27 Pages

The Slaves

WithVictor Ehrenberg

For some time past it has been acknowledged that slavery was not such an important element in Greek economic life as was formerly believed. There were many free workmen who frequently had to work much harder than many a slave. Nevertheless, social life both in town and country was inconceivable without slaves, and the idea of an age without them was merely one of the favourite fairy-tale motives of comedy. Women might be pictured in a primitive early age as forced to grind their own corn, or a man as making the furniture and the crockery on the dinner table move and work by themselves. 1 A misanthropic hermit, of course, like Timon, had neither wife nor slaves. 2 The thought of a life without slaves was so preposterous that even the ideal communist society had to include them, at any rate as agricultural workers. 3 The gods themselves had servants who were slaves: Polemos, for instance, was accompanied by Kydoimos; War was the master, Uproar his slave. 4