The Ancient Library

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On this page: Slaves (continued)



actual requirements, but depended on the luxurious fashions which became more and more prevalent in the last two centuries of the Republic. In older times the house and everything belonging to it was in charge of the cedituus (majordomo, steward), who managed all household affairs, received and spent money, negotiated sales and pur­chases, and disposed of the stores. When the extension of the household made it necessary to keep a special person to control the expenditure, the steward's functions were limited to seeing that the house and furniture were properly cleaned and in a good state. Besides him there were sub­ordinate servants for the various dwellings, the spare rooms for visitors, the shrine of the household gods, the images of the ancestors, the various kinds of furniture, the art collections, and the wardrobe; and there was also a porter (ianttor or osttarius) who, according to an old custom, was chained like a dog. [Suetonius, De Rhet. 3; ColumeHa, 1 pr. § 10; Ovid, AmOres i 6, 1.]

The kitchen was in charge of a special chef, an even more expensive slave than the vilicus; and under him were a host of assis­tants, wood-carriers, market-men, pastry­cooks, etc. The service at table also neces­sitated a numerous attendance of dressers, servers, carvers, fore-tasters, cup-bearers, table-clearers, and others, who similarly were under a special foreman, the tricllnlarcha, who saw to the general arrangements and to the lighting. The master and mistress of the house were served by special valets (cublcularli), who also had to announce visitors, and pages and chambermaids and special servants for the bath and the toilette. It was considered of especial importance that, when the master or mistress of the house left it on foot or in a litter, the slaves following them should be numerous and richly attired. Some slaves went before their master (anteambulones), especially the nomenclator, who informed his master of the names of the persons they met; others followed (pgduiqui); others again were told off for attending their master with torches and lanterns on leaving parties in the evening. The litter of each member of the family was carried by from six to eight lectlcarii, particularly strong men, and by preference Cappadocians. For travelling across country there was always a large escort, consisting of crowds of equerries, outriders, grooms, etc.. The most important position among the servants was occupied by those whom the master himself chose to

assist him in his business or his recreations; as for instance those who attended to money matters and to the supervision of the slaves, secretaries, physicians, readers at meals or during the bath or before going to sleep, literary men, librarians, and transcribers of books. For other kinds of recreation there were also slaves who had received a musical training, pantomlmi, fools, and jesters.

The various classes of slaves had each its special foreman, with a substitute whom he either received from his master, or

| bought with his savings. These formed the class of the ordln&rli^ who enjoyed the special confidence of their master ; this class included such servants as looked after the food, clothing, and medical atten­dance of the slaves, the maintenance and

I watching of the various buildings, the accounts of the household (cellarlus), and the expenses of the master (dispcnsator}. Young slaves were trained for the various requirements of the household; according to their abilities, they were taught some trade or art, or had practice given them either in keeping accounts or in learned studies. Under the Empire, those who were destined to be pages received their education in special pceddgSgla or establishments, kept not only by the emperor, but also by private citizens. As in Greece, trained slaves were established in some trade by themselves, or let out on hire: such was the case even with slaves who were artists or men of learning. Even posts of independence, such as the administration of an estate in the country, or of a bank, or the command of a ship, were entrusted to slaves, who received a share in the profits, or paid interest on the capital invested, or a fixed sum of money when the capital was their own. For the slaves were allowed to acquire a private fortune (pgcullum) from what they saved on their allowances and from the regular profits of their service. The masters re­garded this arrangement with favour, espe­cially as it represented a kind of caution money in case any damage was done.

The Roman slave was, in the eyes of the law, a mere chattel, and hence absolutely without any rights and completely exposed to the caprice of his master. The latter could compel him to do the meanest and most shameful things, could torture or kill him, or cast him out when he was old or weakly; and as this treatment was legally permitted, it was carried out in practice when occasion

! offered. Special cruelty was experienced by

| the country-slaves, who worked in chains in

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