Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization

By Bruce Thornton | Go to book overview

The deity gave liberty to all men, and nature created no one a slave.

—Alcidamas1


THREE
The Roots of Emancipation

EVERY PRE-MODERN SOCIETY known to history practiced slavery in some form or other. From China to India, Africa to the New World, the ownership of humans by other humans was a ubiquitous evil. 2 Indeed, slavery still exists today: in March of 2000, the human rights group Christian Solidarity International purchased 4,968 children out of bondage in the Sudan. 3 Yet in the West, slavery was eradicated by the beginning of the modern age, with the exception of the Spanish colonies and the American South; and Americans fought a long, bloody civil war partly because the continued existence of chattel slavery was considered an atavistic barbarism incompatible with both Christianity and the progress humanity had made. One of the remarkable stories of human history is how an institution once so commonly accepted as an inevitable fact of life is now practiced in only a few parts of the world—and even there is kept hidden, in recognition of its universal condemnation.

The story of emancipation begins among the Greeks, yet as we noted earlier, many scholars today see slavery in ancient Greece as proof of hypocrisy. Such attitudes are not new. In 1935, R. W. Livingstone noted that "some people put the Greeks out of court at the

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Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Greek Ways - How the Greeks Created Western Civilization *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction - Seeing with Greek Eyes i
  • One - Eros the Killer 15
  • Two - The Best and Worst Thing 37
  • Three - The Roots of Emancipation 61
  • Four - The Father of All 84
  • Five - The Birth of Political Man 109
  • Six - The Birth of Rational Man 139
  • Seven - The Birth of Freedom 162
  • Conclusion - The Critical Spirit 188
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Notes 200
  • Bibliography 226
  • Index 234
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