Essay on The Peasants of Classical Greece

Essay on The Peasants of Classical Greece

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It is important to define what a peasant is in the sense of the peasant farmers of Classical Greece. Peasant is often used as an unflattering term, in which the person is somehow weaker, and less efficient. However, most of Classical Greece was among the peasantry. Peasantry denoted the rights they had, which set them above slaves, and far beneath the upper echelons of society (Croix, 1981: 110). In the terms of Greek society, the peasantry consisted of agricultural labourers (Croix, 1981: 110). They mainly worked as family units, and the sons inherited the plots of land upon their father’s death. With the exception of Sparta, women were not allowed to own land, and their primary purpose in life was to work on her family’s farm, and then enter a good marriage that would benefit the family. Greek peasants held little additional wealth besides their land and produce, so it was often gifts of land they gave as a dowry to the husband (Croix, 1981: 120).
Advancement as a peasant was a possibility. If a crop was doing well, the farmer could choose to acquire knew land and plant a different crop (Zenker, 2009). If they had a profitable year, they could also acquire more wealth do this or even advance to higher society. Geographical conditions made it possible to have a good or bad year. If a peasant’s competing neighbors suffered from bad weather, the supply of staple foods was almost entirely local, giving a fortunate farmer an immediate advantage in terms of urban demand (Croix, 1981: 125). Even if demand based on sustenance was low, the crops were valuable commodities for overseas trade.
The work of a farmer differed depending on the landscape. As well situated land was claimed, other farmers may be forced to less desirable land. L...

... middle of paper ... many different ways. The Greek goddess Demeter was the goddess of Agriculture (meter meaning mother, and de possibly meaning corn.) Though animal husbandry was scarcer than crops, both were used in religious ceremonies and festivals (Zenker, 2009).
Greek farmers owned plots of land, and landlords mainly selected the farms that answered to them by the farmers’ proximity. It was difficult to be spaced too far apart, which increased transportation costs. Farmers would sometimes take their wares to the city, but it was often the landlord who not only arrived at the city with crops, but set the prices and wages of the farmers. Landlords often made a point of storing the large quantities of agricultural produce, rather than selling it all at once. Because demand was highly seasonal, they could sell it for far greater profit at later times in the year (Zenker, 2009).

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