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New Left Review I/197, January-February 1993

Dimitris J. Kyrtatas

The Western Way to Freedom


‘The smallest division of a household into parts gives three pairs,’ says Aristotle in the Politics, ‘master and slave, husband and wife, father and children’. [1] 1253b5–7. It is obvious that a modern sociology textbook would not endorse such analytical presuppositions. But it is equally clear that modern readers would have no difficulty in understanding Aristotle’s reasoning. That the ancient Greek world was sharply divided into slaves and free persons and that the hierarchical structure of its families was patriarchal comes as no surprise to anyone with the slightest knowledge of its history. In line with Aristotle, at least since the Communist Manifesto, the division of human societies into slaves and free persons is commonly regarded as an early stage of class differentiation which have a continuous development to the present day. [2] But see discussion in g.e.m. de Ste Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World, London 1981, p. 66.

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Dimitris Kyrtatas, ‘The Western Path to Freedom’, NLR I/197: £3

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