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Trying Neaira

Neaira grew up in a Corinthian brothel in the fourth century B.C., became a high-priced courtesan and a sex slave, then settled into a thirty-year relationship with Stephanos of Athens. But next she found herself in court, charged with transgressing Athens’ s marriage laws. This book reconstructs the amazing facts of Neaira’ s life and trial, illuminating the social, legal, and cultural worlds of ancient Greece.
“ Hamel’ s treatment of this complicated story is outstanding . . . for its comprehensive [yet remarkably concise] presentation of the social and historical context of fourth-century Athens.” — Ingrid D. Rowland, "New Republic"
“ ["Trying Neaira"]" "is an extraordinary tale, with more than an echo of Arthur Golden’ s "Memoirs of a Geisha."” — Tom Holland, "Daily Telegraph"00
“ A marvelous account of a fascinating series of events in the life of a Greek woman of the fourth century B.C. Hamel tells the tale with clarity and verve and, along the way, she teaches the reader a vast amount about Athenian society in the most interesting and entertaining way.” — Donald Kagan, Yale University
“ Charmingly written (and) nicely illustrated. . . . Hamel’ s account is engaging, accessible to nonexperts, and useful for courses on Athenian society.” — "Choice"
“ As told by Debra Hamel, this true-life story offers an extraordinary window on a civilization that wasn’ t half so rarefied in its interests or affections as we tend to assume.” — "The Scotsman"
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About the Author

Debra Hamel is the author of Athenian Generals: Military Authority in the Classical Period.


"vivid and entertaining... the scholarship is first-class" Tom Holland, The Daily Telegraph; "gripping... a lively and exciting narrative." Peter Jones, The Sunday Telegraph; "scholarly and highly entertaining" John Taylor, JACT Review; "Hamel's treatment of this complicated story is outstanding for its comprehensive (yet remarkably concise) presentation of the social and historical context of fourth-century Athens." Ingrid D. Rowland, New Republic"

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