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A slave could have a spouse and child, but the slave family was not recognized by the state, and the master could scatter the family members at any time. A famous example of a trusty slave was Themistocles 's Persian slave Sicinnus the counterpart of Ephialtes of Trachis , who, despite his Persian origin, betrayed Xerxes and helped Athenians in the Battle of Salamis.

Isocrates claimed that "not even the most worthless slave can be put to death without trial"; [91] the master's power over his slave was not absolute. However, slaves did belong to their master's household. A newly-bought slave was welcomed with nuts and fruits, just like a newly-wed wife. The slaves shared the gods of their masters and could keep their own religious customs if any.

Slaves could not own property, but their masters often let them save up to purchase their freedom, [97] and records survive of slaves operating businesses by themselves, making only a fixed tax-payment to their masters.

The Atlantic Crossword

Athens also had a law forbidding the striking of slaves: if a person struck what appeared to be a slave in Athens, that person might find himself hitting a fellow-citizen, because many citizens dressed no better. It astonished other Greeks that Athenians tolerated back-chat from slaves. Slaves had special sexual restrictions and obligations. For example, a slave could not engage free boys in pederastic relationships " A slave shall not be the lover of a free boy nor follow after him, or else he shall receive fifty blows of the public lash.

Both laws are attributed to Solon. The sons of vanquished foes would be enslaved and often forced to work in male brothels, as in the case of Phaedo of Elis , who at the request of Socrates was bought and freed from such an enterprise by the philosopher's rich friends. In Gortyn , in Crete, according to a code engraved in stone dating to the 6th century BC, slaves doulos or oikeus found themselves in a state of great dependence. Their children belonged to the master. Conversely, an offence committed against a slave was much less expensive than an offence committed against a free person. As an example, the rape of a free woman by a slave was punishable by a fine of staters drachms , while the rape of a non-virgin slave by another slave brought a fine of only one obolus a sixth of a drachm.

Aristotle: Politics

Slaves did have the right to possess a house and livestock, which could be transmitted to descendants, as could clothing and household furnishings. Prior to its interdiction by Solon , Athenians practiced debt enslavement: a citizen incapable of paying his debts became "enslaved" to the creditor. In theory, those so enslaved would be liberated when their original debts were repaid.

The system was developed with variants throughout the Near East and is cited in the Bible. Aristotle in his Constitution of the Athenians quotes one of Solon's poems:. Though much of Solon's vocabulary is that of "traditional" slavery, servitude for debt was at least different in that the enslaved Athenian remained an Athenian, dependent on another Athenian, in his place of birth.

The practice of manumission is confirmed to have existed in Chios from the 6th century BC. Informal emancipations are also confirmed in the classical period. It was sufficient to have witnesses, who would escort the citizen to a public emancipation of his slave, either at the theatre or before a public tribunal. The practice became more common in the 4th century BC and gave rise to inscriptions in stone which have been recovered from shrines such as Delphi and Dodona.


Ancient Political Philosophy

They primarily date to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and the 1st century AD. Collective manumission was possible; an example is known from the 2nd century BC in the island of Thasos. It probably took place during a period of war as a reward for the slaves' loyalty, [] but in most cases the documentation deals with a voluntary act on the part of the master predominantly male, but in the Hellenistic period also female. The slave was often required to pay for himself an amount at least equivalent to his street value. Emancipation was often of a religious nature, where the slave was considered to be "sold" to a deity, often Delphian Apollo , [] or was consecrated after his emancipation.

The temple would receive a portion of the monetary transaction and would guarantee the contract. The manumission could also be entirely civil, in which case the magistrate played the role of the deity. The slave's freedom could be either total or partial, at the master's whim. In the former, the emancipated slave was legally protected against all attempts at re-enslavement—for instance, on the part of the former master's inheritors.

The most restrictive contract was the paramone , a type of enslavement of limited duration during which time the master retained practically absolute rights. In regard to the city, the emancipated slave was far from equal to a citizen by birth.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

He was liable to all types of obligations, as one can see from the proposals of Plato in The Laws : [] presentation three times monthly at the home of the former master, forbidden to become richer than him, etc. In fact, the status of emancipated slaves was similar to that of metics , the residing foreigners, who were free but did not enjoy a citizen's rights. Spartan citizens used helots , a dependent group collectively owned by the state. It is uncertain whether they had chattel slaves as well. There are mentions of people manumitted by Spartans, which was supposedly forbidden for helots, or sold outside of Lakonia : the poet Alcman ; [] a Philoxenos from Cytherea, reputedly enslaved with all his fellow citizens when his city was conquered, later sold to an Athenian; [] a Spartan cook bought by Dionysius the Elder or by a king of Pontus , both versions being mentioned by Plutarch; [] and the famous Spartan nurses, much appreciated by Athenian parents.

