Athenian Nobleman to a Slave Trader, c. 400 BCE

There's a perfect spot between too hot and too cold and he never seems to get it right.

Dear Sir:

I am writing to complain about the new shower I purchased from you last month. Your sales representative assured me that Thracians make the best showerers, and that this model, “Graxian,” was the best of the best. And yet, as soon as I got it home and tried to install it, it didn’t fit in the slot. No one told me that I should have ordered a Junior model. I blame your pushy sales techniques for not informing me of this limitation.

Luckily, I was able to modify my shower to fit the new model. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed some sever limitations. First, it has large and clumsy hands, so it spills water on its way from the baths to the shower. This is a slipping hazard. I’ve also noticed a tendency to make weird blubbering noises and random wailing. Something about “a wife and children” and “will not stop til the blood of every Athenian noble is spilled on the dusty ground of this decadent wasteland.” This is very distressing when myself and my colleagues are enjoying a nice shower.

I’m afraid that if you do not offer me a full refund, I will take my business elsewhere. This is sad, because I remember vividly my father purchasing me my first slave from your boss. She was just lovely and lasted a long time. In fact, I purchased my last shower from you and the little scamp was terrific until it keeled over and died, covered in boils and hacking. I don’t blame you for that, since it was past the 2 month warranty. However, this current state of affairs is unacceptable. If you do not comply, next time I need something for the harvest, or another 12-year-old boy to share my bed with, I will me more than willing to visit Mr. Plotinus.

Good day,

Diotenes of Athens

Analysis:

This letter, which was briefly exhibited at the London Museum of Phlegm, is an ancient illustration of a modern concern: what to do when your slave just isn’t working.

While of course today we don’t use slaves for showering, which is widely recognized to be barbaric, we scholars of letter history still use slaves for many things: sweeping letter scraps, combing our mustaches, and disposing of bodies.

Of course, while getting a warranty, checking references and buying a well-tested model are as important today as they were 2000 years ago, very few people recognize that a good slave-dealer will replace a broken or worn out product. Approach your slave-dealer with your concerns and don’t be afraid to tell him what you’re really thinking. Remember, you are the customer. They are trying to sell you someone and they should be sensitive to your needs.

And never forget: history has a lot to teach us.

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