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Ancient Greece

Slaves and Slavery

History >> Ancient Greece

It may seem strange (and horrible) to us today, but slavery was a common practice during the time period of Ancient Greece. Most Greek families owned at least one slave and slaves were an important part of the culture and economy of Ancient Greece.

Did the Greeks have a lot of slaves?

Historians aren't sure exactly how many slaves the Greeks owned, but they usually estimate that between 30 and 40 percent of the population were slaves. Even the poorest families owned at least one slave with some wealthy families owning hundreds.

Where did the slaves come from?

Most of the slaves were foreigners who had been captured in war or purchased through the slave trade.

What kind of work did they do?

Slaves did a wide variety of work depending on their skills and who owned them. Some slaves performed hard labor in the mines or on farms. Other slaves did household chores or worked as artisans in the city.

Did they have any rights?

There were different types of slaves in Ancient Greece and different rules depending on the city where the slave lived. However, in general, slaves had few rights. They had to work long hours doing whatever job their owner demanded. Slaves couldn't own property and had fewer rights than citizens. In most cases, they could not be put to death without a fair trial.

Were slaves ever set free?

Yes, slaves were sometimes set free by their owners (called "manumission"). Owners may also allow the slave to save up money and buy their own freedom. Freed slaves were still not considered full citizens and often had obligations to their former owners.

How did they know who was a slave?

It was sometimes difficult to tell a slave from a free person in Ancient Greece. Slave women often had their hair cut short. This would have marked them as a slave because free women kept their hair long. Sometimes slaves were marked with scars or tattoos so they could be recognized as slaves.

Slaves of the Spartans

The Spartans ruled over a group of people called the Helots. The Helots were treated like slaves by the Spartans. They farmed the land and performed other manual labor for the Spartans. There were actually a lot more Helots than Spartans. In order to keep control, the Spartans had secret police who kept track of the Helots and killed anyone who they thought might rebel.

Interesting Facts About Slaves in Ancient Greece
Activities For more about Ancient Greece:

Overview
Timeline of Ancient Greece
Geography
The City of Athens
Sparta
Minoans and Mycenaeans
Greek City-states
Peloponnesian War
Persian Wars
Decline and Fall
Legacy of Ancient Greece
Glossary and Terms

Arts and Culture
Ancient Greek Art
Drama and Theater
Architecture
Olympic Games
Government of Ancient Greece
Greek Alphabet

Daily Life
Daily Lives of the Ancient Greeks
Typical Greek Town
Food
Clothing
Women in Greece
Science and Technology
Soldiers and War
Slaves

People
Alexander the Great
Archimedes
Aristotle
Pericles
Plato
Socrates
25 Famous Greek People
Greek Philosophers

Greek Mythology
Greek Gods and Mythology
Hercules
Achilles
Monsters of Greek Mythology
The Titans
The Iliad
The Odyssey

The Olympian Gods
Zeus
Hera
Poseidon
Apollo
Artemis
Hermes
Athena
Ares
Aphrodite
Hephaestus
Demeter
Hestia
Dionysus
Hades

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Greece






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