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IAS Fellows’ Seminar – “Do not offend any of the persons at home”: Forms of Domestic Violence in Greco-Roman Egypt, by Dr Youssri Abdelwahed (Minia University)

October 30, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Image courtesy of K et Laurianne Langlais (Unsplash)

IAS Fellows’ Seminar by Dr Youssri Abdelwahed (Minia University)


This paper aims to explore the various forms of domestic violence that were prevalent in Greco-Roman Egypt, based on the Greek papyrological evidence from the fourth century BC to the fourth century AD. The main question addressed is: What were the types of domestic violence inflicted upon or experienced by the residents of households during this period?  The study reveals that during the Greco-Roman period, a range of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse was observed within and around households. These forms of abuse often occurred simultaneously, highlighting the complex nature of domestic violence in this time period. Physical abuse, referred to as “bia,” was a common form of violence. It involved acts of physical harm, such as hitting, beating, or any other form of bodily assault. The evidence suggests that this type of abuse was the most prevalent within the household setting. Verbal abuse, known as “loidoria,” was another form of violence practiced during this time. It encompassed the use of offensive language and derogatory remarks towards household members. Verbal abuse was often employed as a means of exerting power and control over others. Emotional abuse, termed “hybris,” was also prevalent in Greco-Roman Egypt. This form of violence involved the infliction of emotional distress and insolence on household occupants. It included acts such as pouring urine, stripping off clothing, and bullying. Emotional abuse aimed to undermine the victim’s self-esteem and manipulate their emotions. These different forms of domestic violence were not mutually exclusive. In many cases, they occurred concurrently, exacerbating the overall impact on the victims. The papyrological evidence sheds light on the prevalence of domestic violence during the Greco-Roman period, providing valuable insights into the lived experiences of individuals within households. The evidence reveals the existence of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse within households. By acknowledging and studying these historical instances of domestic violence, we can gain a better understanding of domestic life in Greco-Roman Egypt. 

 Places are limited and so any academic colleagues or students interested in attending in person should register HERE.


October 30, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Cosin’s Hall, Palace Green Durham
Cosin's Hall, Palace Green
Durham, DH1 3RL United Kingdom
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