I got myself male and female servants, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle more than all that were in Jerusalem before me:
All Commentaries on Ecclesiastes 2:7 Go To Ecclesiastes 2
Gregory of Nyssa
What is such a gross example of arrogance in the matters enumerated above—an opulent house, and an abundance of vines, and ripeness in vegetable plots, and collecting waters in pools and channeling them in gardens—as for a human being to think himself the master of his own kind? “I got me slaves and slave girls,” he says, and “homebred slaves were born for me.” Do you notice the enormity of the boast? This kind of language is raised up as a challenge to God. For we hear from prophecy that “all things are the slaves” of the power that transcends all. So, when someone turns the property of God into his own property and arrogates dominion to his own kind, so as to think himself the owner of men and women, what is he doing but overstepping his own nature through pride, regarding himself as something different from his subordinates?… You have forgotten the limits of your authority and that your rule is confined to control over things without reason. For it says “let them rule over” winged creatures and fishes and fourfooted things and creeping things. Why do you go beyond what is subject to you and raise yourself up against the very species that is free, counting your own kind on a level with fourfooted things and even footless things? … But by dividing the human species in two with “slavery” and “ownership” you have caused it to be enslaved to itself and to be the owner of itself.… He who knew the nature of humankind rightly said that the whole world was not worth giving in exchange for a human soul. Whenever a human being is for sale, therefore, nothing less than the owner of the earth is led into the sale room. Presumably, then, the property belonging to him is up for auction too. That means the earth, the islands, the sea, and all that is in them. What will the buyer pay, and what will the vendor accept, considering how much property is entailed in the deal?… In what respect have you something extra, tell me, that you who are human think yourself the master of a humble being, and say, “I got me slaves and slave girls,” like herds of goats or pigs. For when he said, “I got me slaves and slave girls,” he added that abundance in flocks of sheep and cattle came to him. For he says, “and much property in cattle and sheep became mine,” as though both cattle and slaves were subject to his authority to an equal degree.