University of Notre Dame

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Motherhood in the Delphic Manumission Inscriptions

posted on 2024-03-25, 01:57 authored by Madison Hoaglund

This paper focuses on a set of twenty-seven manumission inscriptions from the Delphic corpus. My analysis denotes that the mother-child relationship contained in these manumissions serves as a legitimizing definition of both the mother and the child’s place within society. I rely heavily on the two primary collections of Delphic manumission records for the project: Die Delphischen Inschriften, in Hermann Collitz’s Sammlung der griechischen Dialekt-Inschriften Volume II, and Daux’s Fouilles de Delphes, Volume III: Épigraphe. Although the manumission inscriptions at Delphi have enjoyed a rich history, only a few scholars such as Hopkins and Zelnick-Abramotitz have turned their attention to the presence of women. My work expands upon these existing contributions in various ways.

The first chapter evaluates the group of twenty-seven inscriptions which include the mother-child clause by running statistical analysis to determine patterns or deviations in chronology, price, gender, syntax, and place of origin. After a detailed investigation, the second chapter turns to the wider manumission corpus at Delphi and investigates instances of motherhood within the paramone clauses of enslaved women. The final chapter situates the mother-child clauses within their greater context and concludes that the paramone clauses include motherhood because the slave’s status during paramone was inconsistent. Thus, the status of any child born during this time of deferred manumission was variable. Since motherhood in the paramone clauses serves as a necessary clarification of either slavery or freedom, the same can be said of the mother-child corpus. The mother-child clauses, which appeared decades before paramone clauses concerning motherhood, delineated the statuses of slave children and added legitimacy to the mother’s and children’s emancipation. In this way, the mother-child clauses represent a tangible example of both the societal concern surrounding the roles of these women and children as well as their attempt to address these concerns through the manumission inscriptions.


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CIP Code

  • 16.1200

Research Director(s)

David R. Hernandez


  • Master of Arts

Degree Level

  • Master's Thesis

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  • Classics

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