The slavery in Rome (part 2).

Slaves were purchased in Roman squares and forums. Their price depended on their traits and skills, e.g. nationality, culture, age, beauty, knowledge of Greek and oddities, like being a dwarf. Slaves who came from overseas countries had a foot painted in white, while defeated soldiers had a small crown. Mähmaschine
But how much did a slave cost? According to the historical sources, a slave could cost between 1.200 and 2.500 sestertius. And how much is a sestertius worth? Historians say that, at the end of the Republican age (27 b.C), a sestertius is worth 2 €. People who were not rich could afford a slave, so who could not have the money for a slave was really poor. According to the Roman writer Strabo, the biggest slaves’ market was on the Delo Island in Greece, where traders negotiated about 10.000 slaves every day.
Slaves worked both in houses and in farms. They could be farm hands, breeders, woodworkers and gardeners in the countryside, where they were almost exploited. Nevertheless in the city their working conditions were better than in the countryside; here slaves were philosophers, writers, historians, artisans, teachers, singers and actors. The masters appreciated slaves who spoke Greek because they could teach it to their children. Moreover, some of them taught slaves to count, so that they could help their owners.fabbro
Now I am going to distinguish between some kinds of slaves.
A) Slaves in charge to serve during meals.
captor: in charge to cut the meat;
scissor: in charge to cut the food;
analecta: in charge to pick up the left-overs;
scoparius: in charge to hand the left-overs out to the guests;
cellarius: in charge to hand foods and drinks out;
structor: in charge to set and clear the table;
cocus: the chef;
pistor: the baker;
puer a cyatho: the cupbearer for a certain guest;
puer ad pedes: the slave who seats close to a guest and is in charge to serve him for everything;
B) Slaves responsible with housekeeping.
archimagirus: the butler who governs the other slaves;
ostiarius: the doorman;
atriensis: the slave who greets the guests saying “dextro pede“, because Romans believed that coming in the house with the right foot brought good luck;
cubicularius: responsible with the room service;
minister: a servant;
C) Slaves in charge to rule the master’s business.
arcarius: the treasurer;
amanuensis: copyst;
dispensator: the slave who looks after the books;
sumptuarius: the accountant;
actor or procurator: a manager;
bibliothecarius: the librarian;
anagnostes: the slave who reads and translates Greek writing;
lector: the reader;
servus a codicillis: the slave who writes what the master is dictating;
– librarius: a secretary;
notarius: the slave who writes down what the master says while he is walking;
scriba: in charged with mail;


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