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Serfdom and

Studies in Legal Bondage

Edited by M.L. Bush


London and New YQrk

I -


Addison Westey Longman

Edinburgh Gale, Hnrlow,
Essex CM20 ~E, Uniled Kingdom
alld a.lJociattd Companits throllghout the world.

Publishtd in the Unit,.d of Ammca Preface vu

by AddiJon Wesley Longman Publish i Itg 1n(.., New York.
PART ONE: Comparative studies of serfdom and slavery ix
© Addison Wesley Longm"n Limiled 1996

1. Inlroduction Michael Bush I

All righl$ reserved; no P,U'llJf lhi.• I'ublicillioll n'<ly be
reproduced, slored in a relrieval sySlem, or u-ansmiued 2. Slavery, serfdom and other forms of coerced labour: 18
. '. in <lny form or by any means, e1eclronic, mechanical, similarities and differences Stanley L. Engennan
I'hoLOcupying, I·ecording. or Olherwise without either lhe 3. Some conlroversial questions concerning nineteenth- 42
prior wriuen permission of lhe Puhlishers 01' a Iicenc.e century emancipation from slavery and serfdom Peter
permitting reslricted copying in the United Kingdom issued
by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd, Kolchin
90 Touenham Court Road. London WIP 9HE.
PART TWO: Themes and case studies on slavery 69
First published 1996
4. .ontinuit"}' and change in Western slave I"}': ancient to 7I
ISBN 0 582 291860 CSD
ISBN 0 582 29 J85 2 PPR modern times William D. Phillips, Jr.
!i. The origin and establishment of Ancient Greek slavery 89 Ubrl11J Cataloguillg-i'l-l'ublicotioll Data Tracey Rihll
/I. calalogue record of lhi~ book is G. The hierarchical household in Roman society: a study of 112
available from the Brilish Library domestic slavery Richard Saller
Ulmll] of eollfffSS Cntnlof{inJ!:-;l/-l'llblicntioll Dnta
• 7. Emancipation in Byzantium: Roman law in a medieval 130
S 'rfllol1l :",It ShIVery ; ~llIllie~ in Ic~al hllIHI:t~c/l'llilecl hy M.l.. IIl1sh. ~oricty Uo.seuu17Y Morris
p. c.m. R. New World slavery, Old World slavery Hvward Temperley 144
Includes bibliographical references <lIIU index. 9. Slave t:xploitation and the elementary structures of 158
ISBN 0-582-29186-0 (CSD). - ISBN 0-582-29185-2 (PPR)
enslavement Robin Blackburn
I. Slavery _ Hislory. 2. Serfdom - Hislory. I. Bush, M.L.
10. Slave emancipations in modern history David Turley 181
HT8G I.S3 1996
306.3'62 _ u<:20 96-12046
.11' PART TH REE: Themes and case studies on serfdom 197

Sel by 3 11. Serfdom in medieval and modern Europ :: a comparison 199

Produced by Longman Singapore l'ublishers (Ple) Lld.
Printed in Sing<lpore Michael Bush
)2. On servile status in the early Middle Age: Wendy Davies 225
,13. The ri es and declines of serfdom in me< ieval and early 247
modern Europe Robelt Brenner
vi Contenls

14. Memories of freedom: attitudes towards serfdom • in 277

England, 1200-1350 ChristO'jJher Dyer
Subject farmers in Brandenl.mrg-Pr.llssia and Poland: 296
village life and fortunes under manorialism in early
modern Central Europe William W. Hagen
J6. The serf economy and the sodal order in Russia Sleven 311
17. When and why was the Russian peasantry emancipated? 323
Bm'is N. Mironov The purpose of this book is to explore, comparatively and wit.hout
confinement to anyone period, the theme of servitude, as it was
~ ; Notes on cont7ilnttors 348 expressed through the history of serfdom and slavery. Approached
.. : I?ldex 351 in this general way, the subject could only be worked out properly by
means of a colloquy of ancient, medieval and modern scholars. This
book, therefore, had its beginnings in a conference held in Sep-
·1: .j
" lember J994, under the auspices of the History Department, Uni-
I':, versity of Manchester, and made possible by funds from this
department, the British Academy, the Rodewald Trust, the Econ-
omic History Society and the University of Manchester Research
. Fund. All deserve special thanks for tl1eir generosity.

I .: ,
Thanks are also due to the scholars, from France, Norway,
Germany, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom, who
, allended the conference. Apart from the speakers who are now the
allthors or this book, they are Constantine Brancovan who contrib-
11 "led a paper on tile emancipation of serfs in the Danubian

• Principalities, CJaus Meyer, Tom Scott, Roger Bartlett, Rosamund

Faith, Tom Wiedemann, jane Whittle, Zvi Razi, David Moon,
.. i; Margaret Vates, Elizabeth Smadja, Phillipe Schof1eld,john Hatcher,
Steven Hodkinson, Robert Millward, Nicholas Purcell, Maria Moisa,
• I'
t I

AIlI1C HIlRhes, joseph Burgin, Pat Hudson, Richard Boyle, S.C.
• 11
I' Todd, Christinc Hallett, Michael Rose, David Carpenter, Steven
Rigby, Graham Burton, Susan Sweetinburgh, Peter Gatrell, Norris
Nash, Tore Iverson and Isabel De Madariaga.

.Michael Bush,
Didsbury, Manchester,
~ September 1995

- - - ------- - -
88 Serfdom and slav""

people of colour were present throughout the British American

colonies and in the southern United States, but, their numbers were
relatively few· and opportunities for slaves to join their- ranks were
In fact, it may be argued thatl.he restrictions on manumission and
the incoillplete assimilation of freed slaves and their descendallts is
the greatest distinction between the slavery of the area that be.came
17w origin and establishment ofAncient
the United States and the slave systems that existed elsewhere, in
Rome or in Ponuguese and Spanish America. Some suggest that
Greek slavery
slavery should be properly seen as a mechanism of assimilation, for TRACEY RIH LL
bdnging in alien individuals and groups, teaching them the ways of UlIj(JerjilJ oJWalu, SwalUta
the host societies (while enjoying their fruits of their labour), ~nd,
after they had learned the rules, integrating them into the larger
The subject of this chapter is the formation of the world's first
group. Roman slavery operated in that fashion, as did ]slamic and
• t-;:t'lIl1ine slave society: why and how the Ancient Creeks inlensified
mediev~tl European slavery, even though we cannot forget that even
their slave holding practices fi'om the Honieric situation (c. 700 nc:),
if the mechanism existed, not all slaves could take advantage of it.
wherein slavery is a small-scale, unstructured and unregulated
The same was true to Cl lesser degree in the Americas, .though the
institution, to the classical situation (from c.500 ne), I wherein
easily identifiable racial distinctiveness of African slaves and their
slavel), is widespread, penetrates all sectors of society, and is
otlspring caused the host societies to place greatel- obstacles to their
governed by state laws.
manumission and assimilation.
This change coincided with 'the Creek Renaissance', a term for
]n conclusion, great similarities c!laracterize western slavely, from
Ih~ transformation of Creek society from i;npoverished villages
the time of the Roman Republic to the end of American slavery in
occupied by tens of illiterate people to rather .-icher city-stales
the nineteenth century. Throughout that long period, small-scale
occupied by thousands of literate citizens. Massive social and
slavery persisted: the slavery· of domestics and artisans in homes,
societal change was involved: the formation of the state, lhe inven-
fa.-ms, and workshops. At the beginning of the period and at its end,
lion of politics2 and the notion of distinct groups of citizens and
slavery on a larger scale developed, larger both in terms of the
ntHl~citizens; the development and widespread adoption of the
percentage of non-free in the total population and in terms of the
alphabet, and of written law; the adoption of coinage, and its not-so-
size of the slave gangs employed in productive enterp~ises. On the
obvious relationship to trade and markets; and numerous other
other hand, there were considerable differences. The large-scale
developments, such as the creation of drama (most notably, trag-
slavery of Ancient Rome and colonial America were diLTeren.t, not
only fl-om each other, but also from the prevailing small-scale slavery
of the iotclvening period. I Note that the focus of lhis chapter is the period prior 10 the Persiall Wars
(·I!UI-79 uc), after and as a result of which Creek perceptions of slaves and of
harlmrians (non-Grceks) were increasingly assimilated to one another. As Thuky-
didcs observed, '{Homer] does not use the term "foreigncu", and this, in my
. ~. upinion. is because in his Lime the Greeks were not yet known by one name, and so
Ill;ll'ked off as something separale from the outside world' (1.3). In the archaic
.. pl'l"iod fate, rather than race, wa~ used to explain why some men were slaves, and
. ' .! others free. Scc, for example. Herakleitos fr. 53 Diels (circa 500 ne): 'War is the
father of all, the king of all, and he has marked oUl some for gods. others for men; he
has made some slaves and others free'.
2 I use the lerm politics in the sellse of Finley's gloss, 'the an of reaching decisions
h}' public discussion and lhen of obeying those decisions as a necessary condition of
d\'iliscd sodal exiSlence', M.1. Finley. Democrat:] A"dmt and Modtm (London, 1985).
r. 13f. .

90 Selfdo11t and slavery The origin aud establishment ofAncient Greeh :ilav.ery \jj

·, cdy). In short, there was a revolution in the physical and intellectual caught by them. s Purchasers usually kept the slave in perpetuity.9
life of the Greeks, occurring over a period of approximately 250 Natal alienation was relatively undeveloped in Homeric Greece. in
years. !Ill rar as captives retained their own identities after enslavement,
] Hrst discuss slavery in Homeric Greece, and the conditions fur keeping their original names and patronyms. In addition, they
slaveholding therein. Then 1 discuss the develupment of slavery cuuld be allowed to live as a couple and produce a family, as were
during the al"chaic period, paying particular aucntion to expansion (wo slaves in the service of Odysseus' family.1I
and settlement at home and abroad, the slave trade, and 'the The're was no higher authority over the slave than the master.

advance, hand in hand, of freedom and slaver'" (Finley). I shall Slaves could be treated indulgently" or appallingly." offered free-
suggest a direct connection between incrcas('cl slaveholding and dom l1 or executed. 15 Slaves ,could even have-their own slave:
what is known as 't.he archaic crisis'.
Mesaulios served bread ~o them, a man whom [Eumaios, Odysseus'
slave swineherd] owned himself by himself and apart from his absent
master. and independently of [Penelope] and aged Laertes, having
Slaveholding in the worlds ofHomer and Hesiod bought him from the Taphians wiLh his own possessions.1 6

Slaves are present in Greek society from the time when written
Slaves were employed in agriculture, household production (e.g.
cvidence Hrst opens it to our view. Many slaves ill the Homeric epics textile manufacture), and domestic service. '7 Free men and women
might work in exactly the same areas, though some by choice rather
are unnamed and of unknown origin. The assumption throughout'
than compulsion,. For example, Odysseus boasts of his prowess in
is that slaves were ~orn free, and were made slaves through capture
farming and house-building,IS while Penelope fa.mollsly kept the
by warriors or kidnappers. 1 The repeated use of the phrase 'the day
of slavery' (like 'the day of death') shows that enslavement was
8 EUl1laios, Euryklcia, .1Ild Eumaios' unnamed Phoenici;m nanny, 15.482-4,
conceived as something which could happen to anyqne, for exam-
1.'128-33 and 15.426-9 respectively. .
ple: 'Zeus of the, wide brows takes away one half of the virtue of a 9 For cxample, EUlTlaios and EUI1/kleia, who are portrayed a~ old and as having
man, once the day of slavery closes upon him'.!i Adults and children heen in the lIervice of the same master since their sale to him in their youth.
f 10 For example, Aithre i,~ daughter of I'itlheus, III 144; Diomede b daughter of
captured by warriors in group assaults were collected together, I'horbas, IX Gr,5; Hekamede is daughter of Arsinoos, XI 625. In the OdYJJ~ we even
along with other booty, and then distributed by the raiding party or find grandfathcrs named: Eumaios is son of Ktesios. son of Ormeflos, 15.413-4;
victorious army amongst its members. The division of spoils was EIlI1'klcin is dauglltcr of aI's, son of Peisenor, 1.428-9.
11 24.387-501.
generally equitable, with those thought to be especially responsible 12 Fur example, the young Melanlho, oO"ered gifts and cared for by Pcnclope.
for the victory receiving extra. 6 !\5aptor (or warrior, to whonl the 18.32I1r., or young Eumaios, 'only a little less favoured' by his mistress tJlall hcr own
capli,'e is ,allotted) usually sold the captive on to someone else. For daughLer,15.351-70. .
l:l MclallLlli'lls is deliherately lorlured (22.170-8, 187-200) and mUlllated. tllen
exalllple, in the Iliad we are told that Ak!lillcus cOJnlllonly sold his app<II"clltly Idt. to bleed lu dcath (2~.473-()).

I captives overseas;7 in the Odyssey three of the slaves whose life

\ histories are told were purchased .when young by their owners, not
14 EUllI<lios and Philoitios are promised Iibcration in return for arming againsl
the Suilors alld any of the I"lter's kin and friends who came seeking revcnge

(:.11.213-6). All householders had their own weapons. and their slavc(s) might be
armed to light. with lhcmaster if necessary. ThQugh it is not SLatcd explicitly that they
~ Homcr's Iliad and Ud»J5e:')1, imd Hcsiod's WOlks alltf Vnys. Homcr's works are shall be freed, thc gran ling of wives, possessions and houses, and rccognition as
rcferrcd to by ROlllan C<lPS for book numbcrs in the Iliod. ·alld by Arabic for the 'companions ,lIld brolhers' of the master's only son. is far greater malerial and social
Odxury; line numbcrs are given in Arabic for both. Tr:lIlslations of Homer are elcvation lImn a classical period slave received on manumission. Real propcrty
Lilllilllorc's, those of Hcsiod (and Thcognis) are Wcnder·s. ownership. fOI" cxample, W(JS confined lo citizens. and freed slaves becamc metics
·1 For examplc, 15.384-H, 17.218IT. (rcsidclIl aliens), lIol citizens. Eumaios Imd earlier presumed that hc would at some
r:';;':i ;, 17.322-3. Lime be givcn house, laud and wife as reward for good service. 14.61-7.
1',.::. 6 See W. Donlan, 'Rcciprocities ill Homer', ClaJSiCfll World, 75 (1981/2), 137-75; 15 22.171-20U. 417-34.
and T.E. Rihll, 'The power of the Homeric bnsileis', in H. Hurt and]. Pinsent (eds), 16 14.449-:,2.
;.:' l~omer 87, Proceedings of thc· Sccond Greenbank ColloquiulU 011 Homcr (LCM, 17 For examplc, 22,422r. These jobs might be combined - Eumaios' nauny was
Ln'crpoul, 1992). pp. 39-50. also 'skilled in glorious handiwork', 15.418.
7 XXI 101-2. XXIV 751-3. 18 18.365-75 and 23.183-204 respectively.

!J2 ,\'(~~rdom mul slavery The origin and esta.blishment of Antic'nt Greelt Slavery !J3

Suitors at bay by unpicking at night what she had embroidered model of the emergence of a slave society in Greece on the premiss
during the day. that demand precedes supply, and then asked what conditions were
Besides householders and slaves there we!re also fugitives and nec.essary to create the demand. He theorized that, in summary,
wandcI'ers. Such persons were treated diI1't:rcnlly depending 011 their sullicicnt demand required at least three necessary conditions to
appearance: those who appeared to be 'upstanding' could expect to exist simultaneously: (a) in an agrarian world, there must be private
be offered hospitality and protection;IU those who appeared la be oWller~hip of land, and sufficient concentration in some hands to
'Iowlife' could expect la be offered scraps from the table, and menial need extra-familial labour for the permanent workforce; (b) there
work in return for subsistence?1 Both types were in a very precarious Illust be sufficient development of commodity production and
position, however, since the only sanction against their mislreaunenl markets, since slaves must be imported and therefore paid for; and
(including enslavement) by their 'host.' was Zcus Xenios.~.!l (c) the "vital negative condition', there must be unavailability of an
The picture of slavery in I:-Iesiod's epic poem on agricultural life, illl<:rnallabour supply.
the Works and Days, is similar to ihat portrayed by Homer. The I lis resulting model put the major transformation in the sixth
farmer is assumed to have one or more slaves. 22 , He is told to get a celltury. He tied it in with Solon's seisakhtheia (disburdenment) in
slave woman rather than a wife in tlie first instance,23 since the Athens,28 which he said made servile labour unavailable wit.hin the
former can follow the oxen and the la~ter should not. For agricul~ state and thus forced those who would eJnploy such labour to look
t.ural work Hesiod recommends t.he of malUre and experienced outside, thereby creating the 'vital negative condition' (condition
males of 40 years or thereabouts in preference to young Inen, " c). Finley's model is of a strongly st.ratified society composed of an
though it is not. ,clear from the context whether he refers here to cllll"enched landowning elite (condition a satisfied) and endebted
slaves or freernen, He assumes elsewhere that free males and tied peasants. Change, it is said, comes with the birth of democracy
females will be available for hire,'!!) and that friends will work for a in general and, in particular (through the seisakhtheia) , with Solon's
wage too,:w As in Homer, the tasks performed by slaves and hired liberation of the peasants (condition c satisfiedL which creates a
labourers may be p.erformed by the master and his faInily. sudden boost in demand for slaves, since the labour that was before
Slaveholding in Homeric and I-Iesiodic Greece depended on the provided by local debt-bondsmen is now sought from imported
usu~l general conditions a slave, having the opportunity slaves.
to acquire one, and having the necessary resources to acquire C!ne, There are four serious problems with Finley's model. Firstly, the
A serious attempt to explain the Creek experience was made by {~xtraordinary motive force (the birth of democracy) is not itself
Finley, whose views have been adopted by others. 27 Finley based his motivated. Secondly, what happened to the ex-endebted and pre-
sumably poor peasants has never been explained. Finley's assertion
19 For example, Phoinix, IX 478-83, Theoklymenns, 15.271-BI.
20 18.357-64, also 17.219-25. Both offers - the laucr made by a slave - arc almost Ihat they became unavailable to labour for others is a posit required
immediately withdrawn, on the grounds that 'silll:e [Ihis bothersollle beA"gal' who hr his third condition for the development of Greek slavery; he does
spoils the fUll of the feasting, lhe kind who stands and rubs his shoulders Oil many filii explain what these peasants will do in order to survive,29 Thirdly,
doorposts111<1s learned nothing but mischief, he will not be willing to go to work, lUll
would rather go begging all through the dislrict, asking for handouts and feeding up the model, like Solon's seisakhtheia, is specific to Attike; it simply will
, his bottomless belly', which' appears la be bm;cd all a stereotype or 'the beggar': nut work for ot.her Greek states. There is no evidence to suggest that
stereotypes do nOl [arm around uncommon phenomena. See also e.g. 14.124-30, Korinth, Aegina, Khios and other great slaveholding states - some of
17.3761',578. 18.1.
.l 21 For exampl.e. 14.388-408, 18.79-87. which were involved in large-scale slaveholding before Athens
entered the fray - or that those which enslaved neighbouring local
, 22 For example, Works (md Days 4fi9, 470, 502, 573, 597, G08.
23 Ibid. 405f. By deduction from 602, t.his should be a slave womau without a child
.:~ to nurse. . ~8 The seisaklltlieia was a reform of land tenure and debt practices which had
classified some people as heklemoroi, sixth-parters, and permitted their lawful ensIClvt:-
24 Ibid. 441-7.
2fi Ibid. 602-3, illl'lfS ;mt! erithni. mCll!. Solon abolished hekl.emomge, and liberaled the land and the people. See T.E.
Rihll, 'l-lektemoroi: )arUlers in crime?' ournalo Hellenic Studies ] 991 101-27.
26 Ibill. 370; ". ua()ocr 8' alJ8p~ 4nAw~ Elpl1JU.lJ(JeT aflKlOlT EOTW.
" 27 'The emergence of a slave soc.iety', ch. 2 in M.1. Finlcy, Am:iellt S/tIlll?T'j alld 29 t coul e argue t lat such people would ave been worse off after their
I Modem Tdeoll'lgy (Harmondsworth, 1983).' He is followed by Y. Garlan, Slavery in libcraLion, and thus more, nol less. likely la labour for their 'ex-lords' as wage
I Ancient Greeu (lthClca, 1988) pp. 38-40. lahourers.
94 Serfdom and slave,) 11te origin and establishmen.t ofAncient Greek Slavery 95

populatlollS instead, such as Sparta, ThessaJy, or Syrakusc. under- substitute labour force for the creditor class and guarantees for the
went a seisakhtheiaor suchlike la create the 'vitalllegal~vecondition'. emancipated (and potential) debtors.'ss Nevertheless, he asserts
Finally, Solon's reforms can be better explained without reference that in Gr<~cce and Rome 'debt-bondage was abolished tout court,
tu either private land or tied peasanls. 3fl U)' political action' ,31 yet he offers no evidence that the conditions
Moreover, his conditions are open la the followjng objections. which he identifies as necessary f~r the abolition were mel- who or
Firstly, there is no evidence to support condition a; it is a posit. 3I what provided sufficient force, who provided what guarantees for
Secondly. condition b is the natural assumption of an honest lhe debtor class - and onJy the inadequate suggestion that the
twenlielh-eentury man: its valldity for the ancient world is ques- "Itenlalive for the creditor class was in!=reased chal:tel slavery.s~ His
tionable. While Finley admitted that 'war and conquest were 110
doubt important contributing factors la the establiShm-cntand ..
interpretation remains one of a debt bondage system ~bolished by
fiat, withollt sufficient force to back up the decree, ~ithout workable
pf'esclvalion of a slave society' (p. 86), he believed tha"t war, raiding guarantees for the debtor class, and without any independent
and piracy could not have 'guaranteed' tile supply delnanded. "rgumen.t fur a sudden growth it:! chatteJ slavery in Athens around::1 ?
T]~!r.:!?~ h.e argued th·at. siav~s were acq~dl~ed prindpaily throuil~ Solon's time. - ~ . )
exchange. But what in the ancient world was guaranteed? Why One might also ask if Fillley's major premiss is correct - that the)
should slaves be any different? Finley's illustration 'of a . regular growth of slavery ill Ancient Greece was led by demand rather than ~ J
demand which needed a guaranteed supply is the Skylhian archer b)' ~I)'" The Spartans could nOL SLop farn~nLil Lhe)' had I
'police' force in Athens, set up no earlier than 477 ne and consisting
at first of a mel;e 300 men. It would certainly not have been
suhd1.t-eo uther people to do it for them, or they would have starved.
Hence [ believe that it is atleasl as important to focus on supply, on i
impossible, pace Finley, {or these archers to have been acquired Ihe opportunity to acquire slaves, as on the demand for thern. Also, r
through war, raiding, or tribute. The Napoleonic wars brought to an as Nieboer noticed,!J(j 'slavery will not exist if there is 110 opportunity
end centuries of Islamic militalY slavery; these slave armies - of procuring and retaining slaves. Where neither capture or pur-
numbering thousands not hundreds and also sl.ate"'Owned ...;. were chase of aliens, nor enslavement of members of the tribe is
normally recruited through slave raiding and slave tribute; they practicable, or where the slaves can very easily escape, slaves canno~
were not boughL S2 III addition, the terms 'sutlicient', 'commodity', be kept, though there might be m4-ch,use for them.'
'production' and 'markets' as used by Finley are all so ambiguous as . It is assumed in the Homeric poems that anyone, including a
to defy analysis. Finally, condition c is interpreted by Finley in t1le -. . sla,'c, would want a slave, and win acquire one, if they can, to do
context of his condition a: the existence of would-be employers - an .~~(-'hores for the master or his womenfolk. 1I7 It seems, therefor~, that
elite whose existence is a dubious posit - and a class of liberated i, .......! filcre was widespread demand for slaves in Homeric society. How-

peasants who used to, but now will not, work for that elite anymore. :: ~(,o~·cvcr, in the epics, trade exchange:; - including the sale of captives
However, internal labour may be unavailablc because most people ,,,,tI lhe purchasc of slaves - dep~'nd upon a supplier taking the
can and do subsist by working for thcmselves, rather than for othcrs. illiti:tlivc. For example, in the lli€!,d l'.uneos took bronze, iron, .hides,
This latler is the situation in Homeric, archaic and classical Greece, oxell and slaves as payment for the wine he shipped over, that is,
with a strong ideology to suit. !iiupplied, to the Akhaians outside Tr",:.'Y:
Elsewhere, Finley rightly stressed that 'debt-bondage is not an
The ships Gl11le over to [the Akhaians camped around Troyj from
institution which simply witJlcrs away without. any reasonl Nor can it Lcmnos bringing them wine, ships seHt over to lhem in numbers by
be abolished by simple Hat, unless sufficient force is present to back
up the decrees and workable alternatives exist fur both classes - a :l:\ M.1. Finlc)'. 'Dcbt·bond"gc and the probkm of slavery'. in 8.0. Shaw and R.IJ.
S.,llcr (eds), EalllolllY and Sot:i~J in A'laent Crete-' (Harmondsworlh, 1983), p. 162.
34 Ibid. p. 166, my emphasis.
30 See Rihll, 'Heklemoroi' (ltbovc, 11. 28). 3[, Fin/ey's U'calment is equally cavalier in ~Odl A,.anll SlaVtl, alld Modem ldeoiogy
31 And sce below for Thukydidcs' view on the rise and fall of landholding e1ites. and J:.'arly Gn"!!: the 8n",u and Archaic Agts (.Loll' on, 1981).
32 See D.H. Johnsol1, 'Sud:mcse military slavery fwm the eighteenth to the 36 HJ. Nicbocr, Slavtry (IJ an lndUJlrial SyJ{nn New York, 1971 reprint) pp. 417r.
nventiel.h centu.,.·, in L Archei· (cd.). Slavtry and Othn- Fom/,J of Unfru lAbou.r H Compare Arislolle 011 Hcsiod: the ox, or 1I ~ wife and children, take the place
(London, 1988), pp. 142-56. ~r:t slave for the pOOl" m~n, /"olith:J I 252b13 and. 323a4-5 respectively.
96 Serfdom and sLave" 11.. migin and establishment ofA ncient O1~ek Slavery 97
the son ofJasoll, Euneos, whom Hypsipyle had borne to the shepherd lhought to require any explanatory comment. Despite the presence
of the people Jason. Apart to the sons of Alreus, Agamemnon and or a number of slaves of both sexes, there was little slave breeding,
Menelaos, Jason 's son had given wine as a gift~ a thousand- measures;
and those who are house-born are retained by their parents'
and thence the rest of the flowing Imireu Akhaians bought wine,
lI1asICl's.<t' -For those who stayed at home in Hesiodic Greece, the
SOllle [01- bronze and others for shining iron, some for skins and sume
for Ihe whole oxen, while others paid slaves taken in war.!8 npportunity to acquire slaves appears to have been unproblematic:
Ilcsiod assumes that slaves of various types were available locally,
Eunc;:os initiated the exchange by supplying goods. and wanted presumably for purchase, for he offers guidance only on the kind of
payment'" for the goods he supplied, but did not specify the form slaves to acquire, not on how or where to acquire them. 11
that .payment took. Likewise, AkhiHeus initiated an exchange by For those Greeks who took to their ships, the world offered more,
shipping captives over to Lemnos, and received manufactured hut dangerous, opportunities: one might arrive on a foreign beach
goods froJ'n Euneos in exc.hange for lhem: 10 '[Akhilleus] that. time 10 capture people, as the Homeric heroes frequently do,45 or to
sold [Lykaon] as slave in strong~follnded Lemnos, carrying him purchase people caught by someone else, using other booty one
there by ship, and the son ofJason paid for him.'11 Similarly, in the had already acquired. Thus in Homeric Greece the opportunities to
Odyssey, Phoenician merchants (who, after a year going from house acquire slaves were greater fOf those who voyaged abroad with
to house in Eumaios' home town, had finally done enough trading strong arms and strong companions, for those who created the
10 leave port.) otTered escape home to a compatriot woman in opportunity rather than w.dted for it lo arrive.
slavery. Her ullties included looking after her master's SOil, Since relatively few Greeks voyaged abroad, for most people the
Eumaios. She offered her charge and assorted household goods as oppurtunity to acquire a slave relied on captors disposing of their
reward for transportationj she did not ask for transportation, nor captives, and lhus making them available to othen. Evidently, we
did the Phoenician merchanlS ask for payment. In the poems it is IIccd lo ask why those who had captured people wishedlOCnspose of
the sup/JUers of goods and sentices who look the initiative. ,!.:j. !f Z~ (hem, rather than keep, themas-Uieir own slaves. Tnere are. I think,
Slaves could be acquired in three ways: by capture, purchase, or ~~princi al factors. Fi;SlIY..L.warrMc-wa~waw.or~si ll:cupation;
birth. For those Greeks who stayed at home in the Homeric period, cilptives and booty were the products of_his labgur. Given the
the oppol"lunity to acquire a slave by capture arose relatively rarely widespread demand for slaves, a successful warrior with surplus
and then from external circumstances, such as when a fugitive or captives had products whose value could only be fully realized
wanderer was met passing through the country. The opportunity to Ihrough sale, for material gain, or gift,16 for status gain. ,Secondly,
acquire a slave by purchase was also limited, and arose likewise fr~m slaves were perhaps the only product of personal labour for which
external circllrnstances beyond one's control, namely the appear- lhere_was a strong pressure to dispose ofjl'!!rRlu~Toil of the spear
ance of a boatload of foreigners' 12 on one's bead,l. However, this is c()~l1d produce captives, livestock, and perishable and imperishable
: not presented as an unusual event, nor is the purchase of a slave material goods. Livestock were normally driven home if acquired in
:iN VII 467-75. a honler ..aid, or slaughtered and eaten on the spot if acquired

39 From everyone except the expedition leaders, Agamemnon and Mcnclaos.
10 XXI 10-1. . .
41 Wilh a small but beautiful Phoenician silver mixing-bowl, claimed 10 be worth
] 00 oxen, XXI 78-9. which was);ller olTered by Akhilleus as first prize in the foot race
al Patroklos' funeral games, XXI 35-41 with XXIII 740-9_
o",:rseas. Materials goods could be consumed if perishable, or
stored indefinitely if not. Captives. from the time they were taken,
'1:\ Even when the house-born slaves turn out to be 'disloyal', they are slaughtered
r;uhcr !.han sold on. This is perhaps because it would be difficult to dispose of them
42 In this context Crecks arc usually ig:norcd by scholars in favour of Pho.cnicians, lueally. given the small scale of Ule community and the rel:uive lack of natal
who sell onc individual into slavery when presented with the 0ppul"lllnily 10 do so alienation of the slaves_
(EulOaios). Sentimental philhellenism or anti-Semitism might be blamed for this 44 Payment was presumably made in agricultural pl-oduce. since Hesiod was
bias. Nor is it commonly ."knowledgcd that Tapllian pirates, who arc mentioned Icollring to farmers, and was proud 10 be a landlubber.
sevcl-al times as lhe suppliers of individual slaves (e.g. Mesaulios). wel-e Creeks, .1:; For example. Odyssells at Ismaros (9.39-43). AkhillclIs in Ihe islands (IX
hailing from Akarnania on the west coast of the mainland. The relul"Iling heroes of 28K-330), and Menelaos in Kypros. Phoenicia, Egypt, Aithiopia. Libya and e1sewhcre
Tt"oy, though nOl foreigners. ardved homc laden wilh captives and boOly, some of

1-1.79-91). .
which Ihey might have exchanged wilh neighbours who had not participated in lhe ·111 Slaves that were given away were normally given as prizes in a competition
I, expedititlll.. IIrg-ani7.ed by the giver, e_g. XXIII 257-70~
- ~--
,~ .
98 Se1dom and slavery Tlte O1igin and establishment o/Ancient Greek Slavery 99

required at least feeding and guarding, and the quantity and quality Suitors prevailed upon Telemakhos 49 and Odysseus-' crew (and
of their guarding increased in proportion to their ·humbers and erstwhile 'fo1l0wers') prevailed upon him. 5o Rhetorical ability was
their 'wildness'., Possession of more capt.ives than the captor could "nother obvious advantage, both for persuading and dissuading
casily use, maintain and control. was a uraill 011 his material people from taking various courses uf actioll, but was inferior to
resources and a risk to his life. physical might if the two were in opposition. 51
In addition, even if a captor did not have surplus captives, he Warrior aclventure-rs such as Akhilleus and Agamemnon were
would often still wish to exchange some [('If those of another involved in a high-risk, potentially high-profit occupation. They
warrior, because such an exchange would bring benefits' to both invested their time 52 and their energy, and risked their Hves (and
parties; it would transform the captor-captive relationship into a decent burial) on expeditions abroad.5~ If they were effective, (heir
master-slave one, thus sidestepping any personal enmity that might return was great honour, and booty, which consisted marnly of
exist between captive and captor. and insening a social divide or ctlptives, mallufactured goods,54 and livestock; if they were not, then
dist.ance between master and slave, which would make domination Ihcy would be lucky to get home alive."
easier for both parties. Exchange would also separate captives In principle, anyone could try their hand at acquiring resources
acquired together, and so promote their natal alienation. ill this fashiun, by risking life and liberty to seize something from
Acquiring the necessary resources to procUl-c a slave, when the sollleone else. In practice, several individuals usually needed to act
opportunity arose, was not especially difficult in early Greece. The together - often enough men to man a ship,56 For example, a slave
resources required were the physical ability to capture people )or goathcnl speculated about kidnapping a stranger and selling him Cd l," ufl
material resources to use in exchange. or pre-existing possession of abroad, but lacked the courage to act;57 a disinherited Kretan (aka
surplus material resources to use in exchange, or pre-existing
\\ possession of slaves of both sexes. 47
Early Greece was, in modern parlance, an ~~~~~~~~~e, il~ 19 Sce, fur example, J H.69-B9.
which those with courage, initiative, physical strength and appro- 50 See, for cxall)ple, J2.297. The same p<luern occurs at 9.43'-61.
:)1 Onlcilder.,hip in Homeric Greece see Rihll, 'Uasilcis' (above, 11. 6).
priate skills could work to acquire what they desired, usually by r,~ This could be considcrable - 20 years for Odysselts and not much less for
getting on their ship. Slaves and other goods. if produced by toil AKOlmclllllolI, for example.
of the spear, were free; there was no need {or commodities 1.0 be rJ~ Battle WilS noLthe,only l"isk; the elements, cspccially the sea, claimed many lives
loo. Sce, for example. Solon fr. 13 (WCSI): 'one wanders across the fish-filled sea,
spent in their acquisition. The formula 'Strangers. who are you? \(.·ekillg to bring: profil hOlllc in ships, not'grudging his life when he is lossed aboul hy
From where do you come sailing over the watery ways? Is it on lJui.~tcrolls winds' (Rhodes translaLion); and Theognis 1375-6: 'The happy mall'S in

ve*Ocll;,v ....... ,la,&f somc business, or are you recklessly roving as pirates do,_ when loH', ;1I1d docsn't know the sea, or fear night fillling on tllC waves'.
U • (b rl·1 Of which melals, smeltcd lumps or worked objects, were highly prized.
).<.v.01f e.- nd they sail on the salt sea and vcnture their lives as they wander, r,!l Hcsiod's I:tLher's SLor}' (quoted below) confirms whtl.l onc would expect from
bringing evil to alien people?',48 epitomizes the situation: foreigners comparaLivc c\,idt:llce or 'a life on the wilves' in thesc d"cumsl<lllces: lhilt SOIllC
who turn up on the beach may be peaceful visitors or pirates, t!ldr fll'lIl'h: wefe driven 10 scal"arillH" hy poverty, lloL cllticcd inlo il by a spiril or ;H!vcIlLm'c,
ami thaL lhc rewards j"or mOSl people were poor. See also Solon fr. J3 (quoled n. 53)
categorization depending upon their behaviuur in t.he land. The :mdThcogllis 179-80, 1197-1202.
usual behaviour of the Homeric heroes was 10 bring evil to alien :,6 Consider Thukydidcs' COllllllent (1.5) lhtl.l 'as communication by sea becmne
C'a.,icr, so piracy bccame a common profession both among the Greeks and
lhe barharians who lived on the coast and the islands. The leading pirRtes were
It was a laissez.{ait-e culture in so far as there was no slale to powerful mcn, acting both out of self-inleresl and ill order lo support lhe weak
regulate behaviour, and thus might was, in most drcumstances, iIImollg their'own people. They would desccnd on cilies which were unprotected by
:.:!{"'>;.,~. right. Personal strength was an obvious advantage, as too was an wall~ and indeed consisted only of scattered sculements, Rnd by plundering slIch
places Ihey would g:ain mos~ of their livelihood. Al this Lime such a profession, so far
~ advantage in numbers: groups could prevail upon individuals, as the rnulI being. rcgai-dcd <IS disgraceful, was considered quite honourable. It is an
iII11.i1l1de thaL call be iIlustraled even today [late C5) by some of lhe inhabitants of
17 In this period children il.ppear lo inherit the status of lhc falher (e.g. Odyssells r the mainland, <llllong whom successful piracy is regarded as something to be proud
;llias the disillherilcd Kret<lll, or the lyric poet Arkhilokhm), lherefore <I female sla\'e ,~ or.·
was not a ~lIniciellt from whith to brced slaves. ~7 17.2'17-5:\. He also would have had difficulty tl]>ing to underlake the venture
48 Fur eX<llllple. ~.71-1, 14.85...6. ,~~ alone.

panies abroad. !it!

Serfdom and slavery

Odysseus) raised substantial resources by leading successful raiding

Less aggressive but equally enterprising people could acquire the

11.. origin and establishment ofAncient Greek Slavery

hands to enlarge the farm, rather than to work lhe saJ!le plot more
This, however, could cause problems within the community. In
10 I

necessary l'eSQurces to purchase a slave by peaceful hard gran. The his review of the eady history of GI-eece, Thukydides comments
. slave Eumaios, for example, acquired his own slave Mesaulios by (1.2) :
careful· husbanding of his master's livesLock. 5 !J People could also
III the belief that the day-to-day necessities of life could be secured
acquire free land, by laking wild land into cultivation, as Laertes just as well in one place as in another, the early Creeks showed no
did, establishing a new farm, with orchards, on the outskirts of relucla.nce in moving from their homes, and therefore built no cities
the cultivated area. 60 There was sufficient open land in Homeric or any size or strength. nor acquired any important resources. Where
Greece for those who acquired slaves to employ them. More hands the soil was most fenile there were the most frequent changes of
enabled the master t:o cultivate 1!1ore land, taken in from the population, as in what is now called Thessaly, in Iloiotia, in most parLs
open countryside. Hesiod assumes that more hands could be thus of the Peloponnese (except Arkadia), and in other of the richest
employed: parts of C..-eece, Fa..- in these fertile districLS it was easier for some
individuals to gain greater power than others: this caused slasis [civil
Thel"e should he an only son, 1.0 feed his l"alllt=r's house, for so weallh ullrest/war], which destroyed these communities, which were an)'\'lay
will incre,lsc in the home; but if you I<:avc.\ second SOil yOll should die l!lure likt::iy than less fertile regions to be targeted by other groups.
old. li' Yt:t Zeus can easily give great we<.\1Lh 10 a greater number. More
The last senl.enceG!'t makes clear Thukydides' view that where fertile
hands mean mOI-e work and more increase. m
land allowed some men in the group to become more powerfulthal1
others. the result was not the formation of an entrenched elite, but
The implication is that more hands allow the farm either to be
civil strife. By contrast, successful pirate leaders who acted 'out of
enlarged, or to be worked more intensively. Since his father 'used to
self-interest and in order to support the weak amongst their own
sail on shipboard because he lacked sufficient livelihood, and one
people· 66 seem not to have destabilized the society group. We
uay came to this place crossing over a great stretch of sea, and left
(Ieduce that unequal landholding was a greater cause of resentment
Aeolian Kyme and fled, not from riches and substance, but from
than unequal weallh held in other forms. This is consistent with the
wretched poverty which Zeus lays upon men, and settled near
cOlJlmon cry of discontents during the archaic crisis for a redistribu-
Helicon in a miserable hamlet, Askra',6:\ one assumes that, as in
'ion of land (rather than of wealth per se), and the apportioning of
Homeric Greece, there was wild land which could be brought into '.. land in Greek settlements overseas into equal plots. 67
cultivation by anyone so mind.ed to work it - including foreigners
settling in the area-- and that Hesiod is thinking of using extra
fi·! Inl1l1ing of mainland areas is archaeologically attcsted for example in Boiotia
.' (lI~sinrl's region) and in Attikc (the lelTItory of Alhens). This is commonly
~M 14.22U-34. Scc ;\Iso Theugnis 279-»2, 743-52. Nymphodoros of SYI~lkusc a/mll alll'jllllleil to indigenous populatioll gl'owlh, but thel'c W;lS also a slrong t.-aditioll of
Alhenacus (i.265d (cul\veuienlly in T. Wicdelll<lnn, Gre/'k awl Roman ~l/lTJ,n, (London, n·rll~t:cs from unstable areas migrating to Athens (rccordcd in e.g. Thukytlidcs 1.2),
1983), p. 84) olTers a parallel for Odys.~ell$ alias the Krelan: 'since he was a brave mall .\Ill! of the forcign origins of some famous Athenians (e.g. Herodotos 5.55, 65, and
whn had" Int of luck when il came 10 fighting, he came to lead thc runaway slaves in dsewhcrc on thc PeisiSlratidai, the tyrannicides and others). Some proponion of this
the same way as a king leads all ann)". population should be accounled for as imporlcd slaves, especi'llly perhaps in eighth-
59 14.449-52. Herdsmen seem to be perlllillcd use of the yOllng .\nilll;Jls thcy c~lltury Attikc, whcn there is a relatively dramatic rise ill the number of burials.
hrced (sce e.g. 14.80- J), but living independently they havc ample opportunily to Classical archaeologists working on the archaic period do not yet seem to have
usc mature animab too, e.g. 14.414-7.20.210-25. The c10scst parallel to this sort of cnnnected the growth in lhe number of slaves in Creek communities with their
slave employment is pcrhaps the l~ISk Ilyslcm, 011 which sec R.W. FORd, Witlloul illtcrJll'ctation~ of the quantity (and quality) of the material evidence; the disposal of
COllSeIll or COJllracl (London, 1989), pp. 192-4. slave corpses (at least) requires some cOllsideraLion. .
::'." '
60 24.205-7. 6.~ And the following section, in which Thukydides develops his theory of Athens's
61 His conccm with the number of heirs dc.-ivcs from the sysu:m of partibl~ pulitical stability resulting from the poverty of her soil.
inheritancc; slavcs did nOI inhcrit, therefore their numbers were irrelevant to lhat Gfi 1.5, quoted in full above n. 56.
issue. 67 Sce, for example, A.M. Snodgrass, Archaic o,?eu: the Age ofExjJeliment (London,
62 Works ami Vuys 376-80. 19ROL pp. 90-7 on redistribution, and O. Murray. Early w?er.e (London. ]993), pp.
63 Ibid. 633-40. 11:\-15 on plots.
, The origin and establishment 0/ Ancient Greek Slavery 103
~ 102 Selfdom and slavt!1)
) . '0f~~lA.~- I:
spear is won lhe wine of Ismaros, which I drink, leanmg on my ~
The development of slavery between c. ~oo and spear'. His ancient (but not contemporary) critic "-Kr'itias cites a
,. 500 BC poem (fr. 295) in which Arkhilokhos Slated that his mother Enipo
was a Thracian slave, of whom there might have been as many as a ,
During t.he archaic period the developmellt o( slaver)' was fostered thousand all Thasos. 72
in particular by two other developments. bolh uf which increased Raiding the aTea around a new settlement, as Arkhilokhos did,
and improved the production and supply of slaves to the Greek could provide irregular, although not necessarily insubstantial,
heartlands. One was expansion and settlement on the periphery of Ilumbers uf new slaves, but establishing tribute or trading networks
the Greek world, through which more captives were produced;6A the with the natives ensured a regular flow of slaves into the settlement
other was the growth of the slave trade. through which the new With corresponding improvements in the distribution system, the ,
captives were distributed la the consuming areas. Another sig- new ·slaves could be shipped from these recruiting areas on the
nificant and related development was the creatiun of politics. ""rgins of Greek world (especially Sicily, Thrace, and.the Black Sea
At approximately the same t.ime as the Homeric and Hesiodic hinterland) to the core areas which consumed slaves in large
poems were being written down, boatloads of Greeks began plant- numbers. T)"le initial 'stab-and-grab' method was supplemented or
ing new sculemcl1ts around the MeditelTanean and Black Sea replaced by· such networks in some areas, for example, in Arkhilo-
coasts: much free land was available overseas. usually after the khos' region. Arkhilokhos' complaints about the Peisistratids' offer
natives were captured, killed or expelled. This expansion went on of gold to the natives in Thrace, and his sarcastic I:eference to lyre
spuradically for approximately 200 years, frum c.750 to c.550 BC. ami rJlIlc-players,'3 implies that the Peisistratids' relations with the
Similar expansions at different times in human history and ill Thracians did not involve the use of weapons. Arkhilokhos acquired I
difTerent regions of the world have often invol\'ed the enslavement slaves by capturing them with the spear; ti,e PeisiSlratids apparently I
of natives in the process, but to date Hellenists have seemed acquired them by exchange.
reluctant to consider the possibility that the Greeks behaved as did New setllemcnts such as Thasos led to greater numbers of slaves 1
the Romans, Arabs, Europeans, and many other peoples for whom heing produced overseas, but production would not have continued I
rapid expansion was associated with a new and relatively plentiful (and grown) without a concomitant scaling up of the slave trade to
supply of slaves. There is no good reason for this blinkered view if, llilitriuute these new slaves to consumers in the Greek motherlands
as is likely, the Greek adventurers and seulers behaved in much the and the Near East.'" The slave trade is difficult to document at any I
same way as the Homeric heroes, or as Arkhilokhos - one of the few
individual settlers known to us through his own words.
period in alltiquity.?!i However, trade in slaves is alrcady apparcllt,in
IlulIler: some locations were known as places where captives might
His father or grandfather had led a P~ian I expedition to the
..o'j' _,<~c. . I
he exchanged (e.g. Samos, Imbros 76 )j some peoples were known as I
island of Thasos ofT the coast of Tluace, w lence lorays mto l le
mainland continued intu and beyond Arkhilokhos' lifetime. Arkhi-
people who will take captives in return for somcthing else (e_g.
~:lIIICOS, Sicilians77 ); sonic peoples ~er~ known as pirates alld I
lokhos despised Thasos.(;!) He went there le~~llse .he was ill need, !illppliers of captives who will take 70theT goods in exchange (e.g. I
becoming a soldier of fortune, and spec ahzmg III hand-to-hand Taphians). A trade in slaves is assumed to exist in Hes~od: the
combat 70 His fellow selllers would appeal to have been in similar
72 H.D. Rail kin, AuJtilo€hu-s ofPal'os (New Jersey, 1981), p. 15.
straits." The aptly named 'spear song' (fr. 2) strongly suggests lhal
he had a slave-woman attendant acquired like everything else he
n ' 'I;
9:1<.. the third centurY inscripLion which quotcs this poem adds that thc
. 1 rd.,i~I"'llids got their jmt desel"lj when sotne of them were killed by Arkhilokhos'
mentions, by the spear: 'By spear is knc3 led lhe bread I eat, U}' rari;ms and othcu by the Thracians. indicating that even .at this lale date some
(;rceh preferrcd thc smO-and-grah method.
68 I ulTcT here only a "cry condenscd stlm~~icws~Il. lhis s~lbjcct. rO.T 74 Greeks bl"Ought slaves la the markets of Phoenicia and Lydia, for cxample; see
which scc T.E. Rihll. ·Wa,·, slavcry and sclllemcnl in culy GI·ccce ,Ill]. Rich and (•. u_ckieI27.5-25.
Shipley (cds), Wm·I1,,,d SoriPly in aI' Grl!l!k Wmin' (Lolld 11, H:l!13). pp. 77-107. 7:i Scc Carlall'5 live paKes, in Slavny, pp. 48-9, 53-5, "lost of which is cOllcel"l\cd
69 FIT. 20, 21. 11.12. 228 West ,,·ilh salc condition alld price.
70 Fr. 295, 216, autl 3 W respectively. ill XXIV 753.
7J FI". 109 W. n 20.382-3.
104 Seifdom a1ul .flavet) 7'he origin. and establishment DJ Ancient Greeh Slavery 105

opportunity La acquire locally slaves of dHferent types is taken for During the sixtll,century BC coinage was adopted from the L~dians,
granted. However, this trade was sI11all scale, frOJIl individual cap- Coinage - small lumps of precious metal of guaranteed quanl~ty and
tives (e.g. Eumaios, Mesaulios) to a few boatJoads (e.g. Odysseus' quality _ was taken up by the Greeks la perform all the funcuons of
harvest fi'om Ismaros). and was fundamentally unpredictable for money: as a,standard of value, a means of payment, a mechanisll~ of
producers and consumers alike. That things changed afler Lite exchange, and a store of wealth. Coinage liberated trade, by makmg
period of Homer and Hesiod is signified by. t.he emergence and the disposal of surplus goods and the acquisition of desired on~s
dominance of onc standard tenn for slave, doulos. 78 The panhellenic much easier. It also made it possible (but not necessary) to trade 111
recognition of one term for 'slave' surely resulted from the growth just one commodity; henceforth the slave trade could be said to
of the international slave trade, in which speakers of difTerent 'exist as such. Early adopters of coinage were Aegina, Athens and
. dialeclS needed the means la signify unambiguously the subject of Korinth; all three were renowned (later) as great slaveholding states.
their (rade. 7ft The growth of the slave trade was also facilitated by the fact Lhal
The Homeric hero captured people on sporadic expediLiolls slave acquisition and trading was an occupation which was easy to
abrmld, with the result that his slaves wel'e foreigners in his enter and to It required little capill'lI,82 lots of courage, and
homeland and came from many diffel-ent places. This would have some luck. M Profits were unpredictable, variable, and normally (we
made them aW-active to potential purchasers in the homeland, and mighL assume) small, since trades which are easy la enter and exiL
he may be considered an (occasional) importer of slaves. By are highly competitive. .
contrast, the captives of the settler in the New World were acquired Finally, another (though much less significant) fac~o~ Ul. the
locally, with the result that the selller was the fureigner in their laud, p;rowth of the slave trade was the curtailment (not the ehmll1allon)
and they were all of the same stock. This would have made them of internal enslavement: Le. of the enslavement of members of the
unattractive to potential purchasers in the new seulement. How· social/civic group.8<4 A particular landmark in this process in A~~ens
ever, individually they would be attractiye to buyers back in the was Solon's law of c.590 BC which forbade using the body of a Clllzen
motherland; thus the producer of slaves in the New World needed to 1 borrower (or his dependellts) as security for a loan. However, an
become an exporter of slaves. This, as well as the increasing number f Alhenian citizen who had been taken prisoner by the enemy and
ransomed by a fellow citizen was the laLLer's property until the
of slaves procured in the new settlements, and the more predictable
nature of their supply after tribute or trading networks with the ransom was repaid,M ~nternal enslavement in ALhens was also
natives had been established, stimulated the gl"owth of the distribu-
tion system, in the form of the export of sla\(es in bulk frol1l the BI Al ICOlSt on a small scale: in lhe surviving Athenian law courl speeches lhe
recruiting areas, and of the markets in which they could be sold. HO ,.i ~ccCllld mosl commonly cited type of criminal 'oo-badder' (KQKOUP'Y0a) i~ 'slave-
lIlakt.'rs', who, wilh 'c!othes-slealers', are mentioned eight times (the mosl common
The growth -in the slave trade was connected also with the (xl'l) arc thieves). These 'slave-makers' are people who kidnap a fre~ person an.d sdI
adoption of coinage, and the specializaLion it made possible. In lhe him or hcr to a slave-trader or direct to a purchaser. Such an abduction ofa c1uld or
adult mil{hl well he confuscd by wilncsses for a law-ahiding making a perfectly
worlds of I-Iomer and I-Icsiod, buyers ~",d sellers of slaves payor are
IJfl'I)~~r seizure of his pl"Operly; sec Lysias 23 (f>anklcon), for example.
paid in manufactured goods or agricultuml produce, therefore 8:l Scc Xcnopholl SYIIlP 4.36: 'through poverty some mcn are forced 'to SIC"'!' or
slave-traders were general traders who dealt in various goods, burgh:, or become sla\lc traders'. Also Aristophancs We?llh ~22-3: 'Who woul~t have
all illCt:nlive to trade in slaves if he was already well oID (Wlcdemann lranslalJon).
78 Ncithe,' Homer 1IU1' Hcsiod use dOIlUu. Homer has the feminine tlO1de. He and 83 Besides tJle physical risks inClined, thel'e were legal l'is,ks if one was caught
I-Icsiod normally usc dmM and dmol! for 'slave'. making slaves of compatriots: the penalty in Athens was .ex~cutlOn.
79 This is not to say lhat other terms are not used later, but then each term seems 84 Finley's model makes this the primary factor mouvaung the growth of chattel
to indicate a specific type of slave, or to signify something specific about the slave in slavery in Greece. .. .
question. Sec e.g. F.D. Harvey, 'Hcrodotus and the man-footed creature',' in' L, 85 II sho~.tld be noted lhat lhis is the only known law restricting IIlternal
Archer (cd) Sl~wmy mId OtherFqnlls OfU11fru Labolt'l" (London, 1988). pp. 42-52, cnslavemcnl in Athens, and that senliment, ralher than law, scems to have inhibilerl
80 Th<\t the two activities, of production hy seizurc and distribution by cxch;:mgc, ,, the practice for olher offences, See A.R.W. Harrison, 'flu Law of AlhOl$, \101, 2
" - '
could be practiced by the same people is evinced in the story of the Phokaialls who, (Procedure). (Oxford, 1971), pp. 168-9. .
86 DcmostJlenes 53 (Niltostratos) 11. A similar provision existed at Gorlyn 11\ }{rete,
heing denied possession of the Oinoussai islands (Ht>ar Khios) in case they eslab-
lished.a markcl there, wcnt on LO Alalia (on Corsica) whence they plundered the , lAwr.ode 6.46-56 (conveniently translated in R..F. WilletlS, Tlu Civilisation DJ "ndOlt
\licinity (Herodolos 1.16!,)-6). Crtte (London, 1977). pp. 216-23).

106 Serfdom and slavery 71le origin. and esta.blishml!Jlt ofAn.cient G1-eeh Slave,] 107

possible for Athenian women convicted of promiscuity,87 and for self-rule, often under-interpreted as meaning merely 'self-suffi-
babies born to Athenian parents and exposed but ~.escued and cient': ·CXV7o.PXT!0" [autarkhes] does not of course mean that the
taised as slaves by others. Also. other Greeks in Athens could be individual dges not give anything to, nor receive anything from,
enslaved. It is important to remember that the Greek poleis were another, but that he is in a position to do both'.91 That is to say, the
independent sLales, so that Korinthians, Spanans, Thebans or autarkhic man can give and take, he is free to act. 92 The presence of
freedmen (for example) wen;: nol protected by laws such as Solon's, slaves generates awareness amongst tlle free of constraints which
which concerned only Athenians in Athens. Enslavement was the may be imposed upon them, of constraints upon tlleir freedom of
judicial pcnalLy fur a IHunuer of offences concerned with Athenian action.
dlizenship.6R As in the Islamic states after the introduction of the All Greeks agreed that the master was despot" over the slave.
QUI-';\IHC. law ap;3l11sl
. the enslavement of free persons,'"af \·11
(ler Wlie DesJJotes means someone who has (or thinks s/he has) absolute
MIISlillls c:Olllc1 ollly he clIslavc:d under dearly defined circum- power over the life of others; hence, someone who does not defer to
sl:llln'~, bws l'itlch as Sololl's lIIust havc limited the local' supply of others, someone who does not expect olhers to hinder what slhe
lIew slaves and thus fostereu tile growth of the slave trade, though to wants to do, someone who tells others what to do in a blunt manner
what extent would depend of course on the previous level of and expects them to do it; in short, someone wh'o treats others as
nxrlliUllcl1l frulII the outlawed activity. In my opillion that was small 'nobodies' .
ill pre-Solonic Athens. Surviving literature of the seventh century ·uc is I'eplete with
Having argued above that what requires explanation in the Cr'eek complaints about some men's growing arrogance, pride and greed,
case is the growth in the supply of slaves, and that this was achieved and their dishonourable, intimidatory and unjust behaviour towards
initially by raiding. expansion, and settlement abroad, followed by their fellows.!l~ The .pel'ipd is generally known as the archaic crisis.
the establishment of tribute/trading networks and growth of the and J suggest that its chief cause was the increasing number of
slave trade, I shall now argue that the development of politics was slaveholders. who behaved badly towards their fellows, as well as
motivated by the growth of slavery, rather than, as Finley argued, towards their slaves,!14 This is well illustrated in a poem attributed to
vice versa. FI'cedom, as many have observed, is the absence of Ilubrias: lIs
My wealth is here; the sword and spear;
Before ~Iavery people simply could not have conceived of the thing The breast·defending shield;
we call freedom .. [in pre·lI1odcm nun·slavehokling societie.~] With this I plough, with this I sow;
happiness was membership, being was belong-ing; leadership was the With this 1 reap the field.
ultimate demonstration of these two qualities. It is an ahuse of With this I tread the luscious grape,
language to refe.- to membership and belonging as a kind of And dl'ink the blood-red wine;
, freedom; freedom is nut a faculty or a power to do something ... '[a And slaves around in order wait,
mall] sa),s he i~ free to (Io [sumething] onl), whell ht, w:lIlls 10 refer 10 And all arc counled mine,
the absence of impedill1elll1i in the way of duing it' .~11I But he, who will not rear the lance
Upun the battle field,
We can. compare this with the Creek notion of autarohy, literall), Nor sw,",)' the sword, nor stand behind
~7 Carlau, Sll1vPIY, p. 45.
HK 1'01' examplc, " YOIlII~ llIall who allempled lo enrol all a chizCll (as evel)' 91 A.W. GOlllme, A /·/iJtQrical Commentary ott Thu<Jdides, vol. I (Oxford, 1959), p.
Atheni:llI youth had to), 11111 wall rcjected by the IJand or dCllleslllell on Ihe gnJUnds 127.
thal he wmi lIot "I,,,fllt-mf rrreC'I'IlH:lllher or a citi7.clI family')' cuuld appeal to the 92 This: is in contrast t(, EAEvOEpmT, ekutheroj, which originally meant 'a member of
cOIll'ls: ir tbe COUl't accepted him, the dClllcsmcn had to em'ol him; if it rejected him, -" rarnily', but cam~ to mean 'free' because sl~vcs are natally alienated.
he ~.'l sold into slavery. Occasionally. the lislS were revised, and all men claiming 93 Apparentlirst in Homer (Akhilleus' complaints againstAgamemnon), continu-
citizellllhip were subject to the same procedures. Persons cOlwicted of behaving like ing 011 lhrough Hesiod and the lyric poeL~. See W, Donlan, 'The tradition of anti·
citizem whell lhey were not were also sold into slavery by the .Hate. ' :lristocratic thoughl in early Grcek poetry', Hi.ttoria, 22 (1973), 145-54.
B9 On which sce B. Lewis, Race a"d Slavery in the Middf~ Brul (Oxford, l990). 94 Sec B1ackburn on the tensions of living with slavcholders: below, ch. 9.
90 O. P;tttcrson, Slnvr.ry and S"cial Death (Cambridge, MA, 1982), pp. 340-2, ciLill~ 95 Probably a pscudonym, rcnectillg lh~ hubristic attitude of the speaker. The
M. Cr::Ul5Ion, Fr"ef'fI"1/I (19!',3), I'). 19. tr:mslation is Sandford's, in The Greek Aflthology (London, 1876), p. 176.
108 Serfdom and slave,., The origin and establishment of Ancient ereek Slavery 109

The breast~defending'shield, seemed that he struck him from malice, and not from wine; that he
On lowly knee must wonhip me,<.l the pretext of holiday and drunkenness Lo commit hubris,
With servile kiss adOl'ed, tre:\Ling a free man as a slave [180].
And peal the cl)' of humage high,
AJl(.l hail me mighty lurd. Thus we see lhallhe hubris law was viewed as a law designed not to
protect slaves, but to discourage a certain type of behaviour in the
This sort of attitude and behaviour towards fellow citizens brought III:lstcr-class and to protect the dignity and honour of freemen.
abollt a severe c1ctcriOl·.ation in public SOci~11 life: conflicts arose During lhis period of crisis many poleis underwent a more or less
when freemen (who may themselves have been slaveholders) were hrie(t!l spell of control by a tyrannos (misleadingly but unavoidably
tre.ued like slaves, and the conflicts spawned lawgivers, written law translated .'tyrant'): Athens 30 years after Solon's reforms, The-
codes, and tyrallts.!Hi ognis' home of Megara. Kor:inth, Argos and numerous lesser known
For example, about 600 BC a law was introduced in Athens to comlllunities. The tyrant .might be assumed to demonstrate the
protect people fl-om despotic behaviour: the hubris law, which has triumph of the slrongest man in the stale, bUl I think that this is
been taken, wl-ongly, to demonstrate the humanity of Athenians mistaken, and that tyrants, like written laws, were 'solutions' to
towards their slaves. Hubris might be translated as premeditaled prOtect the majority from the minority in a crisis situation.
humiliation with violence.!I? The core of the idea is well expressed in For this was a militia society: the people were the army. The
various passages in Demosthenes A'leirlitu:!lH . citizens constituted the strongest coercive force in the state. Every-
<", I tt. (' , 'I r , , /11 •
Audto ~uc1~ lc..:n_Hth did [Ihe lawgiverJ g"o Ihat if huhris he dOIll' c..:vell olle had to defend himself, in so-called peacetime as well as ill
, war-time. Even in classical times t.he lIse of violence hy private in-
( r>l' (r '.'r tu a .slave, he allow.s an indictment fOl' itjusl the samc: for hc thollg"ltt
the question ;a."i. n~l 'who is the'. but 'what is the character of l dividuals was a necessary adjunct to the public legal process.

the action?'; and finding it to be unjustifiable, he forbade the thing to (Jfo [.,t ~c, Commllnity or citizen militias, not a standing or paid al'my, under-
be done either to a slave or at all. For there is nothing, men of ) wrote the safely a.nd freedom of its members. One corollary of
Alhen.s, nothing in the world more intolerable than hubris, nothing citizen self-defence is that weapons of some description were in
It. ' " , which you ought la resent more deeply (46] ... It i.s nOl the ~ . . '1<' I re. ('very home, and the owner was familiar with their lIse. Another is
" , which causes anger, but the di.sgrace; it is llf)t the beating which is so b
that weapons had a high priority in every household budget, since
J," 1. 1 ( grievous to free men (grievous though it is). but the insulL ... these
personal freedom and survival depended on them; each citizen was
Ihing~~xcite, these things put men besides Ihemselvc.s, when they < I

I" ,', , .J. ,unused to indignities [72] ... There was another Ill,an 'whom the ,\ armed as well as possible.
who'ie"a.sscmbly pronounced to have committed a contempt of therl~l.{t\,\..\'rJ I This, I believe, was the crucial factor which led to the birth of
fe.stival, and when he came befon~ yOLl he was senlcncedlO death: ~}-(1 (~(I-II politics in general and democracy in particular: the presence of
Ktesikles. Why so? Because he carried' a whip in the procession and, . slaves made the freeman aware of possible constraints which might
when he w.ts dnlllk, i;.lshed a man with wholll he had !I"d a quarrel. II h(' imposed 011 him, and he tuns physically able to resist his reduction to
96 For discussion of the conflicts and subscC(uent developmcllts, sce Murray, Hmi] slave-like slatus - to a position where he would have to take orders
(above, n. 67).
Creer:~ from someone else. As Weber observed,lol it makes a profound
97 See N.R.E. Fi.sllcr, Hubris (Warminslcr, HJ9:!) for a full discu.ssiull of the
difference lO a society whether its army is supplied or self-supplying.
98 Oraph~ hub"m is the action Demosthencs is pmsecllting - a puhlic suit A self-equipped army requires that the citizens are armed, not
cOllccl'oing the damage to the honour ""nd dignity or the victim. damage dune by one defenceless; that leaders - induding 'lyrants' - mllst persuade, for
\...ho \......s excessively insolent to the victim; the redress sought is punishmclIL of the they cannot eommand; that a leadel' is dependent on the goodwill
perpetrator and tlwrchy restoration of the victim's honour. Thcre is no fixed pcnahy
because the gravity of the charge, and LIHIS the severity of the penahy, is assesscd in
,..•.. each individual case 011 the basis of the status of the perpctralol' and of lhe victim, mJ Tyrannical rule was typically brief, and sometimes elective (an institution
and the extent or the damage 10 the victim's hOllour. Cf. English libel/slander taws knuwn as the lI;sumndeia, with fixc:d-term tenure of office e.g. ten years).
and jury sctting uf dalllagcs. In Athens any fillC illlposcd 011 this charge was Jl:lid to lOO See A. Linlou, Violence, Civil Strif~ and R~ltll;on in till! QlIJsiUlI City (Becken-
thc treasury. not the victim. An alternative charge is the rlikl! aikias. a privat.c suit halll, 1982).
conccl'lIing assault and bmlery; the redress sought in that case is pecuniary COIll- 101 M. Weber, Economy and Society. ed. G. Roth and C. Wittich (Berkeley. CA,
pCns'lliOIl for the victim, the money to be paid by tht: perpelr.ltor. 197H), vol. 2, pp.. 1260-2.
] 10 ,">erfilO1lL and .slave,] 1'he origin> mid esla;blishmenl of Ancient Greek SlaVl!1] ]11

of the led, rather than the led being dependent on the goodwill of service, for office holding, and Coj· assembly allendance wel-c
the leader; that in consequence power is' por\llar~ nol despotic. introduced lo overcome this constraint, and that old qualification
Leaders in such a society cannot impose their will hy ()rcc. rules hased 011. wealth were ignored if not rescinued (as for the
The free Greek did nOl wish to be constrained by olher freemen, Arkhonship at Athens),
[or that made him like a slave. That is how the Greeks came to view Ancient Greece was the first genuine slave society, and also the
barbarians - even Skythian chieftains or Persian nobility - if Lhe)' lirst political society: This was not coincidental: But slaves did not
were bound to obey an ovedord. The ideology arose that having la liimply allow the classical Greeks the leisure tiJne to participate in
lake orders from another was equivalenllo being in slavery.I02 politics' rather and much more significantly, the growth of slavery
The lack or
constraint necessary for true freedom was viewed " " k'. \"
ill the archaic period prompted the Gree s to mvent po lUes.

differently by different communities. A lax view, such as that of the

Athenians, was that one was honourable (ejJili1llos),I03 as well as of
course being male, onc of 'us' Athenians, and adult. t04 A strict
interpretation added the absence of economic cOllslraints: these
were the oligarchies where a certain level of wealth was required
before" one was permiUcd to participate fully ill political clecisiun-
making, Here the poor were seen as people undcr conslraint,
constrained lo spend time ull procuring their daily hrcad,ln~ As such
they were nol fully free, and were not entitled to participate fully in
politics, A feature of ancient democracies tlKi was thal pay for jury

lO2 Well cxpreMed (much later) ill a story in Plut;uch dL FortI/un Alexandri I G
that' (Alexander thc Great] did Ilot follow Aristodc's advice "to dC:11 with the Grccks
as a leadcr, but with the barbarialls <IS a mastcl", and tu takc C'I.I'C of the former
as or fricnds and relatives, while treating the laller as one would It'eat animals 01
plants '"
103 That is, legally ill pOMcssion or olle's right!;, This was tile dcfalllt position, llllt
lIlIC could be deprived of some or ,,11 vr onc's rights through being dccl:lred al;",o"1
(literally 'dishonourable', llsually lr.lIIslated 'disli"allChised') as "judicial penalty for
u!Tcm:cs against the comlllllllity, For very serious otTcllC{~s this was a Ilereditaq'
disqualilic.,tioll, hcnce some al;l1Io; were sllch because nf crimes COlllmitted nut hr
themselvcs but by their ancestors, Sec M,H, I-Ianscn, A/)(Igflgt, '!IIdrixu alld q,11r~if
agni,ul hakofllgoi, ati'Mi and"llhelll{O"/~.s (Odellse, 1976).
101 EiRhtccn-ye;1I's-0Id ror assemhly attendancc ;llld vOlillg righl.~, thiny-year,~-nltl
fur jllry service ~nd tCIl~II"C uf l1lust ollices,
105 The C'"ccks saw wOI"k as a necessary evil; they did nol sce it as something which
intrimically did lhe worker any good. Sce, for example, the olig:JI"chically-indincd
Xcnol>hon, OihOllomihO.f 4"2: 'manual crafts are, n,Hllrally enough, held in ullcr
disdain in nur polds, For tlley spoil the bodies or the workmen and the foremcn,
forcing them to sit still and livc indoors, and in some cases to spend the day at the lirc
. morcover these crafts leave no time spare for attention to onc's friends <lnd the
city, so that those who pn\ctice them al'e reput.ed bad at dealing with friends and bad
defenders of their comu'1' - ill faet, in some poleis ' , , it is not legal for citizens to
work ill craft.o;.' The ideal W,IS not to have to work at OIl!. bUl few were sufficiently
w('althy to achieve lhis ideal ami thus to believe in it whn.leheartedly.
106 Greck uemokratia is not tJa: same 3.! the modern concept of uemocracy, The
meOlning ordelllokr<lti<l. is best illustrated in the phrase 'to mic and be ruled in tUI"Il',
The v.t~t In;uoril)' of 'lurns' laSlcd onc year, and to decide whose turn it was, thl'
AthcniOllls used not e1Ct:tiOIl, bUl a lottcl)', In 'mixed COtl.!itilutinns' [Aristotle] such as 107 This chaplCl" has been significantly improved by Stephen Hodkinson's
Span..·s, 'nlling and '-'dng mled ill turn' was the demokratie element. thllll~htful criticisms of an earlier version, for which I am extremely grateful.

I ~,.