This course will examine the intersection of norms of gender, sexuality, and civic identity in Athenian lawcourt oratory from the 4th century BCE, as well as the disruption of these norms. Surviving legal speeches from ancient Athens typically depict citizenship in crisis and traffic in gossip and scandal; in the process, they offer us a rich and complex source for studying normative identities and how litigants use biographical smear tactics in an attempt to undermine their opponent’s social status and, at the extremes, to cast them out of citizenship and life itself.
We will read and analyze selected speeches by Lysias, Demosthenes, Aeschines (extracts), and Apollodorus in Greek, with particular attention to the ways in which these speeches represent and negotiate categories of identity. Our primary focus will be the translation and interpretation of Athenian lawcourt speeches, informed by scholarship on Athenian rhetoric and law, citizenship in Ancient Athens, gender and sexuality in ancient Greece, and pertinent modern works of gender theory and queer theory. This course is designed to build up competence and confidence in reading and interpreting ancient Greek prose literature. You will also gain familiarity with the processes of Athenian law and relevant Athenian cultural, social, and political history.