Sparta’s Kosmos of Silence

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A special interest in the anthropology of classical Sparta has led me to study various aspects of social life there, including the semiotics of communication, in particular non-verbal channels, such as dress, nudity, ‘hair-behaviour’ and laughter. This paper concentrates on another such channel, perhaps the most complex of them all, silence, in an attempt to decode its significance and assess its social and political functions. The complex nature of silence is revealedinter aliaby its power to convey an impressive range of diametrically opposed messages: e.g., consent/disapproval; respect/contempt; sympathy/antipathy; intimacy/alienation; politeness/rudeness.¹ Its ambiguity, opacity, subtlety and semiotic opulence have
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSparta
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives
EditorsAnton Powell, Stephen Hodkinson
Place of PublicationLondon and Cardiff
PublisherUniversity of Wales Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781910589328
ISBN (Print)9781905125319
StatePublished - 1999


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