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Hellenistic Inscriptions: 24


MANUMISSION OF FEMALE SLAVES AT DELPHI

Approximately a thousand Greek inscriptions have been found at Delphi, recording the manumission of slaves in the period between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D., through fictitious sales to the god Apollo. It is not clear how these fictitious sales evolved, or what advantages they offered as compared with secular contracts.

Most of the inscriptions are very formulaic in their wording. Twelve of them are translated here; two other manumission contracts have been translated by M.Austin in "The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest" ( no. 147 ), and another twelve have been translated into French by Claire Tuan. For examples of Greek manumission through consecration to a god in other places, see inscription 54 ( Susa ), inscription 55 ( Chaironeia ) and SEG_20.325 ( Hyrcania ).

Just over 60% of the inscriptions record the manumission of female slaves. For an analysis of the female manumission contracts, see C.W.Tucker, "Women in the Manumission Inscriptions at Delphi" ( TAPhA, 1982 ). Tucker states that the average price for the manumission of an adult woman in this period was between three and five minas, which was 20% less than for a man.

Some of the manumission contracts shown here (B, D , E , G & K) include a paramone clause, which requires the freed slaves to remain with their ex-masters or to perform certain functions for them. See the recent discussion by J.D.Sosin, "Manumission with Paramone: Conditional Freedom?" ( PDF ).


[A]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1708 ,   Date: c. 160/59 B.C.

The provision in this contract for the support of Meda's parents is unusual; they had probably provided the money for their daughter's manumission.

When Amphistratos was archon, in the month of . . ., Timo daughter of Eudikos, with the consent of her son Ladikos, sold a young slave girl whose name is Meda, for the price of two minas of silver, on these conditions. Accordingly Meda has entrusted the sale to the god, on condition that she shall be free and unseizable 10 by anyone for her whole life, and shall do whatever she wishes. Guarantor according to the laws of the city: Dromokleidas.

Meda shall support her own father Sosibios and her mother Soso and shall take care of them, when she becomes of age, if Sosibios or Soso have need of support or care, regardless of whether they are still slaves or if they have become free. If Meda does not support or care for Sosibios or Soso when they have need of it, Sosibios and Soso shall have the power 20 to punish Meda in whatever manner they wish, and anyone else whom Sosibios or Soso instructs shall have the power to punish her on behalf of Sosibios or Soso. If anyone seizes Meda to enslave her, the vendor Timo and the guarantor Dromokleidas shall provide surety of the sale to the god; if they do not provide this, the vendor and the guarantor shall be liable to pay compensation of four minas to Meda and Sosibios and Soso, according to the law. Similarly anyone who meets her shall be authorised to take Meda away as a free woman, without being subject to prosecution in respect to 30 all legal process and fines, as long as he takes her away to her freedom.

Witnesses:


[B]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1715 ,   Date: c. 161/0 B.C.

Note that the sons of this slave woman have the same names as her owner and her owner's father.

When Kaphis of Phanotis was general [of the Phocians], in the third month, and when Andronikos was archon at Delphi, in the month of Poitropios, Agamestor of Lilaia, the son of Telestas, [sold] to Pythian Apollo a female slave whose name is Zopyra, a Thracian by race, [and] two home-born male slaves, whose names are Agamestor and Telestas, for the price of seven minas of silver, on the following terms. Accordingly Zopyra , Agamestor and Telestas [have entrusted] the sale price to the god, on condition that they shall be free and unseizable by anyone for their whole life; and they shall remain by Agamestor for as long as he lives. Guarantor according to the contract: Polygnotos of Lilaia, the son of Polyxenos.

Witnesses:

The sale contract was deposited with Xenokrates of Delphi and Kallixenos of Lilaia.

[C]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1722 ,   Date: 158/7 B.C.

Adapted from the translation by M.Reinhold, "Jewish Life and Thought among Greeks and Romans" ( 1996 - Google Books ).

When Archon son of Kallias was archon, in the month of Endyspoitropios, Ateisidas son of Orthaios sold to Pythian Apollo three women slaves whose names are Antigona, of Jewish origin, and her daughters Theodora and Dorothea, at the price of seven silver minas, and he has the whole price. Guarantor according to the law of the city: Eudokos of Delphi, the son of Praxias. Accordingly Antigona, Theodora and Dorothea have entrusted the sale to the god, on condition that they be free and unencumbered in every respect for all their lives. But if anyone seizes them to reduce them to slavery, the vendor Ateisides and the guarantor Eudoxos shall provide surety. If the vendor and the guarantor do not provide surety, they shall be subject to prosecution according to the law. Likewise also, those who meet the women shall be empowered to take them away as free persons, without being subject to prosecution in respect to all legal process and fines.

Witnesses:


[D]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1747 ,   Date: 165 B.C.

In this contract, the paramone is extended until the marriage of the owner's son. The boy's mother, who is not mentioned in the contract, was probably no longer alive.

