Thesis Title: The Diversity of Slaving Strategies in Classical Athens, and their Impact on the Lives of Athenian Slaves
My thesis will examine the life experiences of slaves in 5th and 4th century BC Athens, by examining the diversity of “slaving strategies” which resulted in the capture and sale in Athens of thousands of enslaved individuals during this period.
The term “slaving strategies”, and its use in the historical analysis of slavery, was conceived of by historian Joseph Miller to describe the various goals which individuals acquired slaves in order to accomplish. His aim, in doing so, was to create a more accurate picture of historical slavery: one that portrays it as arising from different actions carried out by different human motivations, rather than as institutions with largely uniform aims and consequences. I plan to reapply his ideas to ancient Athens, in order to differentiate between the varied exploitative relationships which made up ancient Athenian slavery.
Athenian strategies of slaving came to be incredibly diverse, with slaves being used both to provide the labour for large mining operations, to give an example on one extreme, and to manage profitable businesses, to give an example on the other. I hope that an analysis of these and other strategies observable in ancient Athens will help us better understand the many (and often commented on) differences between the experiences of slavery during this time, and to better understand the ways that slaves reacted to the different circumstances of their slavery.