9thdegreeburn replied to your post: blue-popsicle asked:Hi, i don’t k…
Didn’t the Romans prize Germanic people and Slavs more anyway? And not in terms of skin color. They were just more valued as slaves
What you’re talking about is an idea derived from how the Greeks basically believed that the further away your country (and climate) of origin was from Greece, the more barbaric you were. Then, there were some Greek writers, philosophers, whatever, who adhered to the whole “climate=personality type” school of determinism.
That’s an interpretation of evidence.
You can go back to the sources in the OP and see what they’re talking about, basically. It’s just ethnocentrism, but like, cultural, not racial.
The problem comes in with the Renaissance, and even further into the European Enlightenment, when the train wreck of “revival of Classical” and “a desperate need to justify chattel slavery and colonialism” got warped into the re-interpetation of geographical origin+climate=biological determinism/personality . They were literally mistranslating and extrapolating on documents that were like thousands of years old to try and justify race-based chattel slavery, and putting forth their own “climate” based theories (by Montesquieu and G.W.F. Hegel, notably).
So, that idea comes more from the 1700s-1800s in Europe than Ancient Greece or Rome. I recommend some of Frank M. Snowden’s scholarship, not on history, but historiography, and his documentation of the translations of documents from the ancient world:
Modern scholars have at times suggested that the Greeks regarded the Negro’s physical appearance as ugly and that the Greeks saw something comic in many artistic representations of the Negro type. Nothing in Greek literature, however, warrants such an assumption.
Not only did many racist historians use biased language in their work, but even used racial slurs in place of terms like “Aethiops”, which was a neutral term (meaning “Ethiopian”) used as a synonym for “Black person”. In his conclusion, he places the blame for this projection of modern racist attitudes squarely where they belong: the shoulders of his “fellow” academics:
Unless other evidence is brought to light, we cannot place the onus of “color-prejudice” on the ancient Greeks, as some scholars have done. The attitude of the ancient Greeks toward the Negro is epitomized, as this paper has shown, by Menander, who insists that it makes no difference whether one is an Ethiopian or a Scythian; natural bent, not race, determines nobility. The evidence of both art and literature seems to indicate that Menander was representing not merely the philosophic hope of an idealist, but that he was reflecting rather an attitude which had its roots deeply imbedded in the social subsoil of contemporary society.
The idea that “whiter” slaves were “more highly prized” is a kind of last gasp of the dominating racist narratives that continue to be perpetuated in academia. It’s a further bowdlerization of Ancient Greek texts that mention everything on race from aesthetics, to politics, to early forms of sciences or biology.