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.
Hamel’s 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 Golden’s 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. . . . Hamel’s 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 wasn’t half so rarefied in its interests or affections as we tend to assume.”The Scotsman
In the future, this work will be a part of reading lists for courses on the Greek orators. Hamel (Athenian Generals: Military Authority in the Classical Period) has taken the speech Against Neaira by Apollodoros and written a commentary on Athenian culture of the fourth century B.C.E. The work deals with the social mores of the period in abundant detail. Indeed, when focusing on the orator's privilege of manipulating the facts, Hamel's grasp of the current scholarship on Athenian law is formidable. She estimably deciphers the convolutions of Neaira's life as a courtesan in Corinth and Athens. Logically enough, a speech about a prostitute's prosecution for breaking the state's marriage laws would say much about that institution and the status of women of all stations, and certainly Hamel describes numerous aspects of the demes and the attendant qualifications for citizenship, including comprehensive descriptions of the trial process and the role of the jury in Athens's court system. Any scholar will enjoy this well-documented work. Recommended for upper division undergraduate and graduate students.-Clay Williams, Hunter Coll., New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.