CS 1000 - Week 10
Lecture 1 Monday, November 11, 2013
• Slavery was a prominent part of Greek (esp.Athenian) society but it is largely
invisible in the evidence that they have left.
• Slaves made up a large portion of the population inAthens
• Two Generalizations:
o (1) At all times and in all places the ancient Greek world relied on some
form (or forms) of dependent labor to meet its needs.
Work performed under compulsions other than those of kinship or
o (2) There were always free men engaged in productive labor
Free men working on their own making a living by working.
• Aslave is a person who is in the eyes of the law and of public opinion a
possession of another person. One person can own another and this person is their
• Slavery in the ancient world was a basic fact.
o Slide: Pseudo-Aristotle quote. He is talking about household
management. He says that the most necessary and best kind of property is
man. To set up a household, one must procure slaves.
o Polybius: cattle and slaves are the necessities of life.
• Greek life and thought were bound up with the ideology and practice of human
servitude this concept of owning and using other beings is such a ‘given’that the
language becomes a metaphor that is often used.
• Eventually the notion emerged that it was wrong for Greeks to enslave other
Greeks but it was never said that it is wrong to enslave non-Greeks.
o This notion emerges as the Greek world comes into contact more with
o There is a debate among the philosophers (ex. Aristotle says that non-
Greeks are ‘natural’slaves and it is in their nature to serve).
• The language of slavery is very prevalent in the language of Christianity.
• ‘Slavery’is a flexible term.
• The ideal slave:
o (1) The slave is socially dead chattel (i.e. it is simply a possession with no
o (2) The slave is ripped forcibly from organic ties of kin and community
and transported to an alien environment (the most common source of slave
in the ancient world were those collected in war).
o (3) The slave is treated as merely a piece of property (or as a factor of
o (4) The slave can be used and abused at will (i.e. it has no social rights and
there are no social repercussions)
o (5) Aslave is an inanimate beast of burden with no sense of self other than
that allowed by the slave-owner (the conditions of slaves were admitted at
a great degree of variation depending on the household).
o (6) Aslave has no legal or civic personality whatsoever.
The Vocabulary of Slavery
• Dmos: archaic term; found in Homer, but not later. The root clearly comes from
dam (an Indo-European root) which is the root of our ‘dominate’and
‘domination’. This word suggests someone who has been dominated and subdued
(whether in battle or as a slave).
• Doulos (douleia – ‘servitude’) this is the most common word down to later
• Andrapoda (literally means ‘man footed’): clearly a term modeled after tetrapoda
(‘four footed’) which is the way you refer to an ox or sheep (this word assimilates
slaves to animals).
• Oiketes: common word for a household slave (notice the root is oikos ‘house’).
This word connects the slave to the household and therefore the property of the
• Societies with large numbers of slaves (or societies based on slave-owning) have
o Athens: stands out in the Greek world (even though the Spartans enslaved
the helots, they were not as dependent on them at the level of the
o Central Roman Italy (at various periods)
o American Old South
• The legal status of slaves was consistent and it was a fixed concept. There are,
however, different types of slaves who experienced different ways of life.
• Types of Slaves:
o (1) TheAthenians recognized a class of slaves owned by the democracy
(demosioi). They were a few hundred in number and served as a token
police force and kept order inAthens. They also served as minor
functionaries in public places in the agora and courts. 3
o (2) Privately owned slaves ‘who lived apart’(choris oikountes): slaves
who had independence from their master and usually lived in craft
workshops and ran them with start-up capital from their owners.
In some cases they could acquire their own property or freedom.
They could also be hired out by their masters for specific tasks.
o (3) The most common class of slaves are oiketai (household slaves). They
were both male and female. The males might work in the fields.
o (4) There were also purely agricultural slaves (especially in elite families).
o (5) Mine Slaves: state-owned silver mines of Laurium (southeast of
Athens). Everything we know about them suggests that they worked in
• Many cities emulated Athens’slavery but other cities didn’t have such a great
dependence on slaves.
• Warfare ensured a steady supply of slaves.
• There were also a large number of non-Greek slaves as well.
• Not all slaves were chattel-slaves: there are some who are enslaved but did not
have the status described above. The most common were people who were
enslaved for debt (debt-bondage):
o Temporary in principle, but not always in practice.
o Could become hereditary (i.e. passed on to children)
o Led to political unrest: ca. 6000 BCE Solon responded by outlawing debt-
bondage altogether (seisachtheia, lit ‘the shaking off of burden)
o Elsewhere the practice continued and in many communities this was the
principle form of slavery.
• There were also communally enslaved populations (ex. Helots of Sparta)
o They enjoyed some privileges that other slaves did not (ex.Afamily life)
o They could be killed at any time with their masters with impunity
o The helots were enslaved as a community but this is just one of a number
of examples in ancient Greece.
o It is somewhat uncommon because it takes a lot to keep a whole
• There is much debate whether Greek civilization as a whole was ‘based’on
slavery, but its centrality to the Greek imagination is certain.
o This is a factor that is assumed as a way of looking at the world.
