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On this page: Sescunx – Sesquiplares – Sestertium – Sestertius


year. They also got a small quantity of wine with an additional allowance on the Saturnalia and Compitalia (Cato, R. R. 57), and sometimes fruit, but seldom vegetables. Butcher's meat seems to have been hardly ever given them.

Under the republic they were not allowed to serve in the army, though after the battle of Can­nae, when the state was in such imminent danger, 8000 slaves were purchased by the state for the army, and subsequently manumitted on account of their bravery. (Liv. xxii. 57, xxiv» 14—16.)

The offences of slaves were punished with severity and frequently the utmost barbarity. One of the mildest punishments was the removal from the familia urbana to the rustica, where they were obliged to work in chains or fetters. (Plant. Moiit. i. 1 18; Ter. PJiorm. ii. 1. 20.) They were fre­quently beaten with sticks or scourged with the whip (of which an account is given under fla-grum), but these were such every-day punishments, that many slaves ceased almost to care for them: thus Chrysalus says (Plant. Baccldd. it 3. 131),

" Si illi sunt virgae ruri, at mihi terguni est domi."

Runaway slaves (fugitivi) and thieves (fures) were branded on the forehead with a mark (stigma), whence they are said to be notati or inscripti. (Mart. viii. 75. 9.) Slaves were also punished by being hung up by their hands with weights sus­pended to their feet (Plant. A sin. ii. 2. 37, 38), or by being sent to work in the Ergastulum or Pistri-juim. [ergastulum ; mola]. The carrying of the furca was a very common mode of punishment. [FuRCA.] The toilet of the Roman ladies was a dreadful ordeal to the female slaves, who were often barbarously punished by their mistresses for the slightest mistake in the arrangement of the hair or a part of the dress. (Ovid. Am. i. 14. 15, Ar. Am. iii. 235; Mart. ii. 66; Juv. vi. 498, &c.)

Masters might work their slaves as many hours in the day as they pleased, but they usually allowed them holidays on the public festivals. At the fes­tival of Saturnus in particular, special indulgences were granted to all slaves, of which an account is given under saturnalia.

There was no distinctive dress for slaves. It was once proposed in the senate to give slaves a distinctive costume, but it was rejected since it •was considered dangerous to show them their Tiiunber. (Sen. de Clem. i. 24.) Male slaves were not allowed to wear the toga or bulla, nor females the stola, but otherwise they were dressed nearly in the same way as poor people, in clothes of a dark colour (pidlati) and slippers (crepidae). (Vestis servilis, Cic. in Pis. 38.)

The rights of burial, however, were not denied to slaves, for as the Romans regarded slavery as an institution of society, deatli was considered to put an end to the distinction between slaves arid free­men. Slaves were sometimes even buried with their masters, and we find funeral inscriptions ad­dressed to the Dii Manes of slaves (Dis Manibus}. It seems to have been considered a duty for amastei to bury his slave, since we find that a person, who buried the slave of another, had a right of action against the master for the expenses of the funeral. (Dig. 11. tit. 7. s. 31,) In 1726 the burial vaults of the slaves belonging to Augustus and Livia were discovered near the Via Appia, where numerous inscriptions were found, which have been illustrated by Bianchini and Gori and give us considerable


Information respecting the different classes of slaves and their various occupations. Other sepulchres of the same time have been also discovered in the neighbourhood of Rome.

(Pignorius, de Sen-is et earum apud Veteres Minister Us ; Popma, de Operis Servo-rum ;, Blair, n Enquiry into the State of Slavery amongst, tfie Romans., Edinburgh, 1833; Becker, Galliis, vol. i. p. 103, &c.)

SESCUNX. [As, p. 140,b.J

SESQUIPLARES and SESQUIPLA'RII, [exercitus, p. 509, a.]

SESTERTIUM, a" place outside Rome, dis~ tant two Roman miles and a half (whence the name) from the Esquiline gate, where slaves and malefactors of the lowest class were put to death (Schol. ad Hor. Epod. 5 ; Pint. Galb. 28 ; in locum (i.e. Sestertium} servilibus poenis sepositum, Tac. Ann. xv. !60).

SESTERTIUS, a Roman coin, which properly belonged to the silver coinage, in which it was one-fourth of the denarius, and therefore equal to 2-^ asses. Ilen^e the name, which is an abbreviation of semis tertius (sc. minimus), the Roman mode of expressing 2^-. (Varro, L.L. v. 173, ed. M tiller ; Festus, s.v.; Plin. II.N. xxxiii. 3. s. 13.) The word.MmwKs is often expressed with .sestertius^ and often it stands alone, meaning sestertius.

Hence the symbol,H S or I I S, which-is used to designate the sestertius. It stands either for L L S (Libra Libra et Semis), or for II S, the two I's merely forming the numeral two (sc. asses or librae), and the whole being in either case equi­valent to dupondius et semis. (Priscian, de Ponder, p. 1347 ; Festus, p. 347, Miiller.)

When the as was reduced to half an ounce, and the number of asses in the denarius was made sixteen instead of ten [As, denarius], the ses­tertius was still \ of the denarius, and therefore contained no longer 2^-, but 4 asses. The old reck­oning of ] 0 asses to the denarius was kept, how­ever, in paying the troops. (Plin. xxxiii. 3. e. 13.) After this change the sestertius was coined in brass as well as in silver ; the metal used for it was that called orichalcum, which was much finer than the common aes, of which the asses were made (Plin. H.N. xxxiv. 2.)

The sum of 1000 sestertii was called sestertium. This was also denoted by the symbol H S, the obvious explanation of which is " I I S (2£) mil-lia ;" but Gronovitis understands it as 2^ pounds of silver (sestertium pondws argenti), which he con­siders to have been worth originally 1000 sestertii, and therefore to have represented this value ever after. (Pec. Vet. i. 4, 11.) The sestertium was al­ways a sum of money, never a coin ; the coin used in the payment of large sums was the denarius.

According to the value we have assigned to tho denarius, up to the time of Augustus, we have

• £ s. d.fartn. the sestertius =0 0 2 *5 the sestertiam ss 8 17 1 after the reign of Augustus

the sestertius =00 1 3:5 the sestertium = 716 3

Taking the earlier value of the sestertius, and neglecting the half farthing, we have 1 sestertius «s two-pence, 6 sestertii ** 1 shilling, and 120 ses­tertii = II. sterling. Hence we get the following very convenient rule : to convert sestertii into

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