By Christopher Leslie Brown, Philip D. Morgan

Arming slaves as infantrymen is a counterintuitive suggestion. but all through historical past, in lots of assorted societies, slaveholders have entrusted slaves with using lethal strength. This publication is the 1st to survey the perform widely 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 in regards to the arming of slaves, the adventure of slave infantrymen, the ideological origins and outcomes of equipping enslaved peoples for conflict, and the effect of the perform at the prestige of slaves and slavery itself. What emerges from the booklet is a brand new ancient realizing: the arming of slaves is neither unusual nor paradoxical yet is as an alternative either predictable and explicable.

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Arming Slaves and Helots 25 Slaves in the Athenian Navy Slaves were much more commonly used in the navy than as foot soldiers. Naval warfare required far larger numbers of people than land warfare. Athens never managed to field more than sixteen thousand hoplites at any one time, but its largest naval effort required fifty thousand crew members. So whereas hoplite service was not imposed on the poorer half of the citizen population, mobilizing a navy required large numbers of poor citizens, resident aliens, foreign mercenaries, and slaves.

If there were any distinction between slave and free among the rowers on a trireme, it might be that the thranitai tended to be free while slaves were relegated to the lower rows. In the absence of evidence either way, such a hierarchy among the rowers cannot be ruled out. The demands of military efficiency, however, can also be compelling: one can easily imagine sloppy, weak, or ill free thranitai being sent down in favor of fit slaves. In any case, the numbers probably never worked out exactly enough to allow a consistent distinction between slave and free rowers.

The Macedonians’ defeat of Athens and its allies at the battle of Chaeronia in 338 bc brought the Classical period to an end. The old Greek city-states entered a period of domination by large kingdoms and their professional or mercenary armies. The Hellenistic kingdoms resulting from the conquests of Alexander the Great were not essentially slave societies. Their Greek-speaking 34 Peter Hunt elite still owned slaves, but the rural economy was dominated by a dependent peasantry. Ω∂ They were nevertheless occasionally freed for emergency infantry service, used regularly in the navy, and involved in civil wars.

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