The slavery in Rome (part 1)

Hello to everyone! First, I would like to beg off on my absence. I was studying in Vancouver and then when I came back to Italy I had an exam of International Law. But now it’s all alright and I am going to start writing on my blog again! Today I’m going to write about slavery. According to the Ancient Roman jurist Gaius, there are three kinds of tools: tools that do not speak nor move; tools that move but do not speak (animals); tools that move and speak (slaves). So, according to Romans’ opinion, slaves were only tools. As a consequence, slaves were sold and purchased like we buy clothes today. They were only “animated things”. But slaves were absolutely important for the Ancient Roman society and economy, as Ancient Roman laws dealt with this institution.209

After this introduction, let’s see how people could become slaves according to the Roman law. There were in fact some causes like:
– prisoners of war. People that were defeated in wars were taken as slaves owned by the State and then sold to the best bidders;
– indebtedness. When people couldn’t face their debts, they became assets owned by their creditors;
– crimes that carried the loss of personal freedom, like tax evasion or murders;
– people that couldn’t pay a pecuniary penalty;
– kidnapping by bandits or pirates;
– being sons or daughers of a mother who was slave herself;
– slaves who thought that their master was unfair could go on the Capitol Hill and explain their motivations;
– slaves had the right of asylum, if they took refuge in a temple. Anyway they could change master at most;
– if a citizen killed a slave, he/she didn’t have to face a criminal penalty, but only to pay a fine;
– according to the Lex Iulia, rape and adultery concerned only relationships between free people, not slaves;
– according to the Lex Petronia, the master couldn’t throw a slave to the wild beasts without a judgement;
– as a punishment, slaves were sold to schools of gladiators in order to fight in arenas;
– slaves could follow their original religious rituals;
– the Roman master who treated slaves rudely had a very bad reputation. According to the Roman culture, fathers had to be fair and generous with their families (which included also the slaves in that time);


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