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Roman Slavery

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ROMAN SLAVERY When the Romans conquered the Mediterranean, they took millions of slaves to Italy, where they toiled on the large plantations or in the houses and workplaces of wealthy citizens. The Italian economy depended on abundant slave labour, with slaves making up 40 percent of the population. Enslaved people with talent, skill, or beauty commanded the highest prices, and many served as singers, scribes, jewellers, bartenders, and even doctors. One slave trained in medicine was worth the price of 50 agricultural slaves. The young slaves and women were sold but with higher prices on them. Most young slaves where probably sent off to different estates every month and as years went by and still very strong to pull over hard labour tasks, some were set free later on by the masters and if some were owned by an old master. It might have been possible the young slave could take over his possessions, wealth, and business. ...read more.


The slave, viewed as a human, was allowed to manage some personal property called a peculium. This peculium could consist of a myriad of things including money and a slave's slave called a vicariu. The slave in many ways could use the peculium, but the slave was restricted in that all contracts entered by the slave involved the master, and the slave could not give his peculium to someone else so that the other person might use it to buy the slave's freedom. The slave could save peculium and buy its freedom, but this usually only happened when the peculium outweighed the slave's value. The ius sacrum, on the other hand, allowed the slaves to practice certain aspects of religion, to be properly buried and to join certain religious associations. If a slave attempted any way of escaping and succeeded but was caught later on, a harsh punishment might be given to him but it would basically depend on the master's choice. ...read more.


The old masters as patrons must respect the right of succession, right to respect, and the reasonable amount of days worked. In terms of succession, if the freed person has male heirs, the patron will get no money, but if the freed person does not have any male heirs, the patron will get half of the acquired fortune. The right to respect merely refers to the fact that the former master must treat the freed person as a freed person and not a slave, while the proper amount of days worked varied, but should not be overly hard. The former master may also take on the role of the paterfamilias to the new Informal manumission did not grant the freedman Roman citizenship, and at his death any accumulated property reverted to his former owner. Former slaves could work as craftsmen, midwives, and merchants, and sometimes-achieved wealth. But, in Rome's status conscious world, even successful freedmen found the stigma of slavery hard to erase. A.M.D.G Classical Civilization Coursework 6/2/02 ...read more.

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