Slaves played an important role in Athenian society during the 5th Century BC. They performed tasks which allowed male Athenian citizens to have time to themselves and so they were able to participate actively in the Democracy aspect of society, they helped out the wife with domestic chores. Without slaves Athenian males struggled to keep up with the daily duties they were required to participate in during the day which caused them stress and put them under huge amounts of pressure. The institution of slavery in Athens ran well, with enormous numbers of slaves moving to the city from other areas of the globe to find work. Generally slaves were treated well in Athens but this depended on their employment and owner.
Slaves came from other countries from around the globe and were obtained by Athenians through markets. Many slaves came from the Balkans, from Thrace and Illyria and around the Black Sea area, although some slaves came from Turkey or the Middle East. Sometimes slaves were born into slavery but generally slaves were captured at war. When a town was defeated, those who survived were taken to one of the main slave markets in the Island of Delos in the Aegean Sea where they were sold into Slavery. A few of the slaves sold at these markets had been kidnapped, and several of them were even sold into slavery if their parents were poor. Some slaves originated from other Greek states, Thucydides writes that when the Athenians captured the Greek island of Melos, they enslaved all the women and children on the island. Athenians obtained their slaves by buying them from slave markets and they were chosen based on their strength, skill and looks.
Slaves were classed as ‘living tools’ and were on the margin of human society. Even though a slave had no basic rights, they regarded as a full member of a household by Athenian citizens; they were introduced to the worship of family gods and took part in religious festivals. A wife also had to care for sick slaves. A...
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