Chapter

Manly Shame

Joseph Roisman

in The Rhetoric of Manhood

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780520241923
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931138 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520241923.003.0004
Manly Shame

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This chapter concentrates on the expectation, revealed and manipulated in the orations, that men are guardians against shame in both the public and private realms, and the dilemmas attendant on that expectation. With some reservations, ancient Athens can be viewed as a shame culture, that is, a culture that emphasized the power of shame in guiding moral behavior. The rhetoric of military defeat is discussed. Athenian men were particularly vulnerable to deliberate attempts on the part of other men to shame them. Physical violence unconnected to war and sport could also tarnish manliness in ancient Athens. The use of shame to promote conformity and moral conduct was supposed to complement the wish of Athenian men to protect their honor. The speeches indicate that the injunction that Athenian men guard against shame was an unattainable ideal subject to manipulation.

Keywords: shame; ancient Athens; physical violence; Athenian men; military defeat

Chapter.  8530 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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