Reciprocity in Ancient Greece

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In this collection of new essays, an international group of experts explores the significance of reciprocity (the principle and practice of voluntary requital, of benefit for benefit or harm for harm) in ancient Greek culture. Reciprocity has been seen as an important notion for anthropologists studying economic and social relations. A key question has been whether reciprocity constitutes an alternative pattern to the commercial, political, and ethical relationships characteristic of modern Western society. This volume takes the question forward in connection with Greek culture from Homer to the Hellenistic period. Building on previous research on this topic (especially on Homeric society), it provides a wide-ranging examination of reciprocity inGreek epic and drama, historiography, oratory, religion, and ethical philosophy. It asks fundamental questions about the importance of reciprocity in different phases of Greek history, the interplay between reciprocity and the ideology of Athenian democracy, and between reciprocity and altruism in ethical thought. Clear and non-technical, with all Greek translated, this volume will make debate on this important subject available to a wide circle of readers in classical, literary, anthropological, and historical studies.