Slave-girls’ Goddesses


So in the U.S. (and lots of other places), we really dig the low-born (and occasionally low-brow) hero. Titanic and Shrek are good examples. But the ancient Greeks had a very different class structure than we do, and you’re really not going to find any good heroes (outside of comedy) that weren’t born seriously aristocratic. The same thing tends to go for women. So when, rarely, we actually see a female slave in Greek myth, she tends to be secretly noble. Like Leucippe and Andromache. Even Briseis – the Achilles’ slave girl in the Iliad – was the daughter of the king of the Leleges at Pedasus.

We rarely see the world from a woman’s perspective, but a lower class woman’s perspective or that of a slave-woman (born a slave) virtually never. Slave-girls were considered to be available for sex pretty much whenever by pretty much whoever (with some exceptions). Whether they were kept concubines, flute-girls (mostly a euphemism), or just unlucky house slaves, sex was wholly outside of their control. Not only were they available to their masters, they were not permitted to form their own sexual relationships without their master’s consent. (27 Pomeroy)

Maybe I shouldn’t even be talking about them, since they are so absent from myth. But they must have grown up with many of the same stories. I wonder, which gods and goddesses they saw as sympathetic. Surely not the aristocratic Athena, but I’d be willing to bet that at least some became supplicants of Aphrodite.


One response to “Slave-girls’ Goddesses”

  1. I just came across your blog and I like it. Since you mentioned Andromache in this post, I’ll pass this along. I am currently reading a book called Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell. It is a historical fiction approach to the Trojan war and it follows primariloy three characters. Two are male but the third is Andromache. At the point I am in the reading, she is indeed both noble and slave and this book does a great job showing how one can be both. Just thought you’d might like it.

    -Mark Alford

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