Becoming A Slave
There were many different ways to become a slave in Ancient Greece.
Some slaves were taken prisoner if their city was attacked. For example, when the Roman Empire attacked, many slaves were taken prisoner. If they were not taken prisoner, they were most likely killed.
Some infants were abandoned by their slave parents. They were left to die or to be taken into a family by somebody who passed by. The parents did this because they were not able to take care of the baby. If they did keep the baby, the masterís wife would raise it.
The most common way to become a slave was to be born into slavery. For example if you were born as a slave, then your mom and dad would not take care of you the masterís wife would.
If a free family needed money they might have to sell one of their children into slavery. Usually the female slaves were sold more often because the male slaves worked better in the fields. When their parents grew old they needed their sons to work in the fields to raise money for them. If the family needed a lot of money, they might sell the father or one of the older sons, which were worth more money.
Prices of Slaves
Different slaves were worth different prices. The Ancient Greek money was called drachma. In the United States one drachma would be worth $0.0205. So if you would want to buy a slave you would either steal the slave or find a way to get more money. This was one of the ways people in Ancient Greece bought a slave that they wanted.
Image of Greek coins at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/6193/feac2.html, Doug Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org, February 2001. Email message.
For example if the young slave and in good health they could be worth up to 100 drachmas. But the people who were old and weak could be sold for as little as Ĺ a drachma. The most expensive slave was a doctor who could be sold up to as much as 1,000 drachmas.
If you ever had to clean your house, you probably think that you had a ton of jobs. Well if you think that was hard then you would not survive in the Ancient World. If you were a slave in Ancient Greece, you would have about 250 jobs in one day. If you donít do your job you would be whipped. The main jobs that slaves were assigned were working in the house, the fields, ship rowers, and police.
Believe it or not, one of the jobs that slaves had was being a policeman. Only men could be police. Most of the police in Ancient Greece were slaves that were freed by their masters to become police. Their master had to let them have their freedom.
In the house, slaves were sometimes called a part of the family. A house slave may even take part in some of the family activities, like sacrifices. Most household slaves were women because men were needed more in the fields. The household slave had many jobs to do, like cleaning the house, keeping the fire going, and more. Usually the masterís wife would follow the slave around and keep giving her jobs to make sure that the slave does not stop doing the job that she was assigned.
There are also some deadly jobs that slaves had to do. Being a war ship rower is a deadly job because if the boat sinks then the slaves cannot get out and will drown. There are about 50-60 slaves on one boat. Some of the slaves die of hunger because they could go days or even weeks without food or clean water. The other way that the war ship is dangerous is that there are about 2-3 Greek people down under the ship with the slaves and if they see a slave not rowing then they will whip them. Some slaves get whipped so many times that they would die from blood loss.
Another way for a slave to die is to be working in the fields. If a slave worked in the fields and destroyed the masterís crops then they would be whipped or maybe sold to someone who kills slaves for money.
Population of Slaves
You might think that there would be more Greek people than slaves in Ancient Greece. There were as many or more slaves than Greek people. Each house would have about 10-20 slaves and about 3-4 would work in the house with the masterís wife. The others would work in the fields day and night.
After all this the slaves would at least need some rights. Most of the slaves did not have even one right. They could not even go to the bathroom without their masterís permission. They could not use their own names but were assigned names by their master. This is how most of the slaves lived their lives.
How The Slaves Escaped From Slavery
There were three basic ways a slave could get free. The first way is if the government let them go from their masters. If the master would not let the slaves go then the government would have to call the military in to help free the slave(s). The second way a slave could become free was by his individual master. Another way for a slave to get their freedom is to buy their way out of slavery. In Ancient Greece, there were some clubs called Eranoi. These clubs lend money to slaves to buy their way out of slavery, but if the slave cannot pay back the loan that they took, then they would have to give all the things that they bought back and they would be sold back into slavery again.
How Slaves Were Treated
Many slaves were treated depending on their age, looks, strength, and attitude. Think of something that you own. Now think of owning someone and whipping him/her over and over. This is how some of the slaves were treated back in Ancient Greece. They were thought of as property and not as humans. Most slaves lived to the age of 54 because of the whipping and how they were treated. If they were treated well then they could live to the age of 65. If a slave misbehaved, he/she could be punished. There were three ways that a slave could be punished.
It is important to remember that these people were thought of as property of their masters rather than citizens of Greece.