Google full text of our books:


Slaves Tell Tales:
And Other Episodes in the Politics of Popular Culture in Ancient Greece
Sara Forsdyke

Hardcover | 2012 | $46.00 | £38.95 | ISBN: 9780691140056
288 pp. | 6 x 9 | 10 halftones. 1 map.
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400842155 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Chapter 1[PDF] pdf-icon

Google full text of this book:

Most studies of ancient Greek politics focus on formal institutions such as the political assembly and the law courts, and overlook the role that informal social practices played in the regulation of the political order. Sara Forsdyke argues, by contrast, that various forms of popular culture in ancient Greece--including festival revelry, oral storytelling, and popular forms of justice--were a vital medium for political expression and played an important role in the negotiation of relations between elites and masses, as well as masters and slaves, in the Greek city-states. Although these forms of social life are only poorly attested in the sources, Forsdyke suggests that Greek literature reveals traces of popular culture that can be further illuminated by comparison with later historical periods. By looking beyond institutional contexts, moreover, Forsdyke recovers the ways that groups that were excluded from the formal political sphere--especially women and slaves--participated in the process by which society was ordered.

Forsdyke begins each chapter with an apparently marginal incident in Greek history--the worship of a dead slave by masters on Chios, the naming of Sicyon's civic divisions after lowly animals such as pigs and asses, and the riding of an adulteress on a donkey through the streets of Cyme--and shows how these episodes demonstrate the significance of informal social practices and discourses in the regulation and reproduction of the social order. The result is an original, fascinating, and enlightening new perspective on politics and popular culture in ancient Greece.


"[F]ascinating."--William Fitzgerald, Times Literary Supplement

"[T]his book is certainly a welcome opening salvo for exploring the culture of subaltern groups in antiquity."--Kostas Vlassopoulos, Sehepunkte

"This book deserves the careful consideration of every serious Greek historian. Forsdyke has chosen her case studies well, and each one makes for a fascinating discussion. Most importantly, her methodological approach is very effective and should introduce many ancient historians to new avenues of research even where ancient sources are sparse. . . . The main text reads clearly and offers enough (but not too much) introductory and general material to appeal to the non-specialist reader."--Matthew A. Sears, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"[A] most stimulating study of various aspects of Greek popular culture. As one who has tried to do the same, in a rather less 'scientific' way, I can only salute her achievement."--John Dillon, Polis


"In this original and arresting study, Sara Forsdyke explores Greek literature's complex hybrid of elite literary culture and the non-elite, largely oral culture that lies below its surface. She ambitiously examines themes, imagery, and symbolism with a view to detecting subtle traces of sub-elite popular culture as it existed in both free and unfree social contexts. She is as interested, for example, in how slaves tell tales as she is in the tales the masters told themselves about their slaves; there has never before been a book angled quite like this one."--Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge

More Endorsements

Table of Contents:

Figures ix
Acknowledgments xi
Abbreviations xiii

1. Peasants, Politics, and Popular Culture 3

2. Slaves Tell Tales: The Culture of Subordinate Groups in Ancient Greece 37
3. Pigs, Asses, and Swine: Obscenity and the Popular Imagination in Ancient Sicyon 90

4. Revelry and Riot in Ancient Megara: Democratic Disorder or Ritual Reversal? 117
5. Street Theater and Popular Justice in Ancient Greece 144

6. Conclusion 173

Notes 179
Bibliography 239
Index Locorum 261
General Index 265

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Sara Forsdyke:

Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Kobo eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Hardcover : $46.00 ISBN: 9780691140056

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Hardcover  £38.95 ISBN: 9780691140056

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 4/20/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    Archaeology And Ancient History
    More Choices