A social structure or social hierarchy can be defined as the placement of various groups of people in the society on the basis of their role and responsibilities in the society. It also depends majorly on the nature of relationship that they possess with other people in the social structure.
The ancient Phoenicians also practised a hierarchical structure among themselves to organize their society where their society got divided into three major classes, namely: Social Class, Middle Class and working class from top to bottom. Following is a brief description of classes in the ancient Phoenician hierarchy:
- Social Class
- Middle Class
- Working Class
King was at the top of the society and social hierarchy, but as at that time Kings being the rulers of the entire kingdom were not considered a part of the social hierarchy. It was believed that the kings were divine agents and hence all the land, people and assets in the kingdom belonged to King. His major responsibility was to appoint elite officers at various social institutions for supervision of the work. They were also the leaders of the army and headed & commanded the army.
The uppermost class in the ancient Phoenician hierarchy was the social class which comprised of the most elite people of the society and included government officials, land owners and priests. These were the people who were given the utmost importance in the society. Although the main Phoenician city was ruled by king but king was not considered as the part of the hierarchy. The social class in the society possessed the major powers and aristocracy.
The middle class comprised of people like farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and merchants. This class of people also enjoyed certain privileges and possessed certain rights like the social class, to protect them from law to a certain extent. This class was also considered as one of the important sections of society as they were responsible for fulfilling the day to day needs of people ranging from food to other material goods.
Trading also was becoming popular at that time, hence merchants used to trade & barter things that was required in exchange of the things that were surplus in the kingdom. In a way, they were running the economy of the kingdom.
The working class included the lowest level citizens like the servants and the slaves. These were the people who acquired the bottom most level in the society and were responsible for serving the rich people as slaves. Although they had the least set of rights in the society but the laws & regulations of society protected them from to some extent. The uppermost class was harsh and treated them badly, but they had the right to speak for themselves given to them by the law.
By law, they also possessed the right of earning money and buying their freedom by it. They were free to pay the price for their freedom and join the middle class.