦ ὡς πέντε μυριάδας, καὶ τούτοισι μὲν ἐνετέλλετο Ἀμμωνίους ἐξανδραποδισαμένους τὸ χρηστήριον τὸ τοῦ Διὸς ἐμπρῆσαι, αὐτὸς δὲ τὸν λοιπὸν ἄγων στρατὸν ἤιε ἐπὶ τοὺς Αἰθίοπας.

"When he came in his march to Thebes , he detached about fifty thousand men from his army, and directed them to enslave the Ammonians and burn the oracle of Zeus; and he himself went on towards Ethiopia with the rest of his host." (Godley)

Asheri comments on ἐξανδραποδισαμένους: "can be understood in the general sense of 'to subdue' (cf. I 66,3, VI 18) or in that of 'to deport in mass' (cf. I 155,1; 156,2; 161; VI 94,4; 94,2; VII 126,2). The ἀνδράποδα are the prisoners-of-war [...]"

I think Asheri is misguided here. ἀνδράποδα, along with its derivatives, is an ugly word that implies complete loss of human dignity in a very concrete sense. Herodotus does, on occasion, use the image of slavery in a more abstract sense (a bit like it was used in left wing rhetoric in the 19th and 20th century, e.g. in songs such as l'Internationale); however, in those cases Herodotus uses δοῦλος or one of its derivatives. There's no way ἐξανδραποδισαμένους can be understood "in the general sense of 'to subdue'".

Good translators like Waterfield and Legrand render this particular passage by "reduce into slavery/réduire en esclavage" (or "enslave", like Godley), but use, for example, the harmless Latin word "servitude" for δουληίη.

Or what do you think?
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Re: Herodotus 3.25.3. & slavery

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:23 pm

I think the burden of proof is on Asheri to prove that it can be used in the general sense of subdue.
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Re: Herodotus 3.25.3. & slavery

Postby mwh » Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:53 am

What I think is that we should start by looking at the passages Asheri claims “"can be understood in the general sense of 'to subdue' (cf. I 66,3, VI 18).” In both he’s clearly wrong. The first even has the chains.
And ανδροπεδα means more than just “prisoners of war.”
In short, I reckon you’re right, Paul.

I guess it could be said that servitude means the same as slavery (since Lat. servus means slave), but still …. The slave quarters at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation, were identified as “Servants’ quarters” when I visited when I first came to the US. I believe the sugar-coated description been rectified since.
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Re: Herodotus 3.25.3. & slavery

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:58 am

1.95.2. Ἀσσυρίων ἀρχόντων τῆς ἄνω Ἀσίης ἐπ᾽ ἔτεα εἴκοσι καὶ πεντακόσια, πρῶτοι ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν Μῆδοι ἤρξαντο ἀπίστασθαι, καὶ κως οὗτοι περὶ τῆς ἐλευθερίης μαχεσάμενοι τοῖσι Ἀσσυρίοισι ἐγένοντο ἄνδρες ἀγαθοί, καὶ ἀπωσάμενοι τὴν δουλοσύνην ἐλευθερώθησαν. μετὰ δὲ τούτους καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ἔθνεα ἐποίεε τὠυτὸ τοῖσι Μήδοισι.
I think here you can argue that ἐλευθερίη 'freedom' and δουλοσύνη 'subjection' are used in a "general", abstract sense that doesn't necessarily imply complete degradation of human life like ἀνδράποδα.

You could argue that "servant" is derived from "servus" and thus means slave, but that would miss the point. You could also argue that "bold", "courageous", "valiant" and "intrepid" all mean the same.

Emily Wilson, whose Odyssey translation recently appeared, finds it inadmissible that previous translators have translated ἀμφίπολος "handmaid". She renders it "slave", since according to her, it's obvious that those women are slaves. They are, of course, but Homer decided to call them otherwise; is it the translator's job to correct him? I wonder if she also finds fault with title of HBO's excellent series The Handmaid's Tale as well, since the so-called handmaids in the series aren't free either... (I strongly suspect that Margaret Atwood was inspired by Odyssey translations when she decided to call her novel and the characters in it like that.)
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