Who Were Slaves in Ancient Greece and Rome?

Slavery was a common practice in ancient Greece and Rome. It was an institution that was deeply ingrained in the social and economic structures of these societies.

Slaves were considered property and were used for various purposes such as labor, entertainment, and even as personal companions. In this article, we will explore who were slaves in ancient Greece and Rome.

Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, slaves were known as “doulos” or “oiketes”. They were individuals who had been captured in wars or were purchased from slave markets.

Slaves in ancient Greece came from various regions such as Thrace, Scythia, and Libya. They had no legal rights and were considered the property of their owners.

Types of Greek Slaves

There were different types of slaves in ancient Greece. The most common type was the household slave or “oiketes”.

They worked within the household doing tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for children. Some oiketes were also trained as artisans or skilled workers.

Another type of slave was the mine worker or “lavreotis”. These individuals worked in mines extracting gold, silver, and other precious metals. They worked under harsh conditions with little to no protection.

There were also agricultural slaves or “hektemoroi”. These individuals worked on farms owned by wealthy landowners. They worked long hours in the fields planting crops and tending to livestock.

Ancient Rome

Slavery was also prevalent in ancient Rome. Slaves made up a significant portion of the population with estimates ranging from 10-30% of the total population. Slaves in ancient Rome came from various regions such as Gaul (modern-day France), Britain, and Africa.

Types of Roman Slaves

There were different types of slaves in ancient Rome based on their skills and abilities. The most common type was the household slave or “familia”. Some familia were also trained as artisans or skilled workers.

Another type of slave was the agricultural slave or “colonus”.

There were also skilled slaves or “artifex”. These individuals were trained in various trades such as blacksmithing, carpentry, and masonry. They were highly valued by their owners for their skills.

Conclusion

In conclusion, slavery was a common practice in ancient Greece and Rome. Slaves came from various regions and were used for different purposes such as labor, entertainment, and companionship. While slavery is now considered a barbaric practice, it was an important part of these ancient societies and played a significant role in shaping their social and economic structures.