The Laboring Poor
The Bible recommended the care of the poor; Solon enacted legislation in favor of the oppressed debtors; the Roman senate provided bread and circuses for the urban proletariat. The records of the past, however, do not deal in great detail with the life and the activities of the vast masses of the laboring poor. The wisdom of Solomon, the oratory of Pericles, the conquests of Caesar were considered more worthy of description than the struggles of the common people. The rulers of the state despised the populace, and, except in times of crisis when man power became important, ignored it completely. During normal periods the commonalty had to labor hard, pay high taxes, and behave itself. Art, politics, and learning were the vested interests of the rich and the powerful.