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Status in Classical Athens$
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Deborah Kamen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691138138

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691138138.001.0001

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Chattel Slaves

Chattel Slaves

(p.8) Chapter 1 Chattel Slaves
Status in Classical Athens

Deborah Kamen

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the legal and social status of the “basest” chattel slaves—that is, those performing the basest forms of labor, like working in the mines or mills. Chattel slaves had no legal claims to property, either moveable or unmoveable. They also, in theory, had no power over their labor or movement: they performed the tasks that were assigned to them and engaged in no movement that was not mandated by their master or mistress. In practice, this ideal behavior was not necessarily realized: although specific tasks were assigned to slaves, the ways in which they conducted these tasks were within their control, and many slaves (particularly in households with few slaves) were “multitaskers” who presumably had some degree of control over which tasks they did when, and how. That said, to the extent that they did not choose their occupations, and did not own the means or fruits of their production, slaves, at least ideologically, had no control over their labor.

Keywords:   Greeks, classical Athens, chattel slaves, slavery, legal status, social status, manual labor

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