Slavery in Ancient Greece

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  • Topic: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Roman Empire
  • Pages : 4 (1517 words )
  • Download(s) : 191
  • Published : January 2, 2013
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Work, discipline and feeding are three words that would perfectly sum up the daily routine of slaves in ancient Greece. Slaves were the backbone to the greatness, strength and stability to the ancient Greeks, according to Aristotle. Being divided into many different city-states, Greece as a whole contained a variety of social structures, and therefore, a range of positions occupied by slaves. Slavery allowed the citizens of Athens and also Sparta to focus on the aspects of life they thought were important. Most slaves did not appear any different from the poorer Greek citizens, therefore making it much more difficult for historians to determine exactly how many slaves there were during these times. Ascertaining a true understanding of slaves' relative standards of living in Athens is difficult because the imbalance of information makes it much more unclear. The majority of slaves were uneducated, and thus could not leave records of their own conditions. Also, the ancient Athenians believed that there was an inborn trait in humans that either defined them to be a master or a slave. The people felt that those who are meant to be masters have a much stronger, willful soul, than those who are meant to serve. Aristotle claims that, "the soul rules the body with the authority of a master" and that "the rule of the body by the soul, and the rule of the passionate part by the rational, is in accordance with nature and beneficial". To get a full, comprehensive understanding of slaves in ancient Greece, knowing how they become slaves, the struggles and obstacles they faced, and the principal use of slaves, is crucial.

First, slaves did not just become slaves randomly; there was a reason for this way of life. The primary source of a slave was prisoners of war. The prisoners of war that became slaves were sometimes other Greeks, but many of them were what the Greeks called "barbarians" or non-Greeks, such as the people of the Persian Empire. Another source of...
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