When Menesthenes of Hyampolis, the son of Krinolaos, was general of the Phocians, in the eighth month as the Phocians reckon; and when Theoxenos son of Kallias was archon at Delphi, in the month of Herakleios; Euphranor of Lilaia, the son of Kallikrites, with the consent of Euphranor's son Timangelos and his daughter Xeno, sold to Pythian Apollo a female slave whose name is Phalakra, in origin an Aetolian from Kallipolis, at the price of four minas, on these terms. Euphranor possesses the entire price, and accordingly Phalakra has entrusted the sale price to the god, on condition that she shall be free and unseizable by anyone for all her life, and may go wherever she wishes. Guarantors according to the law: Dion of Delphi, the son of Aristoboulos, and Aris... of Lilaia, the son of Nikeas.

Phalakra shall remain by Euphranor for [as long as] Euphranor lives, doing everything possible that she is told to do. If Euphranor suffers anything {dies} before his son Timangelos takes a wife, Phalakra shall remain by Timangelos until he takes a wife, doing everything possible that she is told to do. If Phalakra fails to remain as is written here, the sale shall be invalid.

Witnesses:


[E]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1798 ,   Date: 168/7 B.C.

The status of children born to a woman during paramone may have been unclear; this contract has to state explicitly that any children of Damarchis will be free.

When Kleon was archon, in the month of Poitropios, Theodora daughter of Polyon, with the agreement of her sister Herakleia and Kleondas son of Kleomachos, sold to Pythian Apollo a homebred female slave whose name is Damarchis, for the price of four minas of silver, and Theodora possesses the entire price. Guarantors according to the law: Menestratos son of Eucharidas and Dromikleidas son of Hagion. Accordingly Damarchis has entrusted the sale to the god, on condition that she shall be free and unseizable by anyone for all her life.

Damarchis shall remain with Theodora for as long as Theodora lives, doing everything possible that she is told to do. Whatever Damarchis acquires while she is staying with Theodora shall belong to Damarchis. Similarly if Damarchis has any offspring while Theodora is alive and she is staying with Theodora, the offspring shall be free and unseizable by anyone for all their life, in the same way as Damarchis, both if she has one child and if she has several children.

Witnesses:


[F]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1803 ,   Date: 172 B.C.

It is remarkable that this contract stipulates that Hedyla would in future be regarded as the daughter of Dorema. Dorema herself had started life as a slave, before being manumitted by Nikon in 184 B.C. (see K ). By 157/6 B.C. Dorema was a slave-owner, and with the consent of Hedyla she manumitted a young slave-girl called Melissa. ( FD_3.3.8 ).

When Aiakidas was archon, in the month of Ilaios, Nikon son of Theoxenos sold to Pythian Apollo a female slave whose name is Ionis, at the price of three minas, on these terms. Accordingly Ionis has entrusted the sale to the god, on condition that she shall be free and unseizable by anyone for all time. Guarantor: Kleodamos son of Kleon. If anyone seizes Ionis, whoever meets her shall be empowered to take Ionis away as a free woman, without being subject to prosecution in respect to all legal process and fines.

Nikon son of Theoxenos also sold to Pythian Apollo a young girl whose name is Hedyla, at the price of one and a half minas, on these terms. Hedyla shall be free and unseizable by anyone for all time; she shall be regarded as the daughter of Dorema and shall shall do for Dorema whatever is normally done for parents. If anyone seizes Hedyla, Dorema or whoever else is willing shall be empowered to take Hedyla away as a free woman, without being subject to prosecution in respect to all legal process and fines. Guarantor: Kleodamos.

Witnesses:


[G]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1826 ,   Date: c. 161/0 B.C.

Adapted from the translation by D.Kamen, "Slave-prostitutes and manumission in Ancient Greece" (CJ, 2014 - PDF ).

When Andronikos son of Phrikidas was archon, in the month of Ilaios, Eukrates son of Epikrates, with his son Kleon also consenting, sold to Pythian Apollo a female slave named Euphrosyna, a Thracian by race, on these terms, at a price of three minas of silver, and Eukrates holds the whole payment, since Euphrosyna entrusted the sale to the god, in order that she be free and unseizable by everyone for all her life. Guarantor in accordance with the law of the city: Pasion son of Kleon.

And Euphrosyna shall remain by Eukrates as long as Eukrates lives, doing everything ordered as blamelessly as possible. And if Eukrates suffers anything {i.e. dies}, let Euphrosyna be free, master of herself, and going wherever she wants, since she entrusted the payment to the god. And if anyone seizes Euphrosyna for re-enslavement after Eukrates has died, let the guarantor present the sale to the god as secure, in accordance with the law. Likewise also let passers-by be responsible for taking her back, on the grounds that she is free, being neither punished nor liable to any judgment or penalty.

Witnesses:


[H]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1842 ,   Date: 170-156 B.C.

