That golden age in which, according to later comedy writers, there were no slaves yet, must be sought at an early age. From tradition, slaves had always existed in countries around the Aegean Sea, where slave capture and trafficking were so easy and the Phoenicians had been teachers and precursors.
Homer wore slavery to a peculiar grandeur in two figures: Eumaeus, who resists thieves and bandits despite his own property status, and the glorious Eurycleia. Homer, it is true, is concerned only with the royal courts and the great leaders. It is difficult to determine to what extent Hesiod in Works and Days considered the rural workers slaves; no doubt, however, the poet regarded honest agricultural work not as banausical but as beneficial. In addition to those subject to consideration, it is likely that agriculture was almost exclusively in the hands of free people in the late ninth century.
At the other end of the scale, the possessing classes began to despise work and workers, acquiring that anti-banal attitude that regarded noble athletic games as the only purpose worthy of life. This aristocracy somehow seized the best land, now and after all the land within the city-state territory, and got the landless free men to cultivate it for them. But these menial hands on the farm may have preserved the memory of better days that their parents enjoyed while still living in villages before the merciless polis was founded.
Once colonization was in full swing, many undoubtedly tried to escape servitude and slavery. And the earlier the colonies provided slaves, the easier the gaps in the ranks of agricultural labor were, for these colonies were mainly in the coasts where captured inland slaves were exchanged. In the Hellenic-Hellenic wars, the victors killed the grown men and sold wives and children, apparently abroad. When they spared the men, they did not keep them as domestic slaves, but to work in the mines, or they kept them for high ransom.
Since many regions were totally dependent on slave labor, war was a very irregular and uncertain source to supply the need; Only trade guaranteed regularity. Keeping an adult Greek captive as a slave in one's home was certainly difficult and dangerous. In most cases we found that the slaves kept in houses or fields were of barbaric origin.
In rural areas, where people lived predominantly in villages, workers remained free for a long time; Among the Locrians and Focians, the younger members of the family used to serve the eldest or firstborn. They did not keep slaves until just before the holy war of the fourth century. When a polis fully developed its potential, it did so through slave labor. And who, as a free man, worked on farms or in the city for wages, found the idea of citizenship out of reach. In fact, the free man could hardly find a market for his services, because slaves and metics (resident aliens) filled the need. Such a man would rather look for work every day than be on a promise, which would have been a kind of bondage to him, for it made him feel dependent.
Where and in what states did slaves become family workers and farm and craft workers? When and where were the galleys manned by slaves? Large companies that exploit masses of workers, such as mines, have presumably always been operated by slave labor.
The slaves came from various sources. Scythians, Getaus, Lydians, Phrygians, Paphlagonians, Caries, Syrians filled Greek houses and farms. Cautious buyers tried to get each slave of a different nationality, which was easy to do where only three or four were used. It is not certain whether barbarian slave traders turned more to their own people, to war captives or to slave hunting to supply the market.
During the height of Greece, even a highly cultivated Hellene could become a slave to another Greek who fell into the clutches of a powerful enemy or a pirate. Once someone had become a slave, citizenship or high birth were of no use. Phaedo and Plato suffered this fate, the former in his youth, the latter when he was already a famous philosopher. Both were rescued. From time to time, a second owner may speculate about the chance of redemption. Diogenes remained with his buyer Cenyad of Corinth, later obviously voluntarily.
In the fifth century, the average price of a common slave was two mines, the mine worth a hundred drachmas. In the fourth century, one and a half mines were considered reasonable, showing that the supply was constant and abundant. Otherwise, more slaves would have been raised at home to complement overseas purchases. But raising slaves was not considered lucrative; indeed, marriage between slaves (little more than concubinage and badly tolerated by masters) was not considered convenient unless it was desired to unite the best slaves through their children to the service of the house and their welfare.
Not much was expected of slave children. Annual friction was estimated at ten percent, and one naturally wished to keep slaves as useful animals. We saw the friend suffer or perish without worrying; but one took the slave to the doctor and took care of him, if he died, he was sorry and considered it a loss.
We may ask what happened when a region became so impoverished that it could no longer buy slaves, and especially when the number of free-born workers fell as they became more reluctant to work. Most likely the country soon turned into a waste.
Later Cappadocians, Phrygians and Lidians used to bake because of their skill in it. On large estates, a slave was made overseer of others, and among the slaves became the stewardess who was carefully instructed and treated with care and discretion. Aristotle supposed that one should respect and deal fairly with the slaves in charge of the most responsible jobs, while giving the common people plenty of good healthy food. Larger families needed porters to check in and out. A slave who is no longer useful for other work may well have dealt with it.
