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Queen's University

Student Theses - 2002

'Between free men and slaves' : a study of the helots of Sparta

Lorencz, Holly Anne

The Helots were the state-owned, enslaved, agricultural workers of Lakonia and Messenia from an early point in Greece's history until the time of Roman occupation. While the Helots' presence in the fields and in the military has been well-attested, other Helots lived in the homes of the Spartiates as personal servants and Helot women may have even been concubines. These details have been understudied in the past and their role in rebellions at Sparta has been overemphasized. Also, few writers have incorporated theories on slavery into their studies on Helots. These ideas provide new interpretations of underlying factors of the Helots' enslavement and how the conditions affected their behaviour. When we take into account the changes in the conditions of late classical Sparta, and the Helots who worked in Sparta, we notice that there was more interdependence between these groups than has been previously thought. With their agricultural produce, the Helots allowed the Spartiates to participate in the army, and Sparta to maintain her military state.

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