The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Slaves (continued)



use of the g3*mnasia and from the assem­blies of the people. Manumissions were not rare, especially those made by a clause in the owner's will, or if a slave bought hig freedom with the savings made by permission of his master; sometimes manu­mission was a reward for giving information about grave crimes, or for distinguished service in war; for slaves were not un-frequently employed in military service, especially in the fleet as rowers and sailors, or as marines. For the position of the liberated slaves, see freedmen. At Athens there was also a special class of public slaves. Chief among them were those called Scython or archers, at first 300, then 600, and finally even 1,200; the name Speuslnil was also given them from acertain Speusmus, who is said to have established this institu­tion [Pollux, viii 132, and Etymologicum Magnum], They served as police, and their office was at first on the market-place, and afterwards on the Areopagus. They were further employed for military purposes, like the similar corps, also consisting of public slaves, of 200 mounted archers (hippdtoxStce). The lower servants of the State officials, such as criers, scribes, beadles, gaol-keepers, hangmen, were mostly (the last mentioned always) public slaves, and so were the workmen at the mint. Their position was one of much greater freedom than that of the private slaves, and did not differ greatly from that of the m&t&ci.

(II) The Romans, like the Greeks, pos­sessed slaves from the earliest times; but their number was at first trifling, on account of the small households of the old Romans, and their simple manner of life. But great estates gradually became frequent, and slaves were used by preference for agricul­tural work, because they were not subject to levy for military service. Luxury became more general, and a number of wants, pre­viously unknown, were created by it; and in process of time the custom of employing slaves for industrial purposes was bor­rowed from the Greeks. All this caused a continual increase in the number of slaves, until in some cases they were collected in several thousands. Some of these were born in the house, and were called vernce ; they were regarded as particularly faithful and trustworthy, and enjoyed certain liber­ties accordingly. The remainder were for the most part acquired among the spoils of war, or were introduced from other coun­tries where slaves were kept. Those taken in war were sold by the quaestor either on

the spot immediately or at the nearest market-place, or, according to the technical terms, either sub hasta (under the lance) or sub corona (under the wreath, which was placed on the head of captives in war to show that they were for sale). For this pur­pose slave-dealers, whose profitable trade was regarded with contempt, were always represented in the train of Roman armies. They also bought slaves in great numbers at the principal slave-marts, as at Rome and Delos. At Rome the aediles superin­tended this kind of business, on which the ! government levied a tax for import and a , further tax on the sale. The slave was placed on a platform, with his feet whitened with chalk or gypsum, if he had just come across the sea, and with a label round his neck, showing his home, age, abilities, and bodily defects, if any, the vendor being responsible for the correctness of these statements ; if he would not bind himself in any such way, this was shown by placing a cap (pilleus) on the slave's head. Slaves distinguished for their beauty, their skill, or their literary or musical ac­complishments, were not exhibited publicly, but in special places, and to such as were able to pay the prices for them, which fre­quently ran very high. Those born in the house were also sold by private agreement, without being exposed. There were slaves of every nationality, and on this depended in general the names by which they were called and the work which was assigned them. Thefcimtlla (a designation including all the slaves, or famuli, belonging to the same master) was generally divided into that of the country (familia rusftca) and that of the town (familia urbana).

The work done by the slaves was of the most varied character, and the great diver­sity of their occupations is partly explained by the fact that almost every kind of work required a special slave, and it was con­sidered not consistent with good breeding, and a sign of poverty, if the same slave was entrusted with several different duties. Thus there were in the country special slaves for the various branches of agricul­ture, horticulture, and the tending of cattle, the cultivation of olives and vines, the keeping of bees and of poultry, and for the preserves and fishponds. These slaves were under the supervision of the vlltcus (farm-bailiff) or actor (steward), who had to render the accounts to the master or his representative. The number of town-slaves was not due to

About | First | Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.