Greek Slavery

Rachel Zelnick-Abramovitz

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online June 2012 | | DOI:
Greek Slavery

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The earliest Greek texts known to us already attest to the existence of unfree labor. Despite being widespread and considered essential for the well-being of the dominant elite, even in Antiquity slavery in its various forms sparked debates, and writers speculated about its origins, nature, and justification. The theme gained new impetus in modern times with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and later with the abolitionist movements. But even after slavery was formally abolished, the subject never ceased to engage the minds of historians, sociologists, archaeologists, and philosophers. Writing about slavery has always been affected by contemporary ideologies and their underlying values, as well as by historiographical trends. Thus, in the 20th century, one of the central issues of debate was the question whether, as Marxists believed, slaves comprised an economic class, or, as Neo-Marxists and others have argued, slavery should rather be seen as a social status. In modern times, studies tended initially to be historical and general, but from the mid-20th century monographs on various aspects of slavery have been written by scholars from various disciplines. This bibliography cannot cover all the thousands of publications on slavery or all the trends and approaches, but must be selective. It focuses on the main issues raised by the subject and is meant to provide tools to navigate through the vast scholarship in this area, but also to point to controversies. Some old publications are also cited because they echo the ideologies and concerns of their time. Here, “Greek slavery” means slavery in all areas of Greek settlement and culture, including Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.

Article.  23472 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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