We continue our look at Roman slavery (and this will be the last week on 'personal freedom').
We will spend at least part if not all of Tuesday finishing up looking at the Wiedemann readings from last week -- so please look back at last week's assignment for the links to those four chapters. Then I want to glance briefly at some 'letters' by two Roman aristocrats living under the reign of Nero (Seneca) and Trajan (Pliny the Younger) respectively. You've read some Pliny already (Panegyricus); Seneca is new, but important for (among many other things) his perspective on Roman slavery:
Seneca the Younger (ca. 4 BC – AD 65, prominent in court of Nero), Letters 47, 51, and 77 (trans. Gummere). You may find translations of these letters HERE.
Pliny the Younger (AD 61 – ca. 113, prominent under Trajan), Letters 3.14 and 8.16 (trans. Radice). Click HERE for a (fuzzy) pdf of these two letters (they're short, and on one page)
On Thursday we turn back to Patterson, with one final stop in a very celebrated text, Petronius' Satyricon and the 'Dinner with Trimalchio' episode (please be sure to read my blurb in the 'To think about' section below). Between the two we'll be looking with Patterson at personal freedom generally under the Empire, but in the context of the rise of the Roman freedman. With the Petronius (whom Patterson mentions briefly), we'll take a closer look at one of the more famous descriptions of an imperial freedman, the status that gives rise to the title of Patterson's Chap. 13.:
Patterson, Chap. 13, 'The Triumph of the Roman Freedman: Personal Liberty among the Urban Masses of the Early Empire'
Petronius, 'The Dinner of Trimalchio', from the Satyricon. Click HERE for a pdf of this text.
The issues I raise here are in fact issues you're asked to address in the Paper assignment this week, for which you have two options (one on the Letters, one on the Petronius):
With respect to the letters: These letters are well known for their reflections on freedom and slavery. They represent the perspective of two extremely well known Roman aristocrats from the first century of the Principate. As you will see, slaves and slavery appear in all five letters -- how much do you actually learn about slaves and slavery from these letters?
With respect to the Petronius: The Satyricon is an unusual text, written by a man usually identified with a courtier by the same name and a friend of the emperor Nero. It is considered by some to be the first 'novel' in Western literature (and it is indeed unique in Latin Literature). We are going to focus on the most celebrated section, the so-called 'Dinner of Trimalchio'. Trimalchio is said to be an enormously wealthy freedman living near Pompeii at the time of the emperor Nero. Social historians caution that Trimalchio is a literary fiction, and the degree to which Petronius' portrait is an accurate rendition of a typical freedman is debatable. Nonetheless, even allowing for exaggeration, the text does give us an interesting glimpse into some of the things that mattered to someone in Trimalchio's position and well as of his household. I want us to focus not so much (or solely) on Trimalchio, but rather on his own slaves: how T. treats them, what we see them doing, what we learn about them, etc.
As for Patterson: this chapter covers some stuff that will be familiar to you, but it's most interesting point is that the 'freedman' in Roman society -- and especially in the early imperial period -- is an indicator of the value Romans still placed on libertas, even long after the Republic had disappeared. I will be interested to see if you find Patterson persuasive on this point.