Slavery in Sparta vs. Slavery in Athens

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Slavery has been a major component of human civilization all throughout history. People turn to slavery for many reasons, such as fear of different ethnicities and fear that these new foreign people will take over land that is not theirs. The conditions under which slaves work and live varies greatly by the time and location of which the slaves lived. Slaves play a major role in their society and contribute greatly to their communities, often forming one of the largest masses of the population. Though the accuracy of the information from primary sources may be tainted with exaggeration and bias, it is easy to deduce from primary works the treatment of slaves and the working and living conditions surrounding them. According to many sources, slavery conditions in Ancient Athenian society were far better than those in Sparta. The definition of the word slavery encompasses a vast array of connotations, meanings, and values; in order understand slavery conditions in Athens and Sparta, it is important to decipher exactly what the word both means and implies. For all intents and purposes, in this essay the word slavery will refer to the non-citizen people of both Athens and Sparta who are enslaved by either the state or an individual person, depending on the state they live in. Slaves are the lowest class of citizens in each of the two states, and are often used for hard labour and general housekeeping, depending on the city in which they live. Forming the largest number of people in the community, slaves play a vital role in the economy of their state. Athenian government is democratic, and its citizens play a major role in shaping the government. Athenian ‘citizens’ are comprised only of adult males; women, children, metics, and slave... ... middle of paper ... ...r portrait of both Spartan and Athenian slavery customs. In contrast to citizens, Athenian slaves do not lead particularly different lives; they do the same jobs, sleep in the same place, and eat the same foods. It is because of this degree of equality that Athenian slaves- in most cases- are better off than Spartan slaves. Works Cited Demosthenes. The Orations of Demosthenes. Ed. Kennedy, Charles Rann. Trans. Kennedy, Charles Rann. London: 1877. Web. Hesiod. Works and Days. Trans. Wender, Dorothea. London: Penguin, 1973. Print Plutarch. Life of Lycurgus. Trans. Dryden, John. The Internet Classics Archive. 1 December 2013 Westermann, William. The Slave Systems of Greek and Roman Antiquity. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1955. Web. 12 November, 2013. Xenophon. Constitution of the Athenians. Marr, J. L., Rhodes, P. J. New York: Oxford, 2008. Print.

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