Originally Posted by Thessalonian
There is no comparison between Persia and Greece. But if you think you can remind me of that , be my guest. There were over 1000 Greek cities in antiquity and we only know about slaves in some of them. We ignore the status of a slave in all others. Yes, there were slaves in ancient Greece but they were protected by law, and they could purchase their freedom in most cases. They were more like servants.
But this is not about Greece. This is about Persia. I just showed how Persians although generally banned slavery, there is evidence that war captives were still enslaved. You can ignore the evidence if you feel uncomfortable but that doesn't change anything...
The conception of slavery is associated with the conception of freedom. A slave is someone which is not free. Therefore, for a society to have slavery a society must have some free people. Ancient Greece and Rome were quite special in that respect, as all other ancient societies never developed slavery like the Graeco-Romans did. The type of slavery were people and brought and sold in large quantities only developed in comparable scale again in the early modern and modern periods. That's mostly because in other societies the difference between a free man and a slave was not sharp.
Ancient Greece and Rome consisted of a society mostly based on private property, while other ancient societies had other forms of organization (temple economies). Slaves are people that are the private property of free people.
The Ancient conception of freedom was linked with slavery, according to Hansen:
"The oldest and throughout antiquity most common meaning of eleutheros is “being free” as opposed to “being a slave”
(doulos). It is the only meaning attested in the Homeric poems,and if a Greek in antiquity was asked what eleutheria was, the
presumption is that first of all he would think of the opposition between eleutheria and douleia and say that a free person (eleutheros)
was his own master by contrast with a slave (doulos) who was the possession of his master (despotes)." source: http://www.duke.edu/web/classics/grb...50/Hansen1.pdf
, page 2
So, how was the Greek conception of freedom in Asia? According to Aristotle:
"The nations of Asia, however, are intelligent and skillful in character, but without spirit, with the result that they are continuously dominated and enslaved. But the Greek nation, just as it occupies the middle region, partakes in both characteristics: it is both full of heart and intelligent. On account of this it continues free, has the best government, and has the potential to rule all the human race if it gains political unity." Aristotle, Politics 7.6.1
Aristotle though that only in democracy people can be free, as if the population is ruled by a tyrant, the entire population becomes the slave of the ruler. Democracy was deeply connected with liberty:
"Now a fundamental principle of the democratic form of constitution is liberty—that is what is usually asserted, implying that only under this constitution do men participate in liberty, for they assert this as the aim of every democracy. But one factor of liberty is to govern and be governed in turn; for the popular principle of justice is to have equality according to number, not worth, and if this is the principle of justice prevailing, the multitude must of necessity be sovereign and the decision of the majority must be final and must constitute justice, for they say that each of the citizens ought to have an equal share; so that it results that in democracies the poor are more powerful than the rich, because there are more of them and whatever is decided by the majority is sovereign. This then is one mark of liberty which all democrats set down as a principle of the constitution. And one is for a man to live as he likes; for they say that this is the function of liberty, inasmuch as to live not as one likes is the life of a man that is a slave. This is the second principle of democracy, and from it has come the claim not to be governed, preferably not by anybody, or failing that, to govern and be governed in turns; and this is the way in which the second principle contributes to equalitarian liberty" Aristotle, Politics, 6.13.17b
Yes, the Ancient Greek women and slaves weren't free, however that is true of ALL pre-modern societies and many countries today. What is special is that SOME of the Greeks were free and recognized their individuality and the concept of having no master. In all other pre-modern societies that wasn't the case, one cannot find people saying things like that above, by Aristotle, until the 20th century. Only in the 20th century that democracy and liberty became the standards of global politics, and not just a form of government practiced in small city states.