Race-relations in ancient times are vastly better than in modern times?

Aug 2017
45
New Jersey
I’ve been reading up on ancient race-relations and found that black people despite looking different were regarded as human. At least to the ancient Greeks who had this belief that they were just white people with permanently burnt skin accidentally caused by Helios’ son Phaethon. Referring to them as Aethiopes which means “burnt-face”.

Even the wife of the Greek hero Perseus was an Aethiope and the couple were the great-grandparents of Hercules. So there was no stigma with interracial relationships or having a black ancestor in Ancient Greece. So I will not look at the Clash of Titans live-action films the same way again. The Russian animated film is the only one that got it right.

There is also the Ancient Greek romance novel Aethiopica that depicts a marriage between the main characters who are an Aethiope woman and a Thessalian man. Over in Jewish mythology Moses’s wife Zipporah was Kushite and the Prince of Egypt animated film got that right. So even Yahweh considers interracial relationships legitimate and not bestiality which is a sin.

Amazing how times can change for the worst.
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,806
Cornwall
I don't think you are right on a number of levels.

Firstly entities like the Romans and Greeks didn't like anyone who wasn't them, if you like, so they would either submit or be destroyed. Doesn't matter what colour you are that seems pretty discriminatory to me

Secondly you have to remember that many ancient and early medieval sources use the word 'black' when they are actually talking about people darker than them. North African berbers or even in some cases southern europeans. This can give a whole mis-tranlation and misunderstanding. Some years ago one now-banned poster (under several user names) made a whole career out of a total misunderstanding of the word in the european context, with a black-is-great agenda of course.

Thirdly this absolute obsession with skin colour in your land fascinates me. Everything is about black or white and what colour everybody is and what slavery was and who's discriminating against who. This constant obsession seems to fuel constant discrimination.

Me I just see people and the same can be said for everyone around me these days. What colour they are is of no relevance.
 
Mar 2018
867
UK
Race wasn't really a concept in the ancient world, not in the modern sense anyway. Similar to nationality, it became a defining feature of identity much later. Therefore it doesn't make much sense to ask how race relations where in the past.

On one level you could say the ancients were less racist, in the sense that they wouldn't hate you/treat you worse because of your skin colour.

But the more meaningful question is "Was the ancient world more discriminatory towards people of other cultures or of outsiders?"
And the answer is most definitely yes.

So the greeks wouldn't hate a Nubian for being black, they'd hate him for not being Greek. They'd also hate a more pale-skinned Persian for the same reason. I struggle to see how that's any better than more modern racism.
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,184
Lisbon, Portugal
I’ve been reading up on ancient race-relations and found that black people despite looking different were regarded as human. At least to the ancient Greeks who had this belief that they were just white people with permanently burnt skin accidentally caused by Helios’ son Phaethon. Referring to them as Aethiopes which means “burnt-face”.

Even the wife of the Greek hero Perseus was an Aethiope and the couple were the great-grandparents of Hercules. So there was no stigma with interracial relationships or having a black ancestor in Ancient Greece. So I will not look at the Clash of Titans live-action films the same way again. The Russian animated film is the only one that got it right.

There is also the Ancient Greek romance novel Aethiopica that depicts a marriage between the main characters who are an Aethiope woman and a Thessalian man. Over in Jewish mythology Moses’s wife Zipporah was Kushite and the Prince of Egypt animated film got that right. So even Yahweh considers interracial relationships legitimate and not bestiality which is a sin.

Amazing how times can change for the worst.
I assume that you are American. Actually only a few societies in the world created a sort of racial hierarchy based on colour, phenotype and descent, and built a strict caste system with it which even made it impossible for inter-marriages to occur. One of those few countries are the United States - with South Africa, Australia, Spanish and Portuguese America (although different) and to a certain extent, India. All other societies in the world didn’t built their societies on the basis of racial discrimination, but on other kinds of discrimination.
 
Aug 2017
45
New Jersey
Oh I know they were xenophobic. But it seems that they still consider outsiders humans.

Secondly you have to remember that many ancient and early medieval sources use the word 'black' when they are actually talking about people darker than them. North African berbers or even in some cases southern europeans. This can give a whole mis-tranlation and misunderstanding. Some years ago one now-banned poster (under several user names) made a whole career out of a total misunderstanding of the word in the european context, with a black-is-great agenda of course.
Yes. But writers like Homers said that Aethiopia was located where Sub-Saharan Africa would be. Herodotus describes Aethiopes as not only dark skinned but also woolly-haired and that their capital was Meroe. The female lead in Aethiopica is said to be from Meroe.
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,815
USA
I’ve been reading up on ancient race-relations and found that black people despite looking different were regarded as human. At least to the ancient Greeks who had this belief that they were just white people with permanently burnt skin accidentally caused by Helios’ son Phaethon. Referring to them as Aethiopes which means “burnt-face”.

Even the wife of the Greek hero Perseus was an Aethiope and the couple were the great-grandparents of Hercules. So there was no stigma with interracial relationships or having a black ancestor in Ancient Greece. So I will not look at the Clash of Titans live-action films the same way again. The Russian animated film is the only one that got it right.

There is also the Ancient Greek romance novel Aethiopica that depicts a marriage between the main characters who are an Aethiope woman and a Thessalian man. Over in Jewish mythology Moses’s wife Zipporah was Kushite and the Prince of Egypt animated film got that right. So even Yahweh considers interracial relationships legitimate and not bestiality which is a sin.

Amazing how times can change for the worst.
There weren't any mass movements of people across racial divides in the ancient world. It was mostly interactions at the edges, or individual migrations. There weren't any discriminations in such cases. Ancient Egyptians and Nubians got along pretty well with a few peaceful mixings.

But things were different when Aryans invaded India and encountered its dark skinned peoples. Aryans created an apartheid system (Hindu caste system) for the purpose of discriminating against the Indians, and keeping them apart.
 
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robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,184
Lisbon, Portugal
There weren't any mass movements of people across racial divides in the ancient world. It was mostly interactions at the edges, or individual migrations. There weren't any discriminations in such cases. Ancient Egyptians and Nubians got along pretty well with a few peaceful mixings.

But things were different when Aryans invaded India and encountered its dark skinned peoples. Aryans created an apartheid system (Hindu caste system) for the purpose of discriminating against the Indians, and keeping them apart.
What happened in India was a little more complex. Ancient India after Aryan migration is more comparable to Mexico after the Spanish invasion than to Apartheid's South Africa. There was widespread mixing between Aryans and the previous inhabitants of India.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
I assume that you are American. Actually only a few societies in the world created a sort of racial hierarchy based on colour, phenotype and descent, and built a strict caste system with it which even made it impossible for inter-marriages to occur. One of those few countries are the United States - with South Africa, Australia, Spanish and Portuguese America (although different) and to a certain extent, India. All other societies in the world didn’t built their societies on the basis of racial discrimination, but on other kinds of discrimination.
And to a certain extent India? You mean the country that actually has true castes based on color, phenotype, and strict descent is only a certain extent racist? :lol:

East Asians have their own views on color too, China, Korea, Japan all have a SERIOUS bias against darker shades of skin and have for quite some time, long before the 18th century.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
What happened in India was a little more complex.
Oh, it was complex. So I guess all the other places it was simple? If India gets absolved because of complexity, what else can be? Racism in the Americas was complex too.
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,815
USA
One can actually claim that racism was codified and institutionalized first in ancient India. Elaborate books were written on how to practice it. What's more, they even made it a core part of their religion, Hinduism. It has withstood the rigors of time, and continue to play an important role (negative nevertheless) in Indian society.