What Kind of Slaves Did Ancient Greece Have?

What Kind of Slaves Did Ancient Greece Have?

In ancient Greece, slavery was a common practice that played a significant role in the economy and daily life of the city-states. Slaves were considered property and were owned by individuals or the state.

They performed various tasks ranging from household chores to agricultural work. Let’s explore the different types of slaves that existed in ancient Greece.

Domestic Slaves

One of the most common types of slaves in ancient Greece was domestic slaves. These slaves worked within households, performing tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and taking care of children. They were an essential part of running a household smoothly and were often considered as trusted members of the family.


A specific type of domestic slave was known as pedagogues. These slaves were responsible for the education and upbringing of young children. They would accompany children to school, teach them basic skills, and even discipline them when necessary.

Agricultural Slaves

Agriculture was a crucial part of ancient Greek society, and as such, there was a high demand for agricultural laborers. Agricultural slaves worked on large estates or farms, cultivating crops and tending to livestock. Their hard work contributed significantly to the agricultural production that sustained Greek cities.

Mine Workers

In some regions, especially in Athens’ silver mines, there were specialized slaves known as mine workers. These slaves endured harsh conditions underground and faced dangerous situations daily. They extracted valuable minerals that played a vital role in trade and economy.

Artisan Slaves

Ancient Greece was known for its skilled craftsmen who produced exquisite art pieces and other goods. Many artisans relied on slave labor to assist them in their work.

These slaves learned various trades such as pottery, metalworking, and weaving. They contributed to the flourishing art and craft industry of ancient Greece.

Public Slaves

The state also owned a significant number of slaves who worked in various public capacities. These slaves performed tasks such as construction, maintenance of public buildings, and even participated in military campaigns. They were essential to the functioning and development of Greek city-states.


Ancient Greece had a diverse range of slaves who played crucial roles in different aspects of society. From domestic tasks to agricultural labor and skilled craftsmanship, these slaves were an integral part of the economy and daily life. Understanding the types of slaves that existed in ancient Greece helps us comprehend the complexity of this society and its reliance on forced labor.