Relationship between slaves and masters in ancient greece

Slavery in ancient Greece - Wikipedia

relationship between slaves and masters in ancient greece

Not all forms of slavery in ancient Greece were as tolerable as that of the . their slaves there is a genial, friendly relation, and the master will put up with a good. between master and slave and allowed the slave to gain power and influence in society Economy and Society in Ancient Greece (New York: The Viking Press, ), pg This formal and legal relationship mandated the slave would have to. If your family was poor you could be sold into slavery to help pay off their debts. there is good cause for thankfulness in having masters of ancient wealth;.

They did the dangerous job of going into the earth to bring the ore to the surface. They also did the heavy work of removing the earth to expose the ore. They wielded the pick and the hammers to drive the drills. Very dry sticks were pounded into the holes so when water was applied they swelled and broke the rock. The large rocks were broken with picks and hammers and chisels.

The burden and ore was removed from the mines in sacks on the back of slaves. Slaves had to constantly sharpen the tools to work the rock. Men and women might be used in the mine. Women also may have served as prostitutes as well as cooking and serving food and water. A god from afar looks graciously upon a gentle master; for no one freely takes the yoke of slavery. In Agamemnon line Clytaemestra speaks to Cassandra: But if such fortune should of necessity fall to the lot of any, there is good cause for thankfulness in having masters of ancient wealth; for they who, beyond their hope, have reaped a rich harvest of possessions, [] are cruel to their slaves in every way, even exceeding due measure.

A slave could occupy the same public spaces as freemen, such as the agora and places of worship. In his criticism, Aristotle again speaks to the limited physical difference between a freeman and slave, telling in the city of Athens it was almost impossible to tell the difference in a public area.

relationship between slaves and masters in ancient greece

As evidenced in a speech by Lysias of Athens, confusion between slaves and citizens was not at all uncommon in Athens. Many times this blurring of identities was used to attack lower class citizens and claim them to be slaves based on profession on outward appearance, for political or personal purposes. Although the slave was not legally free, when not under the direct control of the master the slave could enjoy many of the aspects of free life that a citizen could enjoy.

A slave could worship with free men, discuss politics and life with free men at the agora, and do with free men as they pleased as long as this mutualistic relationship with his master remained intact.

In the absence of the master, a slave could very well be likened to a freeman.

Slavery in Ancient Greece

This semi-elevation of status brokered interesting negotiations in the balance of power between master and slave. Having established the intense connection and stake between master and slave, each party held considerable power on each side of the table.

For the slave, he controlled much of the lifestyle of the master through his work. If the slave does not produce the wage or the good necessary for the master to remain financially stable, then the master will perish. Thus, Xenophon states that it is in the best interest of the master to keep a positive relationship with his servant as to curtail disobedience and sabotage.

Although punishment was a common method of curtailing disobedience, and one certainly endorse by Xenophon, it was not always the most effective method as manumission was common among younger slaves.

relationship between slaves and masters in ancient greece

Slaves would depend on their masters for these rewards, and the possibility of manumission by being efficient and hardworking in their entrepreneurial endeavours. The slave had considerable power in the relational power negotiations.

During work, if the slave was unsatisfied in some way, the slave had many forms of passive resistance he could elect to pursue.

Slavery and Women in Ancient Greece

The slave could resist, before the master would punish them. In this case, the slave was not a passive receiver of the power of the master, but is in this case an active participant in the power negotiations.

The master does not have complete autonomy to dictate the terms of the relationship and therefore cedes a sliver of control to the slave. For the slave, compliance was gained when the slave could not bear punishments anymore or receive satisfaction for their grievances.

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According to Xenophon, most masters resorted to both punishment as well as reward to attain loyalty from their slaves. For the slaves, they can place themselves in a position to better depend on their masters for a greater standard of living and possible manumission. Through this power brokerage in the master-slave relationship, legitimate relationships could form between master and slave.

It was considered unfit for a man of distinction to carry out tasks that were fit only for foreigners and slaves, as Dickinson 1 points out: Aristotle, the most balanced of all Greek thinkers and the best exponent of the normal trend of their ideas, excludes the class of artisans from the citizenship of his ideal state on the ground that they are debarred by their occupation from the characteristic excellence of men.

Although Greeks did not have the sheer numbers of slaves that the Romans relied on, it is known that Plato owned 50 slaves, and that one man owned a thousand that he rented out. The exclusion of a large proportion of the population, namely slaves, foreigners and women 2from the citizenship of a Greek state allowed their particular form of direct democracy to take place much more readily. The numbers of the politically active population were reduced so much so that most of the citizens could meet in one place to discuss matters of importance to the state.

Slavery also allowed working citizens the luxury of taking a day off to attend the assemblies, which were held on a regular basis.

However, this alone was not enough to produce democracy. Slavery was the norm in every Greek city-state, yet only a few were governed by a democratic process. Although in 6BC typical governance had shifted away from tyranny to more collective systems, this does not necessarily imply democracy. Roberts 3 refers to oligarchies and constitutional governments as well as Athenian-style democracies.

Urbanisation Athenian democracy was not a representative democracy. Greeks were required to attend some 40 assemblies every year. This would have been difficult had Athenian society not become urbanised by the time of its institution as a governmental system.

Slavery and Women in Ancient Greece - The Role of Women in the Art of Ancient Greece

Poor soil in Attica had led to a reliance on imported grain 4 and hence the population of Athens were far more concerned with commercial ventures than agricultural ones. The city itself began to grow, and as the wealth of the Athenians increased, so did the urban population. An influx of foreigners attempting to improve their own position on the back of the Athenian economy led to further urban growth. Having the majority of its population, and certainly most of its citizens, within the city itself, meant that it was possible for people to attend the assemblies without taking several days off for travel.

The general population was also more concerned with matters of the state as they lived in a centralised area and therefore felt a heightened sense of community. Slavery, however, had already contributed largely to this aspect of Greek democracy. It was the use of slaves that lead to an increase of wealth which was sufficient enough to allow individuals to move from subsistence farming to other enterprises.

Slavery in Ancient Greece

The city-state itself owned slaves called hierodouloi who were responsible for much of the bureaucratic work of the state, as well as providing a police force. The fact that such activities were carried out at an extremely low wage level greatly increased the viability of the city-state as an entity, and hence accelerated the urbanisation of Athens and other cities.

Philosophical Developments Going hand in hand with politics in ancient Greece was philosophy. It was those men who contemplated the meaning of life, the universe and everything that were best equipped to shape the political atmosphere of a growing city-state.