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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Greeks had no single generic term for ‘slave’, but a variety of terms for diverse relations of dependence and unfree people, many of which were also used to describe free people. Although much less complex, the Roman slave terms show similar features. Despite the ambiguity of the ancient terminology, we may make inferences about various aspects of unfreedom, about ambiguities in social and juridical distinctions, and about attitudes to menial work. This chapter examines Greek and Roman terminologies, aiming at detecting their semantic fields and pointing to a possible identical semantic process behind the adoption of the main slave terms in Greece, Rome, and the modern western world.

Keywords: slavery, slaves, terminology, Greek, Roman, doulos, servus

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