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Helots and Their Masters in Laconia and Messenia

Helots and Their Masters in Laconia and Messenia

Histories, Ideologies, Structures

Edited by Nino Luraghi and Susan Alcock

ISBN 9780674012233

Publication date: 01/15/2004

The name “Helots” evokes one of the most famous peculiarities of ancient Sparta, the system of dependent labor that guaranteed the livelihood of the free citizens. The Helots fulfilled all the functions that slaves carried out elsewhere in the Greek world, allowing their masters the leisure to be full-time warriors. Yet, despite their crucial role, Helots remain essentially invisible in our ancient sources and peripheral and enigmatic in modern scholarship.

This book is devoted to a much-needed reassessment of Helotry and of its place in the history and sociology of unfree labor. The essays deal with the origins and historical development of Helotry, with its sociological, economic, and demographic aspects, with its ideological construction and negotiation.


  • Altogether, these papers provide a stimulating overview of the major questions, debates, and methodologies in current scholarship on helotage in one accessible volume. This collection of engaging and often provocative papers should realize its editors’ interest in promoting future research on the history of the helots.

    —Ellen G. Millender, Bryn Mawr Classical Review


  • Nino Luraghi is Professor of the Classics at Harvard University.
  • Susan Alcock is John H. D'Arms Collegiate Professor of Classical Archaeology and Classics at the University of Michigan.

Book Details

  • Center for Hellenic Studies