If you have any questions about the event please contact Lucy Salmon.

E: l.salmon@ucl.ac.uk

T: +44(0)20 7679 3089

Greek and Latin

Slavery in the Ancient World

The cultures of the ancient world had a very different view of human rights from our own. People were put into categories according to their social status, and these distinctions were justified as being somehow immutable, a natural consequence of who you were. The life of a citizen male was very different from the life of a free woman or a slave; and each had a different legal and political status in society.  Slavery, which was universal in the ancient world, and without which the great achievements of ancient culture could never had been created, constitutes a flagrant and excruciating denial of the modern liberal notion of universal human rights.  Starting from a consideration of the nature of ancient slavery, and the continued existence of slavery as a form of exploitation in the modern world, the lecture will address some basic concepts in the ancient conceptualisation and justification of slavery as a universal and natural social institution; the seminar will consider a number of important passages on slavery in classical authors, looking at how slavery and slaves are represented in ancient literature, and what those representations might mean for our understanding of life in the ancient world.