These were people who had been captured in war, or been condemned to slavery as a result of debts which they could not pay; or for crimes. In law they were the property of their owners. They worked as household servants or farm laborers for the wealthy, or miners and industrial workers for businessmen. Trained slaves could act as skilled craftsmen, or perhaps secretaries.
As the Greek cities grew in size and wealth, their societies became more complex. New classes appeared, of prosperous craftsmen, sailors and traders, to stand alongside the older classes of aristocrats, peasants and slaves. These new groups became the natural opponents of the aristocrats, and their influence in politics helped undermine aristocratic power. It is no coincidence that those cities with the largest commercial sectors moved furthest along the road to democracy.
Most city-states also had numbers of “aliens” living within their walls. These were free men and women who had homes in the city, but had been born elsewhere (or their parents and grandparents had), usually in another Greek city-state. They were often merchants or craftsmen. They were not enrolled amongst the citizens and did not have their privileges; they were deemed to have the citizenship of the city they or their families had originally come from. In most cities, citizenship was jealously guarded by a hereditary group of native families.
As in many pre-modern societies, unwanted children were exposed in the countryside to die. Sons were preferred over daughters, so it was baby girls who tended to suffer this fate. Exposure was not illegal, though once the baby was more than 10 days old it was fully protected by law. Exposed babies were often rescued and brought up as slaves.
Babies in wealthy families were usually breast-fed by a household slave. Older children had toys to play with, as in all societies: rattles and balls were popular, as were dolls.
Boys from wealthier families went to school (see the section on education, below), and some girls were also educated. Poorer boys would be trained in a craft, on the job. This often involved picking up the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Women lived very sheltered lives, first under the authority of their father or another male relative, and then under that of their husband. Marriages were arranged by the parents.
The man was very much the dominant partner in a marriage (at least in law). The role of the woman was to cook, weave, raise her children. In poorer families, a woman might also help her husband in his work, especially if he worked on a farm (which the majority online payday loans Rogersville TN of men did); or she herself might keep a market stall or do some other kind of work.
The majority of the poor lived in what we would regard as squalid rural hovels, or crowded urban slums crowded together in narrow, filthy lanes. In a large city like Athens, some of the poor lived in multi-story blocks of apartments.
Larger houses were constructed around a courtyard, with rooms leading off. Some of these were quite modest, for well-to-do craftsmen or farmers; some were large and luxurious, with accommodation for a large household including many slaves. These houses were of two stories, and were equipped with bathrooms and toilets. The walls of the reception rooms and family quarters were painted with large, colorful scenes.
Men wore tunics, over which a large piece of cloth could be draped. Women wore long tunics falling to their ankles, and they too could drape large pieces of cloth over themselves. These tunics and cloaks were mostly made of wool. Children’s clothing consisted of short tunics. Leather sandals were worn on the feet.