Sophocles's father's slaves were all builders and braziers, those of Isocrates. Dad were all flutes makers. Some workshops may employ hundreds of slaves, depending on the business and conditions of the times. In the mines there were many thousands of slaves, either owned by the state or by a private owner. Citizens were concerned about the miserable existence of these slaves only when they threatened to become dangerous. One document that Xenophon is hoped not to have written portraying Athenian citizens how profitable it would be to employ more slaves in the silver mines, for with 10,000 they would consume a hundred talents a year and, sufficiently increasing that number, could all live without work.
As if the number of slaves in Attica's houses and fields was not enough, Xenophon thinks that the state should have at least three slaves in the silver mines for each citizen, a good sixty thousand at the time; then Athens would be even more orderly and more efficient in war. These proposals are as foolish as the encouragement given to resident foreigners or metics, who should be drawn to Athens in large numbers. How hard it would have been for Athens to live on this kind of income! A single unfortunate battle taking the lives of many citizens would have allowed the Metics to become masters of the state already literally undermined.
These metrics were of Lydia, Phrygia, and Syrian origin, as were many of the slaves; in part they may have been the sons of slaves who had been set free, and several domestic and silver mine slaves who presumably were also set free. Xenophon finally wonders if the approval of his proposals should not be sought in Dodona and Delphi and, if approved, under the protection of which gods they must be executed.
It is hard for us to think of Greece as housing between four to five million free men and twelve million slaves, almost all foreign extraction (Hellwald); from Attics as having four times more slaves than free men (Curtis), not to mention individual industrial cities like Corinth, where free men made up about one tenth of the population; the state of Corinth should have had 460,000 slaves and Aegina totally 40,000.
No one has ever been blinded to the great dangers of all this slavery involved. Of course, the mobs that sometimes dominated entire cities were not slaves, as the word used to describe them suggests, but suppressed the natives. The great slave wars in Sicily actually took place under Roman rule when the landlord system greatly increased the number of slaves. Simultaneously to the second revolt in Sicily, the slaves in the Attica mines now grew in many myriads, revolted (about 100 BC) and killed their guards and took the Acropolis in Sunium and began to devastate the land.
The greater the number of slaves in a state, the more severe the discipline and the more urgent the desire for escape and revenge. In all wars people feared that large masses of slaves would break their fetters. More than twenty thousand slaves, mostly skilled craftsmen, hence the most valuable, fled their Athenian masters, pressured by defeat in Sicily and the occupation of Deceleum by King Agis and his Spartan troops. The strategy in war included provoking the revolt of the enemy slaves; therefore, anyone who could somehow control him would remove his slaves along with the rest of his family at the border for security when an enemy threatened to invade. The winner of a naval compromise freed the slaves from the crowd and restricted their masters.
Even in peacetime, the nation had to endure the consequences of the fact that all free men in the country's most developed cities and districts rejected work with all their might. As will be seen, in some places better and more comfortable conditions existed, but in Attica it was known that, as a rule, slaves were malevolent towards their masters. Basically, a slave owner was protected by the proximity of his neighbor, who also owned slaves.
Says Plato: Citizens serve as volunteer bodyguards. Wealthy city people who have many slaves live without fear, because the whole city is ready to help all individuals. But if some god moved a master of fifty slaves, along with his family and all his property, out of town into a desert where no stranger would help him, what fear would he have of his slaves dispatching him? He would have to be kind to some, making them promising and freeing them without any cause; he would be the flatterer of his slaves or his sacrificial victim.
A slaveholder whose slaves knew of a mistake he had made could consider himself the most unfortunate of all men, being held hostage for life and in a position to punish them, no matter what they did; from time to time they could have been released for reporting on it. It follows that an intelligent slave was even considered dangerous, and especially when contaminated by the mindset of free citizens.
The fact that the slaves were barbarian or semi-barbarian a priori qualified the treatment they received. This fact also induced Plato and Aristotle to classify them into a low theoretical position, even if their motive is not expressly stated. That Aristotle was kindly and kindly disposed towards them, as is evident in his last will and testament, further results in his honor. Slave owners stiffened with pity at the surrounding hordes whose lives were worse than death. Laws prevented the master from deliberately killing and raping his slaves, perhaps less for their protection than to prevent him from brutalizing himself; otherwise, he could discipline and mistreat them as he pleased.
One misfortune for all slaves was the very presence of that most miserable class, the slave slaves, who for centuries were mistreated the way humans could be. They received only the things necessary to keep them alive and with some force; when not at work, they must have been permanently handcuffed. Even ordinary slaves were often handcuffed, not for reasons of discipline, but to prevent their escape.
The fact that a slave would rather be a burden on a farm than a servant in a town house was undoubtedly because of his generally rural origin, and under a sensible master his plot was as bearable as any he could. wait if you came home. . The slave slave was probably treated as well as a hired hand today, because the care of the animals depended so much on his goodwill.
The shepherds of Sicily and Lower Italy mentioned by Theocritus were no doubt slaves, yet they, like the slaves of Xenophon's farm, had their own property, including sheep and goats, and could make beautiful gifts. The Arcadians gave luxurious entertainment to which they invited the masters and their slaves, serving the same dishes and mixing their wine in the same bowl (krater). From time to time masters served the slaves at parties and played dice with them. When the Greeks learned of Roman Saturnalia, where it was customary, they discovered that it was a Hellenic banquet.
The common way to deal with slaves, according to Xenophon, was to control exuberance through starvation, banish laziness by whipping, prevent flight by shackles, and steal by locking up everything that could be.
After the Peloponnese War, the slaves of Athens were bold and free in their behavior. Their dresses resembled those of the Metics and the poorer citizens, so they could hardly be distinguished because they all looked almost the same shabby. Often they were better off, thanks to their ownership, which, judging by later comedies, must have been plenty. After the defeat at Chaeronea, the people of Athens intended to free the slaves by incorporating the metrics and restoring their honors to the disgraced.
In Demosthenes' day, slaves were bolder than the citizens of many cities; It seems that they also attended the theater, from time to time participating in the mysterious attic rites, and when the party spirit rose, they even made way for the popular assembly.
In highly cultivated Athens, however, the slave could at any moment be more bitterly reminded of his true status. Some, Plato says, do not trust their slaves and therefore irritate and lash them often and often, through which they actually enslave their souls. In addition there was also the judicial torture of slaves, which the Athenians must be supposed to resort to quite often. In court proceedings, even in civil proceedings, a litigant may subject his own slaves to testify on his behalf under torture or require his opponent to bring his slaves to court to testify against him under torture.
In connection with his demand for the torture of the slaves of his victim Leocrates, speaker Licurgo, whose rude emotional appeals tell us a great deal about the judicial process in the fourth century, calls the torture of slaves by far the most just and appropriate means to obtain in the background. of a court case. Leocrates refused, and therefore supposedly betrayed his bad conscience, as if a human disposition and feelings of kindness for his slaves had not contributed. Perjury and false witness abounded in Athens at that time. Certainly, once slave torture became legitimate in court proceedings, it was only a matter of time before torture could be applied to non-slaves.
The slave was still a commodity, and occasional favors thrown at him were only apparent; such as placing him as a pedagogue in charge of children until they developed into adolescence. We should also remember that the pedagogue's duty was essentially negative, that is, to protect and defend the child, while the teachers themselves were free men, and especially that although it was possible to hire a free man as a teacher for a teacher. while, particularly if he was a fellow citizen, it was very difficult to maintain him for long, because he was not used to and therefore not fit to live such dependence. Choosing from one or many slaves, the one best suited for the task should have been fairly easy over the years; undoubtedly the mutual trust and attachment gained between some masters and slaves, as attested by various epitaphs of prominent slaves, and also of faithful nurses who were also slaves.
In general, the slaves who had been released did not smell good. Clearly, when evil and ungrateful slaves were set free, they hated their master above all people because he knew them in his bondage. In the newest attic comedy, the freed slave often appeared as an accuser in court (no doubt against his master), as if the pleasure of free speech consisted of making accusations, and what was typical of comedy should have been common in life. . The slave so vexatiously freed in Luciano's Timon must no doubt be relegated to the days of Imperial Rome, as well as to Trimalchio in Petronius.
Of course, there have been instances when a slave was given free rein for mastering a specific skill in a craft, skills occasionally appearing, but not necessarily as hereditary in a free Greek family.
And finally, it is evident that the slaves performed all the special routine work that the state, particularly the highly organized Athenian state, should have done. They were the secretaries, lower officers, police, etc. The ambitious free man wanted nothing to do with a small office; he would be a demagogue or starve. One demo man snatched only the offices that promised to fill their pockets.