Greek and Roman Slavery

Module code: AH2553

Slavery - so deeply engrained in ancient Greek and Roman civilisation, that it was seen by some as a necessity as opposed to an evil. An estimate of 1 in 5 people at some point in the Roman Empire were slaves, and in ancient Greek literature, the majority of free Athenians are described as having at least one slave – not owning a slave was a sign of poverty.

We will explore the different origins of slavery, from prisoners of war, piracy and slave trade to simply being born as a child of a slave; and how slaves were used in family homes, agriculture, the construction industry and even to perform tasks in cult rituals. We will look at the political and economic environments that made for the development and continuation of slavery in ancient Greek and Roman societies.


This module is studied by distance learning. Teaching materials will include a module handbook and set readings, some of which may be delivered through Blackboard.


  • Essay, 3,000 words (70%) - you will be provided with a bibliography but will be expected to research more deeply
  • Source criticism, 1,500 words (30%)