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Arming SlavesFrom Classical Times to the Modern Age$
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Christopher Leslie Brown and Philip D. Morgan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300109009

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300109009.001.0001

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Arming Slaves and Helots in Classical Greece

Arming Slaves and Helots in Classical Greece

(p.14) Arming Slaves and Helots in Classical Greece
Arming Slaves

Peter Hunt

Yale University Press

In classical Greece, the independent city-states fought many wars against each other. When the wars became intense, often involving large navies, states used every available source of manpower including their slaves. Because many of these slaves were crucial to the states' agriculture and urban economies, cities sometimes encouraged their opponents' slaves to rebel or desert while mobilizing their own slaves. This chapter looks at the practice of arming slaves and Helots in classical Greece, focusing on three cases: slaves from Scythia who performed police functions within Athens, slaves who accompanied hoplites on campaigns but were unarmed, and slaves who were sometimes armed as infantry soldiers. It then examines the practical problems, politics, and effects of arming slaves by considering two cases: the military roles of Sparta's serf-like Helot population and the use of slaves in the Athenian navy during the Peloponnesian War.

Keywords:   classical Greece, city-states, wars, slaves, Helots, Scythia, Athens, hoplites, navy, Peloponnesian War

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