The Exchange of Women: Concubines and Slaves
Questions to Ponder
- What is the evidence for the exchange of women in Homer? Under what circumstances were women exchanged? What is each woman's attitude/response to her new situation? Would one call these women in these passages slaves, concubines, or wives?
- How do the women slaves in Homer compare to those of African-American freed slaves, in particular to Mattie Curtis, Ria Sorrell, and Betty Cofer? What strategies do these women use to survive? What, if any, evidence is there, either in Homer or former slave narratives, for woman to woman relationships? How do these former slave women act toward their masters? Is is similar to how Homeric women in the passages read act toward those in authority?
- In Euripides' Hecuba, how do Hecuba, Polyxena, and the chorus of captive Trojan women respond to captivity? Is there any difference based on age? If so, why? Why are women war captives/slaves shown on the Athenian stage? How does their situation speak to Athenian men watching the play? How would Athenian women respond to these women?
- Gerda Lerner in the Creation of Patriarchy, p. 89, says "the subordination of women provided the conceptual model for the creation of slavery as an institution and the patriarchal family provided the structural model." What evidence do we see from Homer and Euripides that may support her assertion?
- Lerner, p. 96, states that "the distinction between a free married woman and a slave was expressed in degrees of unfreedom." How were the lives of wives, slaves and concubines similar and/or different? Were these rigid categories, or could a woman's status change?