family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

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family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by bpk » Thu May 09, 2019 8:17 am

I was wondering if there is any sharp/clear/or blurry distinction between these terms. I am sure they vary by style and author, but is there any way one could come up with a general division between them (if one had to pick a primary meaning):

perhaps οἰκία and οἰκεῖος refers to the nuclear family and members of household whereas συγγένεια and συγγενής is a catchall for all relatives?

Or could οἰκεῖος refer to an uncle living in another city?

Any help is appreciated!

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Thu May 09, 2019 9:10 am

οἰκειακός / οἰκιακός, οἰκετεία are good too.

ὁ θεῖος and ὁ νέννος mean uncle. By using the appellation you imply the family relationship.
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by bpk » Thu May 09, 2019 12:06 pm

Thank you!

The specific question I was getting at with uncle is whether or not the θεῖος could be called both an οἰκεῖος and a συγγενής, or if οἰκεῖος was restricted only to the nuclear family/household.

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by jeidsath » Thu May 09, 2019 12:29 pm

οἰκεῖος is pretty loose. Here's Andocides 4.15:

καίτοι ὅστις ὑβρίζει γυναῖκα τὴν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῷ κηδεστῇ θάνατον ἐπιβουλεύει, τί χρὴ προσδοκᾶν τοῦτον περὶ τοὺς ἐντυχόντας τῶν πολιτῶν διαπράττεσθαι; πάντες γὰρ ἄνθρωποι τοὺς οἰκείους τῶν ἀλλοτρίων ποιοῦνται περὶ πλείονος.
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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by bpk » Thu May 09, 2019 2:01 pm

That's a helpful quote, Joel, thank you.

I assume that the κηδεστής Callias lived in another house, right?

With the semantic range of οικειος being rather wide, presumably it might have had more technical usages in certain contexts. In the Andocides example, the οικειος is contrasted with the πολιται and αλλοτριοι. I wonder if it is ever contrasted with συγγενεις or even φιλοι, in which case perhaps it takes a more restricted meaning?

If anyone knows any good examples that would be appreciated.

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by bpk » Thu May 09, 2019 2:17 pm

I found this in Ammonius's Περὶ ὁμοίων καὶ διαφόρων λέξεων (what is the transmission history of this source like, anyone know? reliable?):
ἀγχιστεῖς καὶ συγγενεῖς καὶ οἰκεῖοι διαφέρουσιν. ἀγχιστεῖς μὲν γάρ, οἷς ἐπειδάν τις ἐκ τοῦ γένους ἀποθάνῃ συγχωρεῖ ὁ νόμος ἀντιποιεῖσθαι τῶν τούτου δικαίων· συγγενεῖς δὲ οἱ ὄντες ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ γένους, οὐ καλούμενοι δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν νόμων ἐπὶ τὰ ἀγχιστικὰ δίκαια· οἰκεῖοι δὲ οἱ κατ’ ἐπιγαμίαν ἐπιμιχθέντες τῷ οἴκῳ.
It seems pretty safe to say, then, that συγγενεῖς applies more widely than οἰκεῖοι, but these wider and narrower semantic ranges might mean different things in different contexts.

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by bpk » Thu May 09, 2019 2:21 pm

More help from Ammonius:

οἰκῆας καὶ οἰκείους διαφέρειν φασίν. οἰκεῖοι μὲν γὰρ καὶ οἱ κατ’ ἐπιγαμίαν προσήκοντες, οἰκῆες δ’ ἅπαντες οἱ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ τυγχάνοντες τῇ αὐτῇ, εἴτε οἰκέται εἴτε ἐλεύθεροι


Here, does οἰκεύς only apply to servants or also family members?

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by jeidsath » Thu May 09, 2019 2:27 pm

συγγενεῖς applies more widely than οἰκεῖοι
I didn't take that from the first Ammonius quote. It looks like he is saying that συγγενεῖς are out of the same family, though not quite as closely related as ἀγχιστεῖς, but that οἰκεῖοι include relatives by marriage.
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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by Scribo » Thu May 09, 2019 7:44 pm

I'd be careful of trying to impose hyper specific differences.

Oikos, and derivatives, can function in a few ways: 1) Literally to refer to a building 2) The family (including slaves, cf Roman familia) 3) a descent group from a patriarch. This last one was an important category in Athenian law.

Nuclear family is an unknown concept in ancient Greek thought. It doesn't make sense for them. Incidentally, the first meaning of house, dwelling, building, gets replaced by a Latin word in the Roman period and is what we still use today.
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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by bpk » Fri May 10, 2019 5:58 am

jeidsath wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 2:27 pm
συγγενεῖς applies more widely than οἰκεῖοι
I didn't take that from the first Ammonius quote. It looks like he is saying that συγγενεῖς are out of the same family, though not quite as closely related as ἀγχιστεῖς, but that οἰκεῖοι include relatives by marriage.
What overlap do you think he was implying between οἰκεῖοι and συγγενεῖς? Do you think he is assuming a core that these three terms share and then noting where they differ? Presumably οἰκεῖοι included more than just those who were connected by marriage for Ammonius.

Perhaps all of the terms include your closest family members living in the same house, but ἀγχιστεῖς is limited to just the closest family members, συγγενεῖς extends to further blood relatives, and then oἰκεῖοι also includes those who enter the family (or house?) by marriage.

