Slave society in ancient greece
You Wouldnt Want to Be a Slave in Ancient Greece!: A Life Youd Rather Not Have by Fiona MacDonaldThink again! This delightful series brings something unusual to the study of history: humor. You Wouldnt Want to... revels in the darker side of life in ancient times. The reader is on center stage as he or she gets a tour through life as a slave, warrior, explorer -- even a mummy! Hilarious illustrations, captions, and sidebars leave no doubt that you simply wouldnt want to be there.
Alain Bresson, "Slavery in Ancient Greece: Path Dependence, Profit and Externalities"
Slavery in ancient Greece
Actor playing a slave While the practice of slavery is looked upon with abomination in modern society. This was not so in ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks did not share are beliefs in universal human rights. Slavery was accepted as a normal part of society and was justified on a number of levels. Even Aristotle, the great defender of democracy and political freedom, believed that the goal of a civilized man was to attain a life of leisure so that he was free to pursue the higher things in life. How was this life of leisure attained?
Slavery was a common practice in ancient Greece , as in other societies of the time. Some Ancient Greek writers including, most notably, Aristotle considered slavery natural and even necessary. This paradigm was notably questioned in Socratic dialogues ; the Stoics produced the first recorded condemnation of slavery. Most activities were open to slaves except politics, which was reserved for citizens. The principal use of slaves was in agriculture, but hundreds of slaves were also used in stone quarries or mines, and perhaps two per household were domestic servants. It is certain that Athens had the largest slave population, with as many as 80, in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, with average of three or four slaves per household, except in poor families.
There were different kinds of slavery in ancient Greece. Not all slaves were treated alike. In Sparta, there were state-owned slaves called helots. Helots were assigned to work a certain piece of land. They were also forced to give part of what they grew to the state.
Although ancient Greek Society was dominated by the male citizen, with his full legal status, right to vote, hold public office, and own property, the social groups which made up the population of a typical Greek city-state or polis were remarkably diverse. Women , children, immigrants both Greek and foreign , labourers, and slaves all had defined roles, but there was interaction often illicit between the classes and there was also some movement between social groups, particularly for second-generation offspring and during times of stress such as wars. The society of ancient Greece was largely composed of the following groups:. Although the male citizen had by far the best position in Greek society, there were different classes within this group. Possessing more money than everyone else, this class could provide themselves with armour, weapons, and a horse when on military campaign.
During the last years of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides 7. Estimates vary for the fourth century, but most scholars would agree that slaves were one fifth to one third of the population. Several passages in the Attic orators and other sources indicate that a wealthy Athenian might own anywhere from a dozen to over fifty slaves. Athens was not unusual: Thucydides 8. When did Athens and other Greek communities become slave societies?