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Athenian Chattel Slavery 1. Defining a true Slave Society 2. 2. Chattel Slavery at Athens.

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Presentation on theme: "Athenian Chattel Slavery 1. Defining a true Slave Society 2. 2. Chattel Slavery at Athens."— Presentation transcript:

1 Athenian Chattel Slavery 1. Defining a true Slave Society Chattel Slavery at Athens

2 True Slave Societies modern definition True Slave Societies modern definition most common definition based on demography most common definition based on demography a slave society is a society in which slaves play an important part in production and form a high proportion (over 20 %) of the population a slave society is a society in which slaves play an important part in production and form a high proportion (over 20 %) of the population Based on this – 5 societies qualify:, Based on this – 5 societies qualify:, 1. Athens, 2. Roman Italy, 3. Brazil, 4. Caribbean, 5. United States 1. Athens, 2. Roman Italy, 3. Brazil, 4. Caribbean, 5. United States Roman Italy in Augustan period ca. 35% slaves; Roman Italy in Augustan period ca. 35% slaves;

3 Classical Athens 500 – 323 BC Legal Status of Athenian Slaves slave a moveable chattel, a possession, property slave a moveable chattel, a possession, property Private owner = despotes; Any free person, citizen or foreigner (metic = resident alien) Private owner = despotes; Any free person, citizen or foreigner (metic = resident alien) demosioi = public slaves, administration, public works, etc., demosioi = public slaves, administration, public works, etc., As chattel a slave had no rights As chattel a slave had no rights No legal family (although often tolerated) No legal family (although often tolerated) No legal identity – only as property of his owner No legal identity – only as property of his owner status of non-person status of non-person Greek slaves could keep some religious rites Greek slaves could keep some religious rites

4 The Classical Athenian Model of Chattel Slavery Our modern notion of chattel slavery is based on the Athenian model Our modern notion of chattel slavery is based on the Athenian model Two characteristics: 1. they were foreigners (law of Solon prohibited Athenian citizens to be bought/sold as slaves); 2. could be bought and sold like things; Two characteristics: 1. they were foreigners (law of Solon prohibited Athenian citizens to be bought/sold as slaves); 2. could be bought and sold like things; Chattel slavery shaped by Aristotelian theories, Chattel slavery shaped by Aristotelian theories, Further developed in Roman law, became the practice of slave-holding in European colonies, and in New World Slavery Further developed in Roman law, became the practice of slave-holding in European colonies, and in New World Slavery Difference in practice of manumission: Romans were generous in manumitting (free ) slaves and confer Roman citizenship (or Latin status) on freedmen and freedwomen; Difference in practice of manumission: Romans were generous in manumitting (free ) slaves and confer Roman citizenship (or Latin status) on freedmen and freedwomen; Slaves paid price for ‘purchase’ of freedom – roughly market value Slaves paid price for ‘purchase’ of freedom – roughly market value Slaves manumitted at Athens became ‘metics’ = resident aliens; Slaves manumitted at Athens became ‘metics’ = resident aliens; Classical period had a patron (prostates) whom they owed some services Classical period had a patron (prostates) whom they owed some services extremely rare that an ex-slave received citizenship extremely rare that an ex-slave received citizenship Exception Exception

5 The Athenian slave in the oikos and community Every new slave was ritually introduced to the household Every new slave was ritually introduced to the household Like a bride showered with nuts and fruits (symbols of prosperity) Like a bride showered with nuts and fruits (symbols of prosperity) Initialized into cult of household gods. Initialized into cult of household gods. Although property of owner – excessive force against slaves not condoned by community: no castration, unjustified beatings, injuries, Although property of owner – excessive force against slaves not condoned by community: no castration, unjustified beatings, injuries, Cultural notion of hybris (excess, outrage) – hybris offended the gods Cultural notion of hybris (excess, outrage) – hybris offended the gods

6 Aeschines 1.17 “ It was not for the slaves that the lawgiver was concerned, but he wished to accustom you [the citizens] to keep a long distance away from the crime of outraging free men, and so he added the prohibition against the outraging even of slaves.” “ It was not for the slaves that the lawgiver was concerned, but he wished to accustom you [the citizens] to keep a long distance away from the crime of outraging free men, and so he added the prohibition against the outraging even of slaves.”

7 Athenian slaves and the courts Slave had no independent status in law Slave had no independent status in law Could not represent himself in court of law; Could not represent himself in court of law; was represented by his owner in court of law was represented by his owner in court of law Slave was not allowed to give evidence against a citizen Slave was not allowed to give evidence against a citizen Exceptions: treason; sacrilege Exceptions: treason; sacrilege If slave was correct he/she received citizenship, if wrong was executed If slave was correct he/she received citizenship, if wrong was executed Cases where slave’s evidence was equal to that of free/citizen: if master was murdered; in certain commercial lawsuits (with citizens as guarantors) Cases where slave’s evidence was equal to that of free/citizen: if master was murdered; in certain commercial lawsuits (with citizens as guarantors)

8 Slave evidence in general Slave’s evidence as witness was only admissible if obtained under torture Slave’s evidence as witness was only admissible if obtained under torture Either by master in private or on request of plaintiff (defendant could not refuse) Either by master in private or on request of plaintiff (defendant could not refuse) Contract drawn, outlining method of torture and included provision for compensation Contract drawn, outlining method of torture and included provision for compensation

9 Aristophanes, Frogs II.618 “Pile bricks upon him; stuff his nose with acid; flay, rack him, hoist him, flog him with a scourge of prickly bristles…Torture him in any mode you please.” “Pile bricks upon him; stuff his nose with acid; flay, rack him, hoist him, flog him with a scourge of prickly bristles…Torture him in any mode you please.”

10 Plato; Laws 9.872b: “The public executioner of the State shall drag him in the direction of the tomb of the dead man, to a spot from which he can see the tomb and there scourge him with as many stripes as the prosecutor shall prescribe; and if the murderer be still alive after the beating he shall put him to death.” “The public executioner of the State shall drag him in the direction of the tomb of the dead man, to a spot from which he can see the tomb and there scourge him with as many stripes as the prosecutor shall prescribe; and if the murderer be still alive after the beating he shall put him to death.”

11 Sourcebook # 181 Sourcebook # 181

12 Enslavement No Athenian Citizen could be enslaved No Athenian Citizen could be enslaved With few exceptions: With few exceptions: 1. Daughters who committed adultery (rare); 2. Newborns, abandoned on ‘rubbish heap’ 3. failure to pay ransom to party who ransomed someone captured by enemy/bandits/pirates 1. Daughters who committed adultery (rare); 2. Newborns, abandoned on ‘rubbish heap’ 3. failure to pay ransom to party who ransomed someone captured by enemy/bandits/pirates Exile returning illegally to Athens Exile returning illegally to Athens

13 Demosthenes (against Nicostratos, 11) “ the laws enact that a person ransomed from the enemy shall be the property of the ransomer if he fails to pay the redemption money.” “ the laws enact that a person ransomed from the enemy shall be the property of the ransomer if he fails to pay the redemption money.”

14 Ransom rule outside Athens If someone, acting under an obligation, obtains from a foreign city, at his request, the liberation of a man who is beyond the frontier, the latter will be in the power of the one who bought him back until the money owed has been paid back. If someone, acting under an obligation, obtains from a foreign city, at his request, the liberation of a man who is beyond the frontier, the latter will be in the power of the one who bought him back until the money owed has been paid back. ( Gortin Lawcode; Inscriptiones Creticae IV 72 col VI. Ll ) ( Gortin Lawcode; Inscriptiones Creticae IV 72 col VI. Ll )

15 War and slavery Heraclitus end of 6 th century Heraclitus end of 6 th century “War (polemos) is the father of all, the king of all, and he has marked out some for gods, others for men; he has made some slaves and others free” (Fr. 53 Diels “War (polemos) is the father of all, the king of all, and he has marked out some for gods, others for men; he has made some slaves and others free” (Fr. 53 Diels

16 Changes after Persian War In 5 th century see growing number of agreements stating that Greek cities should not be reduced to slavery, but only be given a lesson (Plutarch, Aegisilaeus 6) In 5 th century see growing number of agreements stating that Greek cities should not be reduced to slavery, but only be given a lesson (Plutarch, Aegisilaeus 6) Greek war captives had good chance to obtain their freedom again Greek war captives had good chance to obtain their freedom again A) by agreement between states A) by agreement between states B) could be bought back by relatives, friends (purchase money often extended as a loan to the person so bought back) B) could be bought back by relatives, friends (purchase money often extended as a loan to the person so bought back)

17 479 B.C. 500 Athenians taken prisoner by Xerxes were sent back by Samos (Herodotus 9.9) 479 B.C. 500 Athenians taken prisoner by Xerxes were sent back by Samos (Herodotus 9.9)

18 Agreement between Miletus and Crete (Cnossos) Agreement between Miletus and Crete (Cnossos) 3 rd century B.C. Do not let the Cnossian acquire the Milesian, nor the Milesian the Cnossian, if he know him to be free. He who buys him knowingly let him lose the price and let the person be free; if he buys him unknowingly, let him give the person back and recover the whole of the purchase price. ( H.H.Schmitt, ed., Die Staatsvertraege des Altertums, III (Munich 1969) no. 482, ) 3 rd century B.C. Do not let the Cnossian acquire the Milesian, nor the Milesian the Cnossian, if he know him to be free. He who buys him knowingly let him lose the price and let the person be free; if he buys him unknowingly, let him give the person back and recover the whole of the purchase price. ( H.H.Schmitt, ed., Die Staatsvertraege des Altertums, III (Munich 1969) no. 482, )

19 Greek ideal of ‘freedom’ Spartan embassy to Persian satrap Hydarnes: “you know well how to be a slave, but you have never tasted of freedom” (Herodotus 7.135) Spartan embassy to Persian satrap Hydarnes: “you know well how to be a slave, but you have never tasted of freedom” (Herodotus 7.135)

20 Hierarchy of Penalties No enslavement for Athenian Citizens: Penalties: fines, imprisonment, atimia (political disqualifications) exile, death No enslavement for Athenian Citizens: Penalties: fines, imprisonment, atimia (political disqualifications) exile, death nothoi (bastards); metics, foreigners – could all be enslaved on the spot: for usurping citizen rights, marrying a citizen, not paying metic tax, refusing to choose a citizen guarantor, if freedman shows ingratitude towards former master nothoi (bastards); metics, foreigners – could all be enslaved on the spot: for usurping citizen rights, marrying a citizen, not paying metic tax, refusing to choose a citizen guarantor, if freedman shows ingratitude towards former master

21 Manumission – freeing a slave Difference in practice of manumission: Romans were generous in manumitting (free ) slaves and confer Roman citizenship (or Latin status) on freedmen and freedwomen; Difference in practice of manumission: Romans were generous in manumitting (free ) slaves and confer Roman citizenship (or Latin status) on freedmen and freedwomen; Slaves paid price for ‘purchase’ of freedom – roughly market value Slaves paid price for ‘purchase’ of freedom – roughly market value Slaves manumitted at Athens became ‘metics’ = resident aliens; ; obligated to bury him; make him his heir if he had no legitimate children; Slaves manumitted at Athens became ‘metics’ = resident aliens; ; obligated to bury him; make him his heir if he had no legitimate children; Owed services (paramone); obligation to stay with former owner or heir for fixed period – increasingly common until former owner’s death; freedman could free himself from services by providing a slave to replace him (pay price higher than what was required to pay anyway for his freedom) Owed services (paramone); obligation to stay with former owner or heir for fixed period – increasingly common until former owner’s death; freedman could free himself from services by providing a slave to replace him (pay price higher than what was required to pay anyway for his freedom) extremely rare that an ex-slave received citizenship extremely rare that an ex-slave received citizenship One famous exception: the banker Pasion; wealthy ex-slave who received Athenian citizenship One famous exception: the banker Pasion; wealthy ex-slave who received Athenian citizenship

22 Primary Sources Manumission and paramone # 23, 24 Manumission and paramone # 23, 24 citizenship and slavery # 22, Demosthenes 59 Against Neaira. A legal speech citizenship and slavery # 22, Demosthenes 59 Against Neaira. A legal speech

23 Effects of Slavery on Athenian Society Social Role of Slaves

24 Prevalence of Slaves Slaves were everywhere; Slaves were everywhere; On average 3 – 4 slaves in household; whoever could afford one would have at least one slave. On average 3 – 4 slaves in household; whoever could afford one would have at least one slave. Agriculture (workers, overseers, etc.) Agriculture (workers, overseers, etc.) Business (scribes, accountants, managers, agents, bankers) Business (scribes, accountants, managers, agents, bankers) Amusement (theatre, gambling, hetairae, prostitution) Amusement (theatre, gambling, hetairae, prostitution) slaves owned by city state – administration; maintenance of all public works, etc. slaves owned by city state – administration; maintenance of all public works, etc.

25 What did slaves know about their masters In households: No privacy In households: No privacy Athenian houses of ordinary people were small: (Lysias 1 on the murder of Eratosthenes) : two rooms, one upstairs for women, 1 downstairs for the men. Athenian houses of ordinary people were small: (Lysias 1 on the murder of Eratosthenes) : two rooms, one upstairs for women, 1 downstairs for the men. Wife’s household slave is witness to her affair with Eratosthenes Wife’s household slave is witness to her affair with Eratosthenes Greek Tragedy: the nurse is closest confidant of female characters. Greek Tragedy: the nurse is closest confidant of female characters. Slaves represent a form of social control; witness to everything that goes on; Slaves represent a form of social control; witness to everything that goes on; i.e. slave’s evidence in serious crimes – treason, sacrilege which endanger community was encouraged i.e. slave’s evidence in serious crimes – treason, sacrilege which endanger community was encouraged


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