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Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greeceby Debra Hamel
Synopses & Reviews
Neaira grew up in a Corinthian brothel in the fourth century B.C., became a high-priced courtesan and a sex slave, then settled into a thirty-year relationship with Stephanos of Athens. But next she found herself in court, charged with transgressing Athenss marriage laws. This book reconstructs the amazing facts of Neairas life and trial, illuminating the social, legal, and cultural worlds of ancient Greece.
Hamels treatment of this complicated story is outstanding . . . for its comprehensive [yet remarkably concise] presentation of the social and historical context of fourth-century Athens.”—Ingrid D. Rowland, New Republic
[Trying Neaira] is an extraordinary tale, with more than an echo of Arthur Goldens Memoirs of a Geisha.”—Tom Holland, Daily Telegraph00
A marvelous account of a fascinating series of events in the life of a Greek woman of the fourth century B.C. Hamel tells the tale with clarity and verve and, along the way, she teaches the reader a vast amount about Athenian society in the most interesting and entertaining way.”—Donald Kagan, Yale University
Charmingly written (and) nicely illustrated. . . . Hamels account is engaging, accessible to nonexperts, and useful for courses on Athenian society.”—Choice
As told by Debra Hamel, this true-life story offers an extraordinary window on a civilization that wasnt half so rarefied in its interests or affections as we tend to assume.”—The Scotsman
Neaira grew up in a Corinthian brothel in the fourth century B.C., became a high-priced courtesan and a sex slave, then settled into a thirty-year relationship with Stephanos of Athens. But next she found herself in court, charged with transgressing Athens's marriage laws. This book reconstructs the amazing facts of Neaira's life and trial, illuminating the social, legal, and cultural worlds of ancient Greece.
Neaira grew up in a Corinthian brothel in the fourth century B.C. and became one of the city-state's priciest courtesans while yet a teenager. In her twenties she served as the sex slave of two former clients and endured an abusive relationship with an unsavory Athenian. Finally she met Stephanos, an Athenian citizen with whom she lived for the next thirty years. Neaira's life with Stephanos was riddled with lawsuits. In the 340s Neaira was dragged into court and charged with transgressing Athens' marriage laws. During the trial, zealous prosecutors dredged up the most sordid details of her life. The stakes in the case were high; Neaira's freedom lay in the jurors' hands. The details of Neaira's life are known because the speech delivered in court by her prosecutor has survived. Here, with a more sympathetic eye toward the protagonist, Debra Hamel explains the historical, legal, and cultural context of the trial. In reconstructing the facts of Neaira's life, this book illuminates the social world of ancient Greece.
About the Author
Debra Hamel is the author of Athenian Generals: Military Authority in the Classical Period.
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