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on December 6, 2010
This book is a slim, short book on slavery in the Roman world. How did it work in society? Where did the slaves come from and what jobs did they do? How were they treated and what conditions did they live under? Did time and historical events change the view point of society towards slaves? Did Christians and Stoics treat slaves better than other Masters?
It is amazing how many questions are asked and answered within the covers of a book with only about 200 pages. Yet a must to start with if you are interested in slavery in the ancient world or during the time of Rome.
Some of the answers, like the fact that the Church made things even harder on slaves or that working along side a slave, for example in making a road, was not an issue with paid labor as there was no job really linked to slavery. If you happened to work along side slaves, in other words, it did not reflect badly on you! No subjects complained about doing slave's work because there was no such division.
And as the early Christians saw themselves as slaves to the Master, in other words followers of the Lord, they preached the idea that slaves should work hard and they would be rewarded in the afterlife. So Christian Masters could be just as cruel as Pagan Masters towards their slaves!
I would also suggest the following books, if you wished to complete your picture of the Roman world. First get and read From the Gracchi to Nero: History of Rome from 133 B.C.to A.D.68 (University Paperbacks) to get an overview of Roman history. Then I would also get, if you wish to fill in the details both Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games and The Corn Supply of Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press academic monograph reprints).
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on November 17, 2007
An excellent introduction to Slavery in what the author calls "the central period", namely 200 bc-ad 200, though he does go over a bit and examines Christianity and slavery (c. ad400). It's enough to note that Christianity did little to change the attitude of Romans to slavery; but actually cemented the anodyne belief that one was already spiritually free if one was "free in his/her heart". Go tell that one to a suffering slave!
This book is an excellent and entertaining read, with a controversial twist: he brings in at critical points information from new world slavery, especially Latin America. I find this most rewarding, though some classicists may take umbrage. You may avoid the last two chapters: they appear to be filler to round out the book. "Slavery and progress" since there wasn't much to speak of and the last one on the evils of slavery is repetitive.
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on April 24, 2015
A concise description of he treatment and lives of slaves in roam. Very readable and full of interesting information.
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