CLA233H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Roman Senate, Praetor, Pietas

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28 Jan 2013

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CLA233 Lecture 4 Notes
Slaves and Freedmen
- where slaves came from – slavery was not just a Roman phenomenon – very
common – some people would volunteer to be a slave to pay off a debt
- Roman scale of slavery is larger than most cities because Rome was the
largest community
- provision to set slave free – when slave was set free, not only became a free
man (“freedman”) but also became a Roman citizen
- when set free, a slave took the name of his master and was able to vote, join
the army, have children who were freeborn Roman citizens
- freedman freeman
- freedman – a Roman citizen, but a former slave
- freeman – Roman citizen by birth
- population of slaves and freedmen, or children of freemen, far exceeded
those of the original Roman population
- majority of people spoke Latin in early Rome, but by the reign of the emperor
Nero, the most common language used was Greek
- most slaves came from conquest – however it is largely unclear how many –
just an estimation – Julius Caesar invaded Gaul, with a population of about
ten million, and after the invasion about one million died and many others
were taken as slaves
- after about 50 A.D. – slaves did not come from conquest but mainly from
trade or commerce – Roman empire slowed and eventually stopped its
- fear of highway robbery – highway robbers stole money through violence and
either killed the person or sold him/her to a slave trader
- slave trade – sentenced to slavery by the state for criminal activity, born into
slavery, volunteered to become a slave, or sold into slavery
- parents who could not feed their children sold them into slavery – that way
they were at least cared for – were fed, etc.
- unclear how often each of these instances actually occurred
- anyone under patria potestas – the ‘property’ and ruled by the paterfamilias
- Romans were equal opportunity slavers – did not matter the culture,
ethnicity, religion, etc. of their slaves
- Greek philosophy, under Alexander the Great – other civilizations were
created so that Greeks might enslave them – not the case with Romans
- many Roman slaves lived and died without leaving a historical record – those
with records, were the educated slaves
- in essence, there were three kinds of slaves – uneducated slaves used in
labour, uneducated slaves for domestic work, and educated slaves who did
record keeping
- difficult to understand the lives of slaves without extensive records – records
were biased because mainly the well-off, educated slaves left historical
- average slave is worth more in a Roman household – more valuable than a
car in current society
Technical or Scientific View
- Varro – Roman scholar – attempt to be as scientific as possible
- writes about the types of property – tools
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