Men in ancient Greece typically worked outside the home, while women were expected to perform household chores. Greek men were divided into three groups -- citizens, metics and slaves -- and employment opportunities were largely dictated by position in the social hierarchy. Citizenship and occupational opportunities based on social class were inherited, so it was nearly impossible for Greeks to change the social status they were born into. Metics, or non-slave Greeks who migrated to city-states, were not eligible for citizenship and typically worked low-paying jobs.
Free Men Occupations
The lowest rank of Greek citizens, known as thetes, typically labored in workshops as artisans and craftsmen in urban areas. Some worked with metal and crafted weapons, such as shields and swords. Others tanned leather, molded clay or carved wood to supply city-dwellers with tools, utensils, furnishings and clothing. Some were fishermen and sold their catch to all classes of society -- fish was a common food in the ancient Greek diet. Middle-class Greek men worked primarily as farmers on their own small plantations and often sold their produce to city-dwellers. Greek aristocrats owned and managed large estates.
Metics were free, but wealthy Greeks viewed them as lower class because they weren't citizens. They weren't allowed to vote or own property, yet they had to serve in the military and pay taxes. Metics typically did humble work that catered to the elite, such as maintaining the grounds of estate owners or providing services such as hunting, cooking and cleaning. Because metics were prohibited from owning property, they couldn't operate their own farms.
Greek slaves fell into three general classes. The lowest slaves typically worked in mines. Mid-level slaves were often employed by wealthy estate owners and as household servants, were often treated as part of the family. They performed laborious household chores, such as yard work, construction, animal upkeep, food preparation and maintenance. The highest class of slaves often served as professionals such as academic tutors and police officials.
Warriors were vital to Greek city-states in their conflicts with each other and in defense against attacks from outside powers, especially Persia. All male citizens and metics were required to train and serve in their military as citizen soldiers, except in Sparta, which had a professional army and required a deeper commitment. Citizen soldiers labored at their own farms during harvest time or when their military service wasn't needed. Career soldiers who served in their military full-time typically held prestigious rank in the community.
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