Sunday, November 1, 2015

Has Anything Really Changed?: A look back in time

Recently, for my classics class, I was reading an Ancient Greek Law Case about a woman named Neaera. Neaera, at the time that the case was brought against her former pimp, was almost seventy years old. What he was accused of is complicated and unimportant to the point, however, the two major issues addressed in this case were Neaera's sexual history and the question of her citizenship.

I was intensely frustrated and disappointed when I read this case for the first time. The fact that Neaera was previously a prostitute should have absolutely no bearing upon this case, however, like it would if this case was brought in front of a modern jury, her past served to discredit her. It peeves me that this case from thousands of years ago feels to the modern reader like an episode of Law and Order : SVU. Shouldn't we have stopped judging the sexual pasts of women by now? This is ridiculous. Why does a woman's sexual past contaminate her in the eyes of the public? Not to mention that in this case, Neaerra had not worked as an escort for many years. I admit that I tend to be a very cynical person, but while reading this case, I continue to believe that human nature may never change as much as we would like it to.

Alright, onto the second question of this case. This, along with the amount of vlogbrothers videos I've been watching (links at the bottom) have made me think a lot about what it means to be a citizen or a part of a nation. Neaerra is not an Athenian citizen because of complicated reasons having to do with her coming to Athens from Corinth after pretending to be related to someone else. It's not really relevant to my point, but I'll try to find a place where you can read the case if you're interested and include it at the end of that blog post. The main thing that comes to my mind on this topic is this quote from James Joyce's famously incomprehensible book Ulysses: "A nation is a group of people living in the same place, and also in different places." What really is a nation? Sure, we have people who are technically citizens of the USA, but what about those people who have immigrated here on Visas? What about the families that came here before there were formal rules for citizenship? What are the rules for belonging to any community? How do we know? Can we self identify? These are non-rhetorical questions that I would love to hear your thoughts on (Yes, I know I just ended my sentence with a preposition. It's my blog, be quiet). I'm planning on doing a whole blog post on communities and this quote with regards to immigration, probably later this month.

Questions? My email address is

The case referenced:

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