This article examines a dramatic story about a slave rebellion on the island of Chios and argues that such stories were the medium through which masters and slaves negotiated compromise between the slaves' desire to be free and the masters' desire to control their slaves. This interpretation arises from a recognition of the complexity of a story that on the one hand celebrates the triumphs of a heroic slave over his masters, but on the other hand suggests that such resistance can be contained if masters treat their slaves humanely. Numerous parallels are drawn with contemporaneous and later historical societies involving compromises between subordinate groups and those who would control them. Finally, the article demonstrates that religious cults could be a medium for negotiating a middle ground, and that the story of the slave hero on Chios illustrates this function by making the slave the object of cultic worship by both masters and slaves.

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