29 October 2008

A Typical Roman : Slave (Greek)

(This is the first post of a four part series on Roman life. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stand in someone else's shoes? How about a Roman citizen, a thirteen year old bride, an emperor? Just in case you've ever wondered, read the below and following updates! :)

...In Rome slaves were considered property. They had no rights and were not considered to be citizens. But they did have the opportunity for a good life if they happened to be in the right position at the right time. A galley slave could have little hope of living, let alone comfort; a mining slave was beaten and maltreated until death was welcome. But for many slaves life could be good, even privileged. What would your life have been like if you were a Greek slave?

...Greek slaves were valued above the average lot because the Romans admired the Greek civilization. Greeks were usually well educated, talented, smart, and trustworthy. As a result Greek slaves were snapped up off the market and placed in wealthy household positions. The upper class bought Greeks to be their physicians, tutors, household managers and even farm holders! A slave in a wealthy family could even became influential and respected.

...Sometimes owners gave their slaves wages; after a while the slave could buy his freedom, or choose to invest in his own business or small farm. Freed slaves formed a good portion of the wealthier middle class, running successful businesses and owning their own slaves. Most household slaves, especially Greeks, were not treated as inferior. They were respected and well cared for. Parents trusted them with their childrens education and safety. It is hard to imagine a society where slavery was accepted and normal, where slaves were even viewed as respectable and honorable in many cases. Yet in many Roman circles it was so, and Greek slaves were usually very respected, vauable, members of society.

1 comment:

Christopher Posner said...

The literary evidence suggests that galley slaves hardly existed at all in Roman times. If slaves were employed in the galleys they would probably be promised their freedom.
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