1. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    Roman Slaves

    Discussion in 'Research' started by MissPomegranate, Sep 29, 2010.

    This might be a long shot, but I was wondering if anyone here knew a bit about the lives in slaves in ancient Rome? Specifically young female slaves in the city, but any info will help!

    I've tried Google, but I've gotten very vague answers and most of it I already knew from my history and Latin classes.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    http://www.richeast.org/htwm/greeks/romans/slavery/slavery2.html

    Does this help?

    What type of slave is your character? House servant, laborer, etc? Prisoner of war, or born into it?

    It also depends on the temperament of the slaveowning family. Some were treated well, others were treated horribly.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you give me the time period and what you want to know. I can see if I can dig out an essay - if not I can advise some books.

    -Charlotte
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try reading 'The first man in Rome' or the second in the series, 'The Grass Crown' by Colleen McCullough. She goes into amazing detail about all aspects of life in ancient Rome.

    They are a bit epic in length, though.
     
  5. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    Mallory, that link did help a bit! My character is a young girl household slave in the city during the 1st century. I need to know what she would be doing, and what she could get away with.

    She's pretty much based on the slave character in old Roman plays; an intelligent and wily character who's always playing tricks but very loyal to the hero of the story. I just want to make sure the shenanigans she gets herself into will seem realistic; something someone in her position could actually get away with.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ok will go hunting might be worth a search for Up Pompeii it is a comedy about a Roman Slave.
     
  7. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    Thank you, Elgaisma!
    I'