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Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science$
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Mirko Canevaro, Andrew Erskine, Benjamin Gray, and Josiah Ober

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474421775

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421775.001.0001

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Patronage in Ancient Sparta

Patronage in Ancient Sparta

Chapter:
(p.241) 8 Patronage in Ancient Sparta
Source:
Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science
Author(s):

Ingvar B. Mæhle

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421775.003.0009

The ideology of the Spartan homoioi, the “equals”, or rather the “similars” masked vast differences in wealth, prestige and power. In such circumstances, personal patronage thrive, decades of anthropological investigations has shown us. Yet patronage is most commonly associated with Rome, despite the demonstration by several scholars that patron‐client relationships did indeed play a role even in democratic Athens, a society before thought exempt from the universal laws of reciprocity. This chapter discusses the role of personal patronage in classical Sparta, and the differences between unequal reciprocity in the society of the “similars” compared to democratic Athens and Republican Rome. It demonstrates how patronage is a natural part of all ancient societies. Different systems allow patronage different scope and venues, forcing the phenomenon to adapt to various circumstances. This changes the rates of exchange between patron and client, but does not abolish the institution. The aim is to construct a general theory of patronage in the ancient city-states of Greece and Rome.

Keywords:   Sparta, Patronage, social control, reciprocity

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