490 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
poet Euripides and the philosopher Aristotle, both of whom distinguished themselves by
accumulating large libraries of valuable and rare works.
Other connoisseurs there were who turned their energies to the collection of articles of a
non-literary character. Old things of quaint device and singular pattern were eagerly
sought after by the dilettanti and hunters of bric-a-brac, just as the relics and fashions
of the fourteenth century are now pursued by the fanciers of what is valuable for being
out of date. Indeed, this taste for the rare and curious was as keen in the Greeks as in
any of the monomaniacs of our day< The lyre of Orpheus was hunted as eagerly as the wood
of the True Cross is now sought by those who believe in its virtues. One Greek carved an
ivory chariot and four horses of such stupendous proportions that the whole could be
covered by the wings of housefly, and another executed two verses of Homer on a grain of
The care of the Greek household was largely intrusted to the slaves. These were owned by
all families except the poorest. The morality of the institution was never questioned even
by the philosophers. With them human freedom meant freedom for the Greek. Not even the
author of the Atlantis seems ever to have troubled himself about the existence of slavery
in his own country. The slaves were all barbarians, either taken in battle or purchased in
the market. He who went to war with a Greek did it with a knowledge that he was running
the risk of perpetual servitude with the chances greatly against him. Still, however, the
condition he would be thus exposed was far more tolerable than in any other ancient state.
The slave of the Greek, though subject to his master, was not as a rule treated with
severity. He might marry and have a household of his own. In sickness and old age he was
released from toil, and cared for with decency, if not with tenderness. Ties of friendship
and even of intimacy were not infrequently contracted between slave and master which
survived all vicissitude and ended only with life. Albeit the condition of the Helots in
Sparta-a subject-race belonging to the soil and transferred with it as serfs-was an estate
totally different from common chattel slavery as it presented itself in Athens and the
other cities of Central Greece.
The slave-class in Attica was very numerous. In a population of five hundred and fifty
thousand souls, fully four hundred thousand were slaves-being in the ratio of three to one
of the free citizenship. This enormous element of population was distributed, as we have
already seen, from the houses of the free Greeks and into the factories, quarries, mines,
and indeed in all places where "naked human strength" was the thing required. In the house
of any well-to-do Greek citizen a retinue of about twenty slaves, male and female, was
required for the service. Upon them was devolved the entire labor, though not the
superintendence, of the establishment. In the gynaeconitis the mistress of the house and
her daughters sat among the domestics and supervised and directed in all that was done.
The householder meanwhile ordered his division of the servants to their various tasks, and
then went to the market-place to talk politics and discuss the management of the war.
There is little doubt that the institution of slavery among the Greeks was thus the blind
complement of that factious democracy which, uncurbed by useful tasks of labor, inserted
its idle talons in the breast of the state and tore out her vitals. Such were the manners
and institutions of the Hellenes in the times of their power arid renown.