previous next

Public Slaves

Some slaves enjoyed a measure of independence by working as public slaves1 owned by the city-state instead of an individual. They lived on their own and performed specialized tasks. In Athens, for example, public slaves in the classical period had the responsibility for certifying the genuineness of the city-state's coinage as well as many other administrative jobs in city service. Athenian public slaves also formed a corps of assistants to the citizen magistrates responsible for the punishment of criminals, and the city-state's official executioner was a public slave. In this way, citizens were able to maintain an arm's-length distance between themselves and distasteful jobs like the arrest and execution of fellow citizens.

Slaves attached to temples also lived without individual owners because temple slaves belonged to the god of the sanctuary, for which they worked as servants. Some female temple slaves served as sacred prostitutes2 at the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth, and their earnings helped support the sanctuary.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: