In the Archaic Period a captive taken on the battlefield or when a village, town, or city is sacked may be kept in, or sold into, servitude by his captor. In the case of battlefield captives, the relatives often buy their kinsman (slaves are not terribly expensive), effectively ransoming him. Captives taken in a sack are in a worse case, as their wealth will often have been appropriated by looters, and their kinsfolk may well be their comrades-in-chains. Debtors may be reduced to slavery, sometimes with their wives and children.

In the Archaic Period there is continual low-level warfare among the multitude of city-states: slaves are plentiful, most slaves are Gehennese, and many will have been born free. Slaves are used mostly for work around the house and on the farm of a wealthy warrior. A few states own state slaves, who are usually put to back-breaking work in the quarries and on the city walls, though a few states employ them as unpaid or low-paid mercenaries, especially in police duties.

The legal position of a slave varies from state to state. In some his owner may legally kill him, in others his or her owner must feed him when old and nurse him, and may not beat him without cause. Generally, oligarchic and democratic states give the greatest freedom to the slave-owner, while monarchial ones give most protection to the slave.

In the Classical Period warfare in Gehennum is generally less common, but the Civil War produced a wave of enslavements. Most slaves are either born into servitude, reduced to slavery through debt, or imported from overseas. Because of the common-ness of imports, slaves are often not, or not pure, Gehennese—like metics they are marked by foreign ethnicity.

In the Classical Period slaves are more commonly employed in brothels, workshops, and factories, though the usual employment of slaves is still as servants in the houses of the rich.

The legal position of slaves is not too bad. Their owners may beat them arbitrarily, but may not starve or kill them. A slave may appeal to the courts to be liberated from a cruel owner, and if accused of a crime, is entitled to a trial before a magistrate.

In the Decadent Period slaves are still imported in large numbers, debtors and impoverished peasants being the main sources of slaves of Gehennese race. The major innovation is that a father is now allowed to sell his children into slavery (though he must sell the others, if he can, before his eldest son). Also, in many episkopies, the courts commonly use enslavement as a punishment for crime, especially for convicts who cannot pay their fines or damages. Also, the courts tend to give the owner much more latitude than was the case in the Classical Period. In many places it is once more accepted that an owner may kill his slave, and in few may a slave bring a suit at law against his owner.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.