Or maybe do we not have enough information in this one quote to come to such conclusions. Just thinking out loud hoping for feedback :)

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by bpk » Fri May 10, 2019 6:08 am

Scribo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:44 pm
I'd be careful of trying to impose hyper specific differences.
Agreed. I think part of what I am after is not necessarily distinctions that hold all the time, but trying to figure out what distinctions could be made. Just like how in English we might use the term 'family' in all sorts of ways (nuclear family, relatives, etc.), but there are certain contexts where if we contrast it with other terms like 'my family doesn't like to go see our relatives' then it carries another meaning of just the nuclear family. So I am wondering if there are any situations, specifically in the Koine period, where a Greek-speaker could make such a distinction, even if it did not hold in many/most other instances.
Scribo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:44 pm
Oikos, and derivatives, can function in a few ways: 1) Literally to refer to a building 2) The family (including slaves, cf Roman familia) 3) a descent group from a patriarch. This last one was an important category in Athenian law.
That's helpful. Thank you!
Scribo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:44 pm
Nuclear family is an unknown concept in ancient Greek thought.
I get the point you're making, but Isn't "unknown" a bit too strong a word? Perhaps not as important as in other cultures or more integrated with other social structures, but unknown seems too strong. The idea that father, mother, and children did not see themselves as a group that could be distinguished from the wider group of relatives, non-blood relations, or from slaves/servants living in the same house seems highly unlikely.
Scribo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:44 pm
It doesn't make sense for them. Incidentally, the first meaning of house, dwelling, building, gets replaced by a Latin word in the Roman period and is what we still use today.
Which word are you referring to? φαμίλια? Is οικογένεια more common but φαμίλια used informally? If it is φαμίλια, do you know when it first starts appearing in Greek?

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by bpk » Fri May 10, 2019 6:14 am

Also, I should note that I am particularly interested in the Koine period.

So even if the idea of a nuclear family was not as strong in Athens and the mainland, surely elsewhere in the Mediterranean there were cultures that had a concept of the nuclear family and needed to speak about it in Greek at some point. So even if whatever terms they opted for can be used in all sorts of ways, I am trying to get at how that distinction could/would be made when necessary.

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri May 10, 2019 12:28 pm

bpk wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 6:08 am
Scribo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:44 pm
It doesn't make sense for them. Incidentally, the first meaning of house, dwelling, building, gets replaced by a Latin word in the Roman period and is what we still use today.
Which word are you referring to? φαμίλια? Is οικογένεια more common but φαμίλια used informally? If it is φαμίλια, do you know when it first starts appearing in Greek?
ὁσπίτιον < hospĭtĭum in the sense of "lodgings for guests", "guests' rooms".
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri May 10, 2019 2:20 pm

Where there is no meaning for a word or concept, it may be because it is implied. Where there is a shrap contrast between two meanings, it may be because we are wearing blinkers in expressing the meaning.

For the first point, if someone were to say to you, "I am your colleague", and "We work together", are they making 2 points or 1. Of course it depends on the meaning of "work" (be employed or do a task). If somebody (a onebody) says, "I am your mother", "We are in the same family", is she saying 1 thing or 2? Does, "I am a manager" imply the existence of staff.

You are wondering how a small group of a household can be identified as being a biological subgroup. Father, mother, parents and τέκνα implies what English declares as family. Kinship terms imply kinship.

For the point about seeming contrasts, settling in an area means making and accumulating wealth there, as well as just physically residing there (a shell we sleep in and then commute to the office). Washing clothes in a good way is a means of wealth preservation as much as it is form of hygiene. The verb οἰκονομέω or not just arrange the running of the household for it to function smoothly, but also to increase the wealth and output of the household. With slaves integral to means of production in many cases, they were of course included in the "household" - dwelling together and functioning together economically. Dwelling in a settled way for a long time was a way to accumulate more precious forms of wealth, such as paintings, bronzeware, etc.

If you are trying to map a western neuclear "family" onto οἰκία, it might sort of work. As has been mentioned, it wouldn't be understood in the terms that you might want it to be understood, though. If you explained that the family was too poor to have slaves, the house was small and couldn't accommodate uncles, aunts or grandparents and the house had no arable land, so not only the father, but also the mother had to work out as day labourers, then that might be okay. :lol: :lol:
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: family vs. relatives? οἰκία, οἰκεῖος, συγγένεια, συγγενής

Post by Scribo » Fri May 10, 2019 6:34 pm

Glad you found it helpful!
bpk wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 6:08 am


I get the point you're making, but Isn't "unknown" a bit too strong a word? Perhaps not as important as in other cultures or more integrated with other social structures, but unknown seems too strong. The idea that father, mother, and children did not see themselves as a group that could be distinguished from the wider group of relatives, non-blood relations, or from slaves/servants living in the same house seems highly unlikely.
At the risk of derailing this into a discussion on semantics of classical Greek, not really, no. Don't forget, a father was always someone's son, oftentimes someone's brother etc - how do you properly demarcate? why would you? Especially as houses were often occupied by multiple generations at the same time.

There a few other important ways of thinking about the Greek family, such as the ankhisteia (ἀγχιστεία) for example. Basically, these terms represent their very different sense of family to us.

ἑκηβόλος wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 12:28 pm
bpk wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 6:08 am
Scribo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:44 pm
It doesn't make sense for them. Incidentally, the first meaning of house, dwelling, building, gets replaced by a Latin word in the Roman period and is what we still use today.
Which word are you referring to? φαμίλια? Is οικογένεια more common but φαμίλια used informally? If it is φαμίλια, do you know when it first starts appearing in Greek?
ὁσπίτιον < hospĭtĭum in the sense of "lodgings for guests", "guests' rooms".
Yep! Further shortened to spiti within the last 600 years or so. to ospition > to spiti(on). The lack of of aspiration caused hiatus which was negotiated via rebracketing the vowel.

Now in trying to avoid keeping things too classical, I have ventured into the middle ages with my answer. Sorry. :lol:
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