Slaves, Warfare, and Ideology in the Greek Historians

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The warring Greek city-states of the classical period often found it advantageous to use slaves in their armed forces and to encourage rebellion or desertion amongst the slaves of their enemies. But since military service was highly esteemed while the state of slavery was despised, classical Greek historians such as Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon tended not to discuss slave participation in war. This book examines the actual role of slaves in war, the neglect of it by historians, and the reasons for this reticence.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hunt's important book challenges some of the most fundamental premises of Greek historiography. ...this book will interest all students of Greek history and historiography. Undergraduates and above." Choice

"Hunt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious book." Jeremy Trevett, Phoenix

"Coolly and elegantly written and almost wholly persuasive, it is an original and powerful contribution to the study of Greek warfare and Greek ideologies of slavery and serfdom...the book is a major contribution to the understanding of the contradictions inherent in the functioning and the ideology of slave systems." American Historical Journal

"...this book is a worthwhile and readable study of Greek attitudes about war and slavery...As a sensible and well-reasoned challenge to the current orthodoxy this book is to be welcomed." Red River Historical Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521584296
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

Classical sources
1 Background: warfare, slavery, and ideology 1
Classical warfare 7
Helots 13
Ideology 19
2 Herodotus: the Persian Wars 26
Marathon and the Helot Revolt 26
Thermopylae and Plataea 31
Salamis 40
3 Herodotus: freedom or slavery 42
Ancient and modern omission 42
Slavery and warfare 46
4 Thucydides: Helots and Messenians 53
Helot soldiers 56
Athenians and Messenians 62
Thucydides' attitude 68
The Messenian question 76
5 Thucydides: manning the navies 83
Non-Athenian navies 84
Arginusae 87
Other objections 96
6 Thucydides: encouraging slave desertion 102
Desertion and revolt 102
The fate of fugitive slaves 108
Recruitment and rebellion 115
7 Thucydides: the ideology of citizen unity 121
Military prerogatives 122
Slave and citizen 126
A threatened ideology 132
Extremists 135
Thucydides 138
8 Xenophon: ideal rulers, ideal slaves 144
The military basis of rule 146
War as test 153
Binaries 158
Xenophon, Sambo, and Nat 160
9 Xenophon: warfare and revolution 165
Xenophon the soldier 165
The Neodamodeis 170
Slave soldiers in the Ways and Means 175
The foundation of Messene 177
10 Xenophon: the decline of hoplite ideology 185
Military hierarchies 185
Hoplite purity 190
Ignobic battles 194
The status of soldiers 202
11 Conclusion: Volones, Mamluks, and Confederates 206
Livy and the Volones 206
Islamic slave soldiers 209
Slaves for the Confederacy? 214
Conclusion 218
Bibliography 222
Index 242
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