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Orlando Patterson on Western Freedom. An Insidious “Chordal Triad” (Quotations from Freedom in the Making of Western Culture , vol. 1). Sovereignal Personal Civic. Thucydides 5.89 (Athenians in Melian Dialogue) Cf . Homer, Odyssey 17.323-4; Aristotle, Rhetoric 1367a32-33

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Orlando Patterson on Western Freedom

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Orlando patterson on western freedom

Orlando Patterson on Western Freedom

An Insidious “Chordal Triad”

(Quotations from Freedom in the Making of Western Culture, vol. 1)

Chordal triad of western freedom




Thucydides 5.89 (Athenians in Melian Dialogue)

Cf. Homer, Odyssey 17.323-4; Aristotle, Rhetoric 1367a32-33

Thucydides 2.34-46 (Pericles’ Funeral Oration)

“Chordal Triad” of Western Freedom



Natally-Alienated, Non-Persons

Orlando patterson on western freedom

“Slavery is the permanent, violent, and personal domination of natally-alienated and generally dishonored persons. It is, first, a form of personal domination. One individual is under the direct power of another or his agent. In practice, this usually entails the power of life and death over the slave. Second, the slave is always an excommunicated person. He, more often she, does not belong to the legitimate social or moral community; he has no independent social existence; he exists only through, and for, the master; he is, in other words, natally alienated.” (9-10)

Comparative anthropological material

Comparative Anthropological Material

Socially dead and group solidarity among the cherokee

Socially Dead and Group Solidarity Among the Cherokee

“The Cherokee used the abnormal status of the slave as a way of strengthening their system of classification….the deviant and outsider condition of the slave helped to establish Cherokee identity…The kinless, clanless, socially-dead slave negatively defined all that it meant to be socially alive and an active member of one’s clan. It is most significant that this earliest role of the slave, and of slavery, was a communal and social one. There is, as yet, no hint of individual freedom.” (12)

Enemies within and without among the brazilian tupinamba

Enemies Within and Without Among the Brazilian Tupinamba

“The notion of vengeance also became a means of appeasement of, and solidarity with, the ancestors, especially those who had been killed in warfare, and the mythical founders of the community. Warfare—both external, in clashes with the enemy, and internal, in the sacrifice of the slave—established solidarity with the ancestors and the gods and reinforced communal solidarity and strength.” (15)

Failure of freedom in the non western world

Failure of Freedom in the Non-Western World

“No one in his or her right mind In Imbangala society desired personal liberty, least of all the mavala. What the freedman sought, instead, were the prescriptive liberties of sovereignal freedom and the enhancement of the patron’s, and protector’s, sovereignal power or freedom over his remaining slaves.” (28)

Unimportance of freedom as a concept among near eastern powers

Unimportance of Freedom as a Concept among Near Eastern Powers

“They did not want freedom, because there was no special social space for the ambitious freedman, and it was not a valued state; indeed, being free involved a loss of status and power….to belong, to be bonded, was to be protected, by one’s patrons and one’s gods. To be personally free was to be deprived of this vital support.” (35-36)

Freedom s rise among the non slave

Freedom’s Rise among the Non-Slave

“To contemplate the social death of the slave was to conceive of one’s existence in a wholly new light, as the cherished condition of not being socially dead, not being kinless, not being bereft of one’s household and tribal gods. Who in his, or her, right mind would ever have thought of anything so crazy until the perverse reality of slavery came into the world?” (42)

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