Slavery

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Aspects of slavery from c. 500 BCE until c. 1650 CD
Slavery or servitude could be described as one of the most important factors that shaped the culture and lifestyles of the world. Slavery is an essential characteristic to mention when describing all parts of history, including ancient, medieval and New World societies. These societies viewed class status as a major structural part of their everyday life and social makeup. Class status helped to organize the hierarchy of the nation and produce a working environment that caused each to be successful. Each nation formed a means of servitude or slavery that provided for the base of their economy, hierarchal structure and culture. While historians and peoples of the time period viewed slavery as a part of their society, nations such as ancient Greece and Rome, the medieval Europe, and the New World Colonies, held different attitudes towards the importance of slavery, which can be revealed through how these attitudes have evolved through time. Ancient slaves of Rome and Greece were mainly different in only one way. When a slave was permitted to be free in Greece, the slave only received the status of a foreigner or a resident that was non-Greek. This contrasted Roman slaves because freed Roman slaves were allowed full citizenship if they applied for such. Fully Greek citizens were not permitted to be slaves; therefore, slaves were mainly acquired through warfare, birth or purchase. War captives became part of the slave life if they proved to be fit, agile and young enough to reproduce sometime in the future. Once in slavery, children to be born to slave parents were not considered free peoples. The children were also considered part of the master’s property just as the child’s parents. Slave trade was also a common way for an individual to become enslaved. Poor families would often sell one of their children, most often females, in order to receive payment in return. Males were mostly kept within the poor families for support when the parents reached an old age. If males were sold, they fetched a far higher price than any female would.

Enslaved life was not only restricted to those serving in the agricultural economy. Slaves were assigned jobs such as working as a maid, chef or nanny in the master’s house, a rower for a nearby shipyard, or even as the neighboring police force. Women were mostly given jobs inside the house or in the fields while men were used to police work or jobs that required more physical strength. Slavery was a hard life if you did not meet the criteria for a healthy and functional slave. Because slaves were considered to be property, they were expected to have a young age, ample strength, supple health and a good attitude toward their master and the life that they lived. Not reaching any of these goals or misbehaving would cause the master to whip the individual slave or even allow the slave to be arrested. Slaves were not allowed to switch masters or choose who they were the property of.

Freedom from slavery was limited to few in the ancient Greek society. The Greek government was able to allow an enslaved person freedom if they held legitimate reasoning. If this occurred, the master was informed of the slaves release and must comply with the request. If the master refused, then the military would become involved and the slave would be set free. The master of the slave was also permitted to set the slave free on his own accord, even if the government was not involved. If neither the government nor the master wished to set the enslaved individual free, the slave was allowed to purchase their freedom. This did not often occur because money was hard to come by if you were enslaved. Children born to the newly freed individuals were also considered to have a restricted lifestyle such as that of a foreigner or non-Greek citizen. They were not able to achieve full citizenship status. Slave duties were assigned according to gender and ability to...
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