Some texts mention both slaves and helots, which seems to indicate that they were not the same thing. Plato in Alcibiades I cites "the ownership of slaves, and notably helots" among the Spartan riches, [] and Plutarch writes about "slaves and helots". Most historians thus concur that chattel slaves were indeed used in the Greek city-state of Sparta, at least after the Lacedemonian victory of BC against Athens, but not in great numbers and only among the upper classes.

It is difficult to appreciate the condition of Greek slaves. According to Aristotle , the daily routine of slaves could be summed up in three words: "work, discipline, and feeding". Greek literature abounds with scenes of slaves being flogged; it was a means of forcing them to work, as were control of rations, clothing, and rest. This violence could be meted out by the master or the supervisor, who was possibly also a slave. Thus, at the beginning of Aristophanes ' The Knights 4—5 , two slaves complain of being "bruised and thrashed without respite" by their new supervisor.

However, Aristophanes himself cites what is a typical old saw in ancient Greek comedy :. They were always led out crying, so one of their fellow slaves could mock the bruises and ask then: 'Oh you poor miserable fellow, what's happened to your skin? Surely a huge army of lashes from a whip has fallen down on you and laid waste your back? The condition of slaves varied very much according to their status; the mine slaves of Laureion and the pornai brothel prostitutes lived a particularly brutal existence, while public slaves, craftsmen, tradesmen and bankers enjoyed relative independence.

Potential emancipation was indeed a powerful motivator, though the real scale of this is difficult to estimate. Ancient writers considered that Attic slaves enjoyed a "peculiarly happy lot": [] Pseudo-Xenophon deplores the liberties taken by Athenian slaves: "as for the slaves and Metics of Athens, they take the greatest licence; you cannot just strike them, and they do not step aside to give you free passage".

Conversely, there are no records of a large-scale Greek slave revolt comparable to that of Spartacus in Rome. Individual acts of rebellion of slaves against their master, though scarce, are not unheard of; a judicial speech mentions the attempted murder of his master by a boy slave, not 12 years old.

Slavery - Wikipedia

Very few authors of antiquity call slavery into question. To Homer and the pre-classical authors, slavery was an inevitable consequence of war. Heraclitus states that "War is the father of all, the king of all During the classical period the main justification for slavery was economic. According to him, the temperate climate of Anatolia produced a placid and submissive people.

Alcidamas , at the same time as Aristotle, took the opposite view, saying: " nature has made nobody a slave". In parallel, the concept that all men, whether Greek or barbarian, belonged to the same race was being developed by the Sophists [] and thus that certain men were slaves although they had the soul of a freeman and vice versa. The Greeks could not comprehend an absence of slaves.

The only societies without slaves were those of the Golden Age , where all needs were met without anyone having to work. In this type of society, as explained by Plato, [] one reaped generously without sowing. In Telekleides' Amphictyons [] barley loaves fight with wheat loaves for the honor of being eaten by men. Moreover, objects move themselves—dough kneads itself, and the jug pours itself.

Similarly, Aristotle said that slaves would not be necessary "if every instrument could accomplish its own work In a "normal" society, one needs slaves. Aristotle argues that slaves are a necessity though, saying "Property is part of the household, For no man can live well or indeed live at all, unless he be provided with necessaries. By viewing slaves as tools of a household, it creates another reason for acceptance of slavery.

Aristotle says "indeed the use of slaves and of tame animals is not very different," showing as well that at least in part, some slaves were thought of no higher than the common tamed animals in use at the time. Antiphon viewed slaves as a bit more than common animals or tools. On the topic of a man killing his own slave, he says that the man should "purify himself and withhold himself from those places prescribed by law, in the hope that by doing so he will best avoid disaster.

Punishment of slaves would have been swift and harsh. Demosthenes viewed punishment for slaves as acceptable in the form of physical harm or injuries for all that they may have done wrong, stating "the body of a slave is made responsible for all his misdeeds, whereas corporal punishment is the last penalty to inflict on a free man. Slavery in Greek antiquity has long been an object of apologetic discourse among Christians, who are typically awarded the merit of its collapse.

From the 16th century the discourse became moralizing in nature. The existence of colonial slavery had significant impact on the debate, with some authors lending it civilizing merits and others denouncing its misdeeds. In the 19th century, a politico-economic discourse emerged. It concerned itself with distinguishing the phases in the organisation of human societies and correctly identifying the place of Greek slavery. The influence of Marx is decisive; for him the ancient society was characterized by development of private ownership and the dominant and not secondary as in other pre-capitalist societies character of slavery as a mode of production.

According to him slavery was the foundation of Greek democracy. It was thus a legal and social phenomenon, and not economic. Current historiography developed in the 20th century; led by authors such as Joseph Vogt, it saw in slavery the conditions for the development of elites. Conversely, the theory also demonstrates an opportunity for slaves to join the elite. Finally, Vogt estimates that modern society, founded on humanist values, has surpassed this level of development.