Qimmik wrote:Other works of literature in which money-based marriage institutions play a role are Jane Austen's novels and Tom Jones, among many others, of course. Like Menander's Aspis, these particular works have a happy ending: the right parties are united not only with one another, but also with the money. The happy ending certainly mitigates, if not nullifies, any element of social criticism directed at the marriage institutions prevailing in the respective societies.
I think the marriage institutions function in these works somewhat like war in Homer: they are inevitable, they are the backdrop for the plot, and they are not treated as either good or bad, though they may potentially result in unhappiness or even suffering. In the Aspis, the epikleros law is apparently swept into irrelevancy by the course of the plot; if criticism were intended, the law would be successfully flouted, but there is no bite where all ends happily within the framework of conventional institutions.
Qimmik wrote: (Which is not to say that Jane Austen doesn't movingly portray the plight of dowerless young ladies in a society where the institution of marriage is based on money, or that happy endings, though now relegated to genre fiction, can't produce great literature.)
It's generally in works where things don't work out happily, such as Hardy, George Eliot, Henry James, Anna Karenina, that criticism is directed at societal institutions which lead to unhappiness or tragedy.
Scribo wrote:I think that's the case too, the law basically helps form the crisis of the play rather than being the theme. I mean I don't think we should downplay the roles Comikoi might have sought for themselves with regards to social ethos or anything but I don't necessarily see this is an example of critique of the law.
It's also worth pointing out that the law itself can't be extricated from the net of circumstances which lead to the law being created: anxiety over the continuation of the oikos (here taken in an abstract rather than physical sense). Several related legal procedures existed. For the longest time fathers could not disinherit sons outside of very narrow reasons. Adoption occurred not, as for us, for the protection of children but for the advantage of the adopter. In fact one was an orphan when a male protector (kyrios) died. Basically, Athenian concerns align very poorly with ours.
It is inefficient of course because once people get used to the idea that they might be forced to take on an extra liturgy under the threat of swapping their wealth with someone else people such doing all sorts of strange things to evade the consequence of such a law. But that is not the result of a different Athenian mindset.Scribo wrote: For an example of just how weird it could be check out the antidosis and the "logic" behind it.
Scribo wrote:If you're interested in Athenian law I can recommend too pretty good volumes. MacDowell's "The Law in Classical Athens" is often available pretty cheaply and is a damn good intro. Slightly beyond that would be S.C Todd's "The Shape of Athenian Law". Somewhat more technical in orientation, also good, these two books seem to be the most commonly recommended introductions to the subject and saved me a lot of trouble tbh. I can't claim to know too much about family law actually outside of where it intersects with religion since it's not very interesting. If you like drama check out the case of Hagnias. We've got two speeches Isaios 11 and Demosthenes 43. Actually maybe we've more? But this is an example of cross generational conflict over an oikos.
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