A manumission price of ten minas is unusually high; Sosikrateia's expertise as a flute-player probably made her more valuable to her owner. Because the owner lived in Locris, this contract is dated by the Locrian magistrates, and not as elsewhere by the archon of Delphi.

When Philonikos of the Dymanes was agonothete of Locris, in the tenth month, and when Polykles was archon at Physkos, in the month of Hychaios, Euandros of Kyra, with the consent of his wife Damylla and his son Xenias and his daughter Sokrateia, sold to Pythian Apollo a homebred female slave, a skilled flute-player whose name is Sosikrateia, for the price of ten minas of silver, to obtain her freedom. Surety for payment, according to the law: Ariston of Physkos, the son of Dioitas, and Zeuxis of Physkos, the son of Damokles.

Witnesses: Damophilos, Pamphaidas, Nikomachos, Krinias son of Leontios, Kallistratos son of Damokritos, Diotimos, Zeuxis son of Leon, Boutheras son of Damarchos, Melanthos, Eunikos and Sophilos.

[I]   Greek text: SGDI_2.1867 ,   Date: 176 B.C.

It is difficult to know how the slaves managed to collect enough money to pay for their manumission. This contract contains a provision for staged payments of the price.

When Melission was archon, in the month of Ilaios, Damokrateia of Delphi, the daughter of Damocharis, sold to Pythian Apollo a female slave whose name is Sosicha, at the price of three minas, on condition that she shall remain with Damokrateia for six years, paying half a mina each year. If Damokrateia suffers anything {dies}, Sosicha shall pay the half mina to Kalleidas son of Gorgippos or to whoever Damokrateia instructs. The period shall start in the month of Apellaios when Xenochares is archon {summer 176 B.C.} If the six years have passed, Sosicha shall be free and her own mistress for the whole of her life, and accordingly Sosicha has entrusted the sale price to the god. Guarantor, if the money is all paid: Xenostratos. If anyone seizes Sosicha to enslave her, the vendor Damokrateia and the guarantor Xenostratos shall provide surety of the sale to the god; if they do not provide this, anyone who wishes shall be entitled to exact a fine from them on behalf of the god, according to the law. Similarly anyone who meets Sosicha shall be authorised to take her away as a free woman, without being subject to prosecution in respect to all legal process and fines.

Witnesses:


[J]   Greek text: SGDI_2.2001 ,   Date: 197 B.C.

Slave-girls may have been used in royal workshops to produce materials such as wool and textiles.

When Phaineas was general {of the Aetolians}, in the month of Panemos, and when Emmenidas was archon at Delphi, in the month of Boukatios, Dameas, the overseer of the royal works appointed by king Attalos, sold to Pythian Apollo a royal slave-girl named Artemidora, for the price of 43 staters of silver, on the these terms. Accordingly Artemidora has entrusted the sale price to the god, on condition that she shall be free, shall do whatever she wishes, and shall live wherever she wishes. Guarantor in accordance with the law: Etymondas of Delphi.

Witnesses: the priests and private individuals Nikodamos, Orthaios, Polykleitos and Theutimos of Amphissa.

[K]   Greek text: SGDI_2.2084 ,   Date: 184 B.C.

For a later manumission by Nikon that mentions Dorema, see F. Unlike most manumission contracts, after a period of paramone this contract gives Dorema her freedom without any payment - but only if Nikon does not die within 8 years.

With good fortune. When Eukrates was archon, in the month of Ilaios, Nikon disposed as follows concerning Dorema, with the agreement of his daughter Kalliboula. If Nikon lives on for eight years or more, and Dorema remains with him, if Nikon subsequently suffers anything {dies}, she shall be free. If Nikon suffers anything before the eight years are completed, Dorema shall pay to Kalliboula for the remaining time until the eight years are completed half a mina of silver in each year, but shall live away and be mistress of herself. The eight years shall commence with the month of Ilaios in the year when Eukrates is archon. On these terms Nikon gave the sale of Dorema to Pythian Apollo. Guarantor in accordance with the law: Archelaos of Delphi, the son of Thebagoras.

Witnesses:

The sale contract was deposited with Athambos the priest.

[L]   Greek text: SGDI_2.2123 ,   Date: 194 B.C.

In this case, it seems likely that the mother who "entrusted" her daughter to Timon was forced by poverty to sell the girl into slavery; but later she may have collected enough money to make her free again.

When Dikaiarchos of Trichonion was general {of the Aetolians}, in the month of Panemos, and when Peithagoras was archon at Delphi, in the month of Boukatios, Timon of Amphissa, the son of Phillidas, sold to Pythian Apollo a little girl named Eukleia, of Delphian origin, whom her mother entrusted to him, for the price of three minas of silver. Accordingly Eukleia has entrusted the sale to the god, on condition that she shall be free and unseizable, and shall do whatever she wishes. Guarantor in accordance with the law: Lamprias of Amphissa, the son of Alexomenos.

Witnesses:

inscription 25


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