We are familiar with slavery in Ancient Greece;
- Fair-tressed Hecamede who prepared a cup for Nestor (Iliad 11. 616 ) along with Chrysies and Briseis, who were slaves to Agamemnon and Achilles (Iliad Book I),
- Eumaeus Odysseus’s swineherd a slave purchased by Laertes who owned his own slave (Odyssey 14. 450]
- Eurycleia, Odysseus’ nanny who Laertes bought for twenty oxen (Odyssey 1.425] and Aethra, handmaiden to Helen; a gift from her brothers the Dioscuri.
Kimie at Hour 25 points out that were divine slaves among the Ancient Greeks;
- As consequence to his rebellion against Zeus “Phoebus, didst herd the sleek kine of shambling gait amid the spurs of wooded Ida, the many-ridged.” (Hom. Il. xxi. 446)
- “When Admetus reigned over Pherae, Apollo served him as his thrall,” (APOLLODORUS, LIBRARY 1.9.15) Because he slew the younger Cyclops that forged Zeus’ thunderbolts.
- While Apollo herded Laomedon’s kine above, Poseidon (and Aecaeus Achilles’ grandfather) “built for the Trojans round about their city a wall, wide and exceeding fair, that the city might never be broken” But rather then pay the two gods at the end of the term of their hire the Trojan King did send them “away with a threatening word”, said he would bind them and sell them into slavery, even made as if “he would lop off with the bronze the ears of … both”(Il. xxi. 446) Not the sort of reward you offer freemen, much less gods.
- Herakles’ servitude to Queen Omphale (DIODORUS SICULUS 4.31.8] Apparently Heracles services to his queen included the bed as witness by their son.But was there slavery in the heavens above?
- When Sarah S. and I discussed this the other day we thought of Zeus’ cupbearer. (Iliad 20. 232) Ganymede was abducted and taken to Olympus but his duties were not so inferior that Hera’s own children didn’t perform them, plus in the deal he got immortality and endless youth. That said, rumor has it the youth was a “favorite” of Zeus
- The ancient sea-god Proteus was servant of Poseidon and shepherd of Poseidon’s herds. (Iliad 4)
- an obscure daemon named Menoetius was a guard of the oxen of Hades. (Apollod. ii. 5. § 10.) But every other shepherd on Mt. Ida was a Trojan prince, so a shepherd is not necessarily a slave
- Hera’s handmaiden help with the horses and chariots, but She and Athena do the duties too. That said Hera seems empowered to dispose of them as she pleases; as a bribe to Sleep in the Iliad and as a replacement for the faithless Aphrodite to Hephaestus.
Were divine cupbearers, handmaidens and shepherds slaves?