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Synopsis

From the sixth century onward, legislation was introduced in Athens and a number of the advanced city states which restricted mourning the dead, particularly women's laments. "Dangerous Voices" investigates the threat which mourning posed to the society and the way in which the state attempted to subdue and subvert laments.
"Dangerous Voices" suggests that the loss of the traditional lament in Greece and other countries deprived women of their traditional control over the rituals of death and left them without a language to address the dead.
An investigation of laments from New Guinea to Greece suggests that they are essentially a female art form, one that gives women considerable power over the rituals of death. Women's prominence in the death rituals and their use of the public forum of the funeral to express grief and anger presented a powerful challenge to established social order. The state's need to raise a standing army meant that death in war hadto be glorified, not lamented. At the same time, the existence of official law courts discouraged the cycle of private retribution which was inflamed by laments.

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