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Slave Marriages in the Laws of Gortyn: A Matter of Rights?

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This article tackles the long-held view that slaves at Gortyn possessed legal privileges not found in most other Greek slave systems, namely formal, enforceable rights to marry and own property. Combining legal analysis with cross-cultural comparison, it is shown that the complex social arrangements within Gortyn's slave population engendered a variety of problems relating to the property interests of slaveholders. Gortyn's laws on slavery are thus primarily directed at clarifying these issues, not at validating or enforcing slave 'rights.' A comparative approach enables us to understand the rationale behind the complex 'slave marriage' arrangements that produced these legal quandaries.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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  • Historia, first published in 1952 by Karl Friedrich Stroheker and Gerold Walser is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. Articles are in English, German, French and Italian. It features original articles on Greek history, the Roman Republic and Empire as well as late antiquity. It covers all aspects of political, economic, religious and social life and deals with legal, archaeological, numismatic and epigraphical questions.
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