Marcel Mauss's primary focus in Essai sur le don was on gifts, but his primary interest was in the close relationships that derive from gifting. His depiction of gifting as overwhelmingly positive, socially constructive, and egalitarian becomes problematic in a Greco-Roman context, where society is profoundly socially stratified, agonistic, and shot through with the importance of gaining honor. For the Greco-Roman world, a model of exchange based on status distance (Greco-Roman Model of Exchange) works better than one based on social distance. In a Greco-Roman context, the exchange of gifts and exchange of benefits (including acts of patronage and benefaction) fall into two different types of exchange: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Asymmetrical exchanges, like symmetrical exchanges, can result in a powerful social dynamic, often resembling friendship, and equally often cast in the language of friendship. The chapter also explores the difference between fictive friendship and real friendship.

Additional Metadata
Keywords fictive friendship, fictive giftship, Greco-Roman societies, Marcel Mauss, patronage
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781118517895.ch5
Citation
Crook, Z. (2013). Fictive giftship and fictive friendship in greco-roman society. In The Gift in Antiquity (pp. 61–76). doi:10.1002/9781118517895.ch5


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