Skip to main content
Courses / Modules / HIST1208 Slavery in Ancient Greece and Rome

Slavery in Ancient Greece and Rome

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 4
Module lead
Eleanor Quince
Academic year

Module overview

Of all the essential differences between the worlds of modernity and the ancient Mediterranean, perhaps none is starker than the virtually universal acceptance of slavery in Ancient Greece and Rome. Daily life in these societies was grounded upon the systematic subjugation of a significant proportion of the population, and yet slavery was not a monolithic institution. It affected social, economic, and cultural relations in the Greek and Roman worlds in different ways, while also shaping divergent strains of political and intellectual thought. Consequently, by focussing on slavery and conducting careful comparative history, we can gain invaluable insight into both the lives of the enslaved and the norms of the societies in which they lived. To that end, this module will provide a chronological history of Greek and Roman slavery, close analysis of how the institutions of slavery varied depending on time and place, and an introduction to the growth of modern scholarly interest in the subject over the past three decades. We shall focus on enslaved men, women, and children: individuals who were omnipresent across all levels and sectors of society, who supported the lives and careers of their owners, and without whom the most enduring products of Greek and Roman culture, from architecture to literature, could not have existed. During the module, you will be challenged to consider the exploitative realities of the ancient slave trade, the way freeborn individuals thought about and justified slavery, the impact of slavery on political discourse, and the politics underlying modern representations of ancient slavery in various media, from scholarship to film

Back to top