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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IX. CLASSICAL CIVILIZATION
» Contents of this ChapterPage 16
PLACE OF SLAVERY IN CLASSICAL LIFE
The private life of the Greeks and Romans, as described in the preceding pages, would have been impossible without the existence of a large servile class. Slaves did much of the heavy and disagreeable work in the ancient world, thus allowing the free citizen to engage in more honorable employment or to pass his days in dignified leisure.
SOURCES OF SLAVES
The Greeks seem sometimes to have thought that only barbarians should be degraded to the condition of servitude. Most Greek slaves, as a matter of fact, were purchased from foreign countries. But after the Romans had subdued the Mediterranean world, their captives included not only members of inferior races, but also the cultivated inhabitants of Greece, Egypt, and Asia Minor. We hear of slaves at Rome who served as clerks, secretaries, librarians, actors, and musicians. Their education was often superior to that of the coarse and brutal masters who owned them.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy