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From Donna Zuckerberg’s (Mark’s sister) extremely woke Classics magazine Eidolon, a condemnation of the celebrated Athenian statesman Pericles’ Citizenship Law (which frankly I’d never heard of, but, now that you mention it, sounds like a big improvement over our Anchor Baby Citizenship fiasco):
We Condone It by Our Silence
Confronting Classics’ Complicity in White Supremacy
Rebecca Futo Kennedy
Classicist, Ancient Historian, Museum Director
… Silence encourages acceptance and even approval of antiquities’ worst tendencies in the contemporary world. Ancient Athens, though a democracy, does not fit a narrative of openness to immigrants and refugees no matter how we try to dress it up.
What, then, is a woke classicist to do? …
Tell me about it.
If we want to reduce the numbers of casual racists and white supremacists who use classics to justify their racist views, we need to stop providing them with “facile narratives of static timeless white purity.” Before we can engage in critical reception, the first step is a critical engagement with the classical past. We must not only engage issues of race/ethnicity, class, and gender in antiquity in our teaching and scholarship, but also we need to stop pretending that the worst thing the Athenians ever did was to execute Socrates and openly engage the true dark side of Classical Athens’ anti-immigration policies and the obsession with ethnic purity that lies at the heart of its literature, history, and philosophy….
Known as the Periclean Citizenship Law, the law passed around 451 BCE restricted access to political power and other legal rights to only those born of both a citizen mother and father. Prior to this law, one needed only a citizen father. We don’t know for certain why the law was passed, but part of the reason may very well have been a desire to restrict the large number of immigrant craftsmen and merchants whom Athenian citizens felt might compete with them for certain work — contrary to what Laurialan Reitzammer suggests, male citizens did many of the same jobs as male immigrants (and slaves), often working side by side (we even have payment lists showing that they got the same pay!).
Commenter Chrisnonymous says:
The exclamation mark indicates “the Athenians, those chumps!”. If only Pericles had had a billionaire brother employing lower-paid immigrants, he would have understood the value of immigration.
Commenter Achilles replies:
Certainly, then, the Athenian elites would have been more than justified in combatting this vile xenophobia among native workers by making extensive use of Eta-1-Beta visas to bring in cheaper and more easily controlled foreign workers to write code for Facebook, er, I mean, uh, to construct the columns and carve the sculptures of the Parthenon.
Chrisnonymous piles on:
In other Classics news:
Unearthing Prejudice: Results of Recent Excavations of Athenian Agricultural Sites
“…were found in soil layers corresponding to the years immediately after the Periclean Citizenship Law was passed. ‘Results are difficult to interpret,’ said Professor Jones, ‘but are generally accepted to mean many crops were left rotting in the fields…’”