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Slavery In Ancient Greece And Rome

1601 words - 6 pages

Slavery was the practice of taking a human being and making them do the work of another by force. This was practiced through out the ancient world and especially in Rome and Greece. Slaves were nothing more than just property to the ancient peoples. They didn't have the rights of citizens nor were they able to do what they want in most cases. Slaves had many tasks that they had to do, many of which included taking care of the masters house and kids, cooking and cleaning that house, herding the cattle for the farming families, being guards for some prisons, fighting for entertainment of the masses, and more common was sexual activities with the slaves.

The most common use of a slave was to have the around the house to do common tasks such as cleaning the house, washing the clothing, cooking, and taking care of the infants with supervision from the mother. Although these were the major uses of a slave there were a few that also educated and were allowed to teach others what they have learned. Plutarch told a story of a man named Cato that had born a son, but he did not wish that his son to be taught by a lowly servant. He wanted his son to have a good education and to not have to owe respect to a slave. Cato wrote many books for his son so that he may never leave the house and encounter false teachings from others. He also taught his son everything that he needed to know about grammar and law. He not only showed his son about the exercise of the mind, he also showed him the exercise of the body also. Cato showed his son how to box, how to stay in shape and get ready for war. Cato wanted none of these things were to be learned from a slave, and none of them were. Slaves were teachers and house hold workers but also since they could not disobey their owners, they were used for sexual pleasure also. Euripides in "The Women of Troy" portrays the women as courageous even though they are about to go into slavery and more likely to be sexual partners to Greeks. The owners could do with the slaves what they wished, be it sexual favors or they could beat them at will. Beating a slave though was not usually the best thing that an owner of slaves could do because they didn't want to damage their property. To get a slave to work hard wasn't that difficult most of the time, all the owner had to do was refrain from beating and instead be nice to them. In Rome some slaves were offered freedom if they met certain criteria of the owner. After earning their freedom they were given citizenship in the city. This gave the slaves a reason to work hard, something to look forward to.

Although slaves worked mainly inside of the house there were owners who used them for other reasons also.

"Slaves are living tools" this is Aristotle defining what slaves are, and this is what they were used as by everyone, inside the house and out of it. Almost everyone in the ancient world had a slave or two, the only exception was with the poorest families. There was even...

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