Should we consider, along with the great specialist Patrick Manning, that “the field of slavery studies has become a model of comparatism in social and economic history”? This depends on what we mean by the term “comparatism,” which has come to denote approaches as different in their methods as they are varied, and even contradictory, in their goals. Since the end of the 1990s, the global history of slavery has highlighted the epistemological naivety of a certain comparatist tradition that understands slavery from the perspective of its institutions, and not as a dynamic process resulting from specific historical conditions. It is nevertheless important to identity the limits of such a “global” approach when it claims to be the only method capable of defining slavery throughout history. After reviewing the theoretical challenges that traverse the contemporary historiography of slavery, this article seeks to show what a “morphological” comparatist approach, using redefined scales of observation, methods, and goals, can contribute to the study of one particular society: Athens during the Classical period. By looking at a specific organization of servile labor common to numerous slave societies, in which a slave tied to the running of a piece of land, a workshop, or a commercial store made regular payments to his master, it is possible to reinterrogate some fundamental aspects of the institution of slavery in ancient Athens.