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3. Slavery in Classical Athens
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the role of slavery in the Athenian economy of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. In particular, we think about the proportion of the Athenian population that were slaves and the extent to which ownership of slaves was spread out among the citizens of Athens, and the kinds of activities in which slaves might find themselves involved, either in the city, the countryside, or – worst of all – the silver mine at Laureion.
In this course, Dr David Lewis (University of Edinburgh) explores slavery in ancient Greece. We begin by looking at the earliest evidence for slavery in the Greek world, focusing in particular on the descriptions of slavery in the Linear B tablets of Mycenaean Greece (c. 1400 BC) as well as in the poetry of Homer and Hesiod – the Iliad, Odyssey, and the Works and Days. After that, we think about where slaves actually came from, and how they were delivered from the places that supplied them to the places that needed them. In the third module, we think about the role of slavery in Classical Athens, before turning in the fourth module to see how different the situation for slaves (or helots) in Sparta. In the fifth module, we think further about the diversity of the slave experience, and look at what slavery was like in other areas of the Greek world: Chios, Thessaly, Crete and Rhodes. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about manumission. Why did slave-owners sometimes free their slaves? How often did this happen? And what was the process involved?
David Lewis is a Lecturer in Greek History and Culture at the Department of Classics at the University of Edinburgh. He works on ancient Greek social, economic, and legal history in a broader Eastern Mediterranean context; to date most of his work has focused on slavery. He co-edited The Ancient Greek Economy: Markets, Households and City-States (Cambridge: CUP 2015), and his monograph Greek Slave Systems in their Eastern Mediterannean Context, c. 800-146 BC was published by OUP in 2018. His next monograph project will focus on urban labour in Athens and Piraeus, c. 450-250 BC.
Cite this Lecture
Lewis, D. (2019, January 19). Slavery in the Ancient Greek World - Slavery in Classical Athens [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/slavery-in-the-ancient-greek-world/slavery-in-classical-athens
Lewis, D. "Slavery in the Ancient Greek World – Slavery in Classical Athens." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 Jan 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/slavery-in-the-ancient-greek-world/slavery-in-classical-athens