We continue looking at personal freedom in ancient Rome, turning now to the large and complex topic of slaves and slavery.
→Please note that Quiz #1 is due Thursday, May 9, by 5:00 PM
Tuesday (following a mopping-up operation on Roman law, especially the Augustan social and marriage legislation) we'll cover the Epictetus, the chapter in Shumka (which will give you an overview of Roman slavery), and talk a bit about the Appian (a very short couple of pages on Rome's only major slave revolt):
Epictetus, On Freedom. Click HERE for a pdf of this text.
☞A seminal text for an understanding of libertas in general, On Freedom is especially relevant because its author, Epictetus (ca. AD 55-135), was an ex-slave. As a young man he was a slave to a wealthy freedman of the emperor Nero; after manumission, he went on to have a distinguished career as a well-known philosopher who enjoyed close relations with more than one Roman emperor. On Freedom is practically the only text we have from ancient Rome written by someone who had had the experience of being a slave, and thus his perspective is unique. This text, by the way, is the topic of this week's paper. You might find the good Wikipedia article about him interesting reading.
Leslie Shumka, 'Roman Slavery,' Chap. 5 (pp. 72-93) in Themes in Roman Society and Culture. An Introduction to Ancient Rome, Gibbs, Nikolic, and Ripat, edd. (Oxford 2014). This chapter is the first part of THIS PDF (CLICK HERE)
Appian (our old friend!), The Civil Wars, Book 1.116-121 on the revolt of Spartacus, a slave who led a 'servile war' from 73-71 BC. CLICK HERE FOR A PDF (apologies for the quality of the scan, but it's only a couple of pages).
☞As you read this text, give some thought to why, according to Appian, Spartacus led a slave revolt. What grievances lay behind their actions, in other words? This is in fact one of the most famous episodes in Roman history, not least for the fact that it was one of only two serious revolts by the slave population in all of Rome's history.
For Thursday we will focus on the following reading (and we may or may not get through all of it, though it represents in total only 70 pages of relatively short passages. Please make sure you read my blurb about this book after I tell you what you're reading in it:
Thomas Wiedemann, Greek and Roman Slavery (Routledge 1980), Chaps. 7-10. This book is available to read online (or to download pdfs of individual chapters) through the library. Click HERE to go to that link (assuming this takes you to the correct page, you'll want to follow the link to Ebook Central Academic Complete...if the link doesn't work for you, just search for the book in the UW Library Catalogue). However, I have thoughtfully downloaded the pdfs for you as follows:
Chapter 7: Domestic Slaves and Rural Slaves
Chapter 8: Slaves Owned by the State
Chapter 9: The Treatment of Slaves
Chapter 10: Resistance
About this book: Wiedemann's Greek and Roman Slavery is a sourcebook -- a collection of ancient texts -- that documents slavery in the Greek and Roman world. It is not, therefore, a continuous narrative, but rather a sampling of the primary evidence. These four chapters cover the fundamental aspects of Roman slavery I want us to be familiar with. You may, however, find other sections of the book equally interesting, so I encourage you to browse through the whole book online (see above) just to see what it offers (we'll be reading one other chapter at a later date). Some of the passages in the chapters assigned are about Greek slavery, and you may skip those (it will be obvious which are which).
With respect to the Epictetus: you will see that this text is the subject of this week's paper, and even if you opt not to write this one, please have a look at the assignment and give it some thought. I'll be asking in class on Monday for some reactions to and thoughts about it.
Spartacus: see above for what you should be on the lookout for.
Slavery in general: One thing to realize about Roman slavery is that it is a multi-faceted, complex institution -- there were many, many different kinds of and levels of enslavement. And while it was a very different institution from slavery as practiced in this country (the US), there are still common elements. As you read through the sourcebook, try to think of ways in which Roman slavery differs from what you know about slavery in the US, and ways in which what you read surprises you (or confirms what you already suspected).
If you're interested in learning more about slavery in the Roman world, you might want to listen to a good discussion (about 45 minutes) of the subject by a group of leading scholars and broadcast on BBC 4 (there's also a good bibliography on the subject). CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK.