Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Slavery in Greek and Early christian Thought
Ancient Greeks and Romans depended on slavery as a principle of social and economic organization. Theoretical discussions of slavery are found in works on politics, ethics, agriculture, law, and religion. Within a broader range of archaeological, historical, and literary source material, analyses of ancient slavery must be temporally and geographically specific—fourth-century Athens differs greatly from first-century Rome, for instance. Yet in the theoretical realm, the following observations may be useful to distinguish slavery in the classical world from other slave systems: the structures of classical slavery are rooted in and bound up with other social structures; a binary distinction between free and unfree cannot be applied to the complex hierarchies of status in the ancient world; the relationship between master and slave is negotiated in moral and personal terms just as much as (if not more than) it is in legal and economic ones. Few primary sources are devoted exclusively ...