On the Explanation of the Wealthy Slave in Classical Athens
Cooper, Carrie Elizabeth
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This paper seeks to explain the existence of wealthy and socially influential slaves in the fourth century BCE at Athens, Greece. I describe what went on at Athens from the late seventh century until the early third century and show that transformation in the land to labor ratio combined with cultural, legal and political changes led to a period of time where slaves acquired wealth and power. First, changes in the land to labor ratio at a time when Athens was going through vast political change led to a culture where it was socially unacceptable for a free Athenian to work for another free Athenian. Slaves could then work in sectors unavailable to free Athenians, which led them to gain wealth and eventually societal power.