In Greek Civilization what is the relationship between the indivudual liberty of the male citizens of the citystate and the subjugation of city's slaves?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The polis is where the greatest of Greek political life was seen.  For the Greeks, to be free meant to possess political autonomy.  Individuals who were free were those who were able to exercise political action and activism over their own lives.  In the city- states, these political realms were dominated by men.  It was the men who were able to vote, make decisions about state and society, and exercise political autonomy.  In the same way, enslavement meant to not be able to make such political decisions.  The slave was one who did not possess the political ability to vote or to cast decisions about their own consciousness.  It is here where I think that one sees where individual liberty and gender are linked.  The ability to determine one's own life was a political element and individuals who lacked the political ability to be active determined if one had liberty.  For the city- state, women, for example, were considered slaves or property because they lacked the ability to activate this notion of political liberty.  In this, there is a clear understanding that political activity is what determines freedom and liberty.  Gender became a defining element in this condition of political liberty.

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