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Lecture 4

CLA233 Lecture 4 Notes

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Michael J.Dewar

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 expansion - 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 records - 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 - articulate tools – tool with a voice – slaves - inarticulate tools – cattle, livestock, etc. - the mute tools – cannot speak – carts, spades, etc. - however humanized slavery may have been, they were merely tools, like a cart – slaves had as much legal standing as a cow or a cart A Pragmatic View - Cato the Elder – agricultural manual - farm’s primary purpose is not to make a profit – but to feed the family - in the mind of Cato – a slave is on the same level as an old spade – something to sell if it has no more value – sell an old slave, etc. to at least make some profit out of it - holding on to an old slave – considered nice but might mean that children may go hungry if farm does not produce too much - very pragmatic view – advice primarily designed for people with smaller farms A Sadistic View - however, some Romans were quite sadistic – not the norm – considered horrifying to most - lamprey eels – delicacy to Romans - slaves sentenced to death – executed or made a gladiator – handed over to state authority - Vedius Pollio • considered cruel and severe • exercised patria potestas – therefore no measures taken to prevent his crue
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