Arming Slaves: From Classical Times to the Modern Age by Christopher Leslie Brown, Philip D. Morgan

By Christopher Leslie Brown, Philip D. Morgan

Arming slaves as infantrymen is a counterintuitive inspiration. but all through heritage, in lots of diversified societies, slaveholders have entrusted slaves with using lethal strength. This e-book is the 1st to survey the perform generally throughout area and time, encompassing the cultures of classical Greece, the early Islamic kingdoms of the close to East, West and East Africa, the British and French Caribbean, the USA, and Latin America.

To facilitate cross-cultural comparisons, every one bankruptcy addresses 4 the most important matters: the social and cultural evidence concerning the arming of slaves, the event of slave squaddies, the ideological origins and results of equipping enslaved peoples for conflict, and the effect of the perform at the prestige of slaves and slavery itself. What emerges from the e-book is a brand new ancient knowing: the arming of slaves is neither unusual nor paradoxical yet is as a substitute either predictable and explicable.

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Classical Athens, however, depended more on its navy than its hoplites. ’’∞∑ Although Tyrtaeus’ poem manifestly oversimplifies the actual complexity of social status in Greece, the military virtues played an unusually large role in the Greek spectrum of values. Accordingly, the question of arming slaves was always a political and ideological one as well as a practical one. All sorts of military service, therefore, even rowing for the navy, were associated with rights that slaves manifestly did not have and, to Greek thinking, should not have.

The ships were stuck with extremely unmotivated slave rowers without individual masters responsible for them and with no training or experience in naval warfare. π≥ As the Athenians’ prospects in Sicily faded, anybody who could abandon them did so. Until this point, the mixed crews of slaves, foreigners, and Athenians seem to have functioned perfectly well. This regular and usually uncontroversial use of slaves in the Athenian navy seems worlds away from the tension and conflict usually associated with arming slaves—often in the teeth of violent opposition from slave owners.

Finley—Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology (Harmondsworth, 1980) and the articles collected in B. Shaw and R. , Economy and Society in Ancient Greece (New York, 1982)—still provide much of the conceptual framework for more recent research. N. R. E. Fisher, Slavery in Classical Greece (London, 1993) provides a balanced introduction with bibliography. Yvon Garlan, Slavery in Ancient Greece, trans. Janet Lloyd (Ithaca, NY, 1988) is another excellent overview from a Marxian perspective. T. E. J. Wiedemann, Greek and Roman Slavery (London, 1981) is a useful collection of translated ancient sources.

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