Skip to main content

Slaves and Other Objects

Page duBois, a classicist known for her daring and originality, turns in this new book to one of the most troubling subjects in the study of antiquity: the indispensability of slaves in ancient Greece. DuBois argues that every object and text in the world of ancient Greece bears the marks of slavery and the need to reiterate the distinction between slave and free. And yet the ubiquity of slaves in ancient societies has been overlooked by scholars who idealize antiquity, misconstrued by those who view slavery through the lens of race, and obscured by the split between historical and philological approaches to the classics.

DuBois begins her study by exploring the material culture of slavery, including how most museum exhibits erase the presence of slaves in the classical world. Shifting her focus to literature, she considers the place of slaves in Plato’s Meno, Aristotle’s Politics, Aesop’s Fables, Aristophanes’ Wasps, and Euripides’ Orestes. She contends throughout that portraying the difference between slave and free as natural was pivotal to Greek concepts of selfhood and political freedom, and that scholars who idealize such concepts too often fail to recognize the role that slavery played in their articulation.

Opening new lines of inquiry into ancient culture, Slaves and Other Objects will enlighten classicists and historians alike.

312 pages | 25 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2003

Ancient Studies

Gender and Sexuality

History: Ancient and Classical History

Literature and Literary Criticism: Classical Languages


“[duBois’] timely and passionate book reinstates slaves at the center of the ancient household and psyche. . . . Page duBois has certainly achieved her stated goal in making it far more difficult for classicists anywhere to avoid looking ancient slaves in the face when examining the artifacts, literature, and thought of the societies which denied them liberty.”

Edith Hall | Times Literary Supplement

“A stimulating and polemical text directed primarily at a general readership, and specifically at those . . . who may idealize ancient Greek cultural achievements unaware of the ubiquity of their slave systems, or misinterpret Greek slavery under the influence of the racial basis of slavery in the Americas.”

Nick Fisher | American Historical Review

"DuBois’ book is the most fundamental and advanced statement of the problems and ways forward for anyone wishing to investigate the place of slavery within ancient Greek culture."

Niall McKeown | Hermathena

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Communicating with the Dead
Slaves and Everyday Life
2. Greeks in the Museum
3. Dildos
4. The Slave Body
5. Slavery as Metaphor, Slavery and Freedom
6. The Woman Enslaved
7. The Slave Plato
8. Aesop the Fabulist
9. On Aristotle
Or, The Political Theory of Possessive Mastery
10. Irate Greek Masters and Their Slaves
The Politics of Anger
Material World

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press