• Slide: Picture of a scene from a symposium (a drinking party). Here there is an
aristocraticAthenian male with a walking stick (as an accessory). He is embracing
a flute girl.
• Greek men were sexually interested in both males and females.
• Two significant components of Human sexuality: 4
o (1) There is a set of basic biological processes: there are those who argue
that this is a purely biological business and only acts that lead to
procreation is acceptable while everything else is a perversion.
o (2) Human sexuality is also a bundle of social constructions. Ideas focused
on sexual behavior, roles, and attractiveness.
o There must be a balance of biological processes and also social
constructions. Even though the biological process remains constant, the
social construction can shift from culture to culture and time to time. The
Greeks’construction of sexuality is quite different from us.
• Useful works: *** Dover, Greek Homosexuality; Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus:
Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens; Kilmer, Greek Erotica; Richlin, Pornography
and Representation in Greek and Rome.
o Scholarship has shifted on this topic since the sexual revolution of the
1960s. Terms used to be glossed over and translators would misrepresent
ancient works (ex. Plato’s Symposium is a dialogue about homosexual love
and many translators used to change words to make it heterosexual love).
• Biology vs. social construction
• Cultural relativism: this is when we judge from our own cultural perspective. We
have a zero tolerance attitude for some things that are basicAthenian practices.
• Sexuality as a reflection of ideas about social roles (encoded in talk about sex are
ideas about social roles since there is a great difference between men and
• Sexuality as an expression of power and hierarchy (men subdue women, the
above word dmos is used in the language of love which suggests a hierarchy).
Erotic Fantasy: Erotic Imagery in Greek Society
• Sexuality is a more prominent element in ancient society than in modern.
• Slide: Classical ‘Herm’- Hermes; these were put on the doorsteps of homes (for
us this is unthinkable but in the 5 century this stood at every house and street
o In ancient art, women are covered while men are usually naked.
• Slide: Erotic imagery that we would be comfortable with.
• Slide: Roman sarcophagus-Afemale faun having sex with a Silenus figure; this is
interesting because this is on someone’s coffin (we would never do this).
• Slide: Maenad and Satyr- Sexualization of the maenad experience; satyrs are
semi-human figures and they are embodiments of the human animal.
• Slide: image of the symposium transposed into the world of myth with satyrs.
Here we see an expression of sexuality that is foreign to us. 5
• Slide: Image of bestiality – this is a satyr expressing sexuality in a direct way
• Slide:Awoman on a phallus-bird and woman in a phallic garden - showing
preoccupation with the phallus
Lecture 2 November 13, 2013
• Dover, in Greek Homosexuality, began looking at representations of sexual love in
art and reading about it in literature. This led him to argue that at the heart of
ancient representations of sexuality is a power hierarchy with dominant (male)
and subordinate (female) positions
o If this distinction becomes blurred, this becomes problematic.
• There is a standard way of representing heterosexual sex in Greek art but these
representations are projection of ideas about sex and social roles and not
‘photographs’from the Greek bedroom
o Male as dominant
o Female is subordinated to him
• It is also important to note who is being portrayed on these vases most are
clearly prostitutes (pornai which are low class prostitutes, hetairai are higher
class, and auletridesi are women who played the aulos atthe symposium and
played sexual roles).
o It is important to remember that these are not wives
• Slide: Red figure vase depicting heterosexual intercourse: Dover’s theory is
shown here since the male as the dominant position; the setting here seems to be
in the symposium and the vessel itself probably would have been used at a
• Slide: The walking stick shows that this is an elite Classical male at a symposium
• Slide: Married couple- the kind of depiction of human sexuality is changed once
there is a portrayal of a husband and a wife. They face each other and their eyes
are locked. This does not mean that married couples were equal but that in
respectable relationships they are acknowledging each other as peers in some
o Slide:Achilles and Penthesilea by Exekias- hereAchilles (black figure) is
about to strike a death blow to theAmazon queen (Penthesilea). The story
tells us that at the momentAchilles was about to kill her, he gazed into her
eyes and fell in love. This suggests a different kind of relationship (such as
the depiction of the married couple). The sexualization of death is not
• Slide: The Anakalypteria (‘Unveiling’)- this is a scene depicting the marriage of
Zeus and Hera and the moment in the ceremony where the woman unveils herself.
• Slide: 5 cent BC relief depicting Hermes- Orpheus goes to the Underworld to get
his wife back, this shows the two looking at each other. 6
• These are portrayals of marriage that are starkly contrasted with depictions of
low class women at symposia
• Sources: Dover, Greek Homosexuality; Bremmer, An Enigmatic Into-European
Rite: Paederasty (here Bremmer partly challenges Dover’s view), Halperin, One
Hundred Years of Homosexuality (argues that the word ‘homosexuality’is only
100 years old and modern ideas of sex and sexuality were codified by the
Vicorians in the 19 century and before this people viewed sexuality in a different
way), Patzer, Die griecheische Knabenliebe (“Greek Boy Love”), Davidson, The
Greeks and Greek Love (shows that sexuality is broader and more pervasive than
particular acts but the character of certain relationships