ROMAN SLAVERY AND FREEDMEN
Ancient Rome, like the antebellum American South, was a society with slaves. Unlike in the American South, Roman slavery was not race-based. Slaves were captives in war, were children of other slaves, were captives of pirates, and were obtained from the long distance slave trade outside of the empire. The slaves worked on farms, in mines, in quarries, in businesses, for the government, and in houses as servants. Compared to the American South, ancient slaves were freed more often. They could be freed by buying their own freedom, by declaration of their owner, and in their owners will. After manumission, a freedman obtained his Roman citizenship but he still had social obligations to his/her former ownernow called his/her patronusand his family. For example, the freedmen had to give a certain amount of their property to the patronus upon the freedmens death. As you might expect, ancient slaves and freedmen occupied a different social position than freeborn Romans. Read these two passages to better understand this social position.
Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum 5.20 (adapted) Cicero wrote many letters to his dear friend Atticus. This particular letter was sent from Cilicia, the southeastern part of Asia Minor, where Cicero was governor to Atticus in Rome. It begins with a description of Ciceros governorship and then moves onto a discussion of public affairs in Rome. Cicero Attico sal(utat). Saturnalibus (17 Dec. 51 B.C.E.) mane se mihi Pindenissitae dediderunt septimo et quinquagesimo die postquam oppugnare eos coepimus. 'qui malum! isti Pindenissitae qui sunt?' inquies; 'nomen audivi numquam.' Post Ephesum veneram, iter feci ad multas urbes ubi ius dixi. Inde in castra veni a. d. VII Kalendas Septembris (24 Aug 51 B.C.E). Quod exercitus cum me audivit rumorem de Parthis, inde ad Amanum contendi qui Syriam a Cilicia dividit; qui mons erat hostium Pindenissitarum plenus. hic a. d. iii Idus Octobr (13 Oct 51 B.C.E.). magnum numerum hostium occidimus. Interim Bibulus in eodem Amano cohortem primam totam perdidit centurionemque primi pili nobilem sui generis Asinium Dentonem et reliquos cohortis eiusdem et Sex. Lucilium, T. Gavi Caepionis locupletis et splendidi hominis filium, tribunum militum. hilara sane Saturnalia militibus quoque quibus reliquam praedam concessimus. mancipia venibant Saturnalibus tertiis (19 Dec. 51 B.C.E.). Cum haec scribebam, in tribunali res erat ad HS CXX. Questions to consider 1. What is Ciceros opinion of Asinius Dento and Sextus Lucilius who died in battle? 2. Cicero reports the sale of slaves. What information does he give about the slaves? Can
you infer where the slaves are from? 3. TRUE or FALSE: Ciceros report of the slaves essentially dehumanizes them. 4. Compare and contrast Ciceros opinion of the dead Roman soldiers to his report about
Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 7.29 (adapted) Pliny the Younger was a politician and senator of the early second century C.E. and he published a collection of his letters. In this letter, he discusses his reaction to seeing a monument dedicated to Pallas, a freedman of the emperor Claudius (r. 41-54 C.E.). Pallas was so influential and powerful that the Senate honored him. C. Plinius Montano suo s(cribit) Ridebis, deinde indignaberis, deinde ridibis, si legeris, quod nisi legeris non potes credere. Est via Tiburtina intra primum lapidem proxime adnotavi monumentum Pallantis liberti ita inscriptum: Huic Senatus ob fidem pietatemque erga patronos ornamenta praetoria decrevit et sestertium centies quinquagies, cuius honore contentus fuit. Equidem fortuna saepe me obstupefacit. Maxime tamen hic me titulus admonuit: mimica et inepta esse quae in hoc caenum, in has sordes abiciuntur, et quae denique ille furcifer et recipere audiebat et recusare. Sed quid indignor? Ridere satis qui tantam felicitatem habent. Vale. Questions to consider 1. In another letter (8.6, also to Montanus), Pliny provides another reaction to this same
monument. In letter 8.6, Pliny reacts negatively to the senators who debased themselves by honoring a freedman. In this letter, 7.29, to whom is Pliny reacting negatively?
2. How does Pliny mock this person (who is your answer to number 1)? Why?