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Related to Helots: acropolis, Lycurgus


1. Helot One of a class of serfs in ancient Sparta, neither a slave nor a free citizen.
2. A person in servitude; a serf.

[From Greek Heilōtes, pl. of Heilōs, Heilōt-.]


(ˈhɛlət; ˈhiː-)
1. (Historical Terms) (in ancient Greece, esp Sparta) a member of the class of unfree men above slaves owned by the state
2. (Historical Terms) (usually not capital) a serf or slave
[C16: from Latin Hēlotēs, from Greek Heilōtes, alleged to have meant originally: inhabitants of Helos, who, after its conquest, were serfs of the Spartans]


(ˈhɛl ət)

1. (cap.) a member of a class of serfs in ancient Sparta who were bound to the land and owned by the state.
2. a serf or slave.
[1570–80; < Latin hēlōtēs (pl.) < Greek heílōtes]
hel′ot•ry, n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.helot - (Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lordhelot - (Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord
Europe - the 2nd smallest continent (actually a vast peninsula of Eurasia); the British use `Europe' to refer to all of the continent except the British Isles
cottier, cotter - a medieval English villein
thrall - someone held in bondage
Dark Ages, Middle Ages - the period of history between classical antiquity and the Italian Renaissance
References in classic literature ?
He was a helot in the great hunt of helots that the masters were making.
Besides, he makes the husbandmen masters of property upon paying a tribute; but this would be likely to make them far more troublesome and high-spirited than the Helots, the Penestise, or the slaves which others employ; nor has he ever determined whether it is necessary to give any attention to them in these particulars, nor thought of what is connected therewith, their polity, their education, their laws; besides, it is of no little consequence, nor is it easy to determine, how these should be framed so as to preserve the community of the military.
I mastered the notion of their communism, and approved of their iron money, with the poverty it obliged them to, yet somehow their cruel treatment of the Helots failed to shock me; perhaps I forgave it to their patriotism, as I had to forgive many ugly facts in the history of the Romans to theirs.
A helot of Agesilaus made us a dish of Spartan broth, but I was not able to get down a second spoonful.
Next day, when I saw the directress, and when she made an excuse to meet me in the corridor, and besought my notice by a demeanour and look subdued to Helot humility, I could not love, I could scarcely pity her.
Further and even more importantly, Thucydides writes that the Spartans were happy to have an excuse to send out helots from the Peloponnese, since the occupation of Pylos was thought to have increased the chances of a helot revolt.
Sparta parried the threat from Athens, only to find its fears realized a generation later by Epaminondas, the Theban general who defeated Sparta and liberated the helots.
Those helots were essential to Sparta's military power because they provided the sustenance on which the economy and warrior polis depended, since the Spartans forbade any kind of industry or trade to its warrior citizens, whose sole business was preparation for war.
For it was the serfdom of the Messenians, predicated on Lacedaemon's earlier treatment of the Helots, which advanced a Spartiate class that constantly prepared for war.
In Sparta, in sharp contrast, the tradition of allowing citizens to kill Helots (slaves) without retribution during certain days each year was preserved.
Summary: Writers, thinkers and of course journalists remain the helots of our region and the adage that the pen is mightier than the sword has yet to reach our shores, while persecution of journalists in the Arab world can vary from a beating on the street to a jail term or outright execution, and punishment for words that anger the authorities, a sect or tribe is destined to take writers and those behind them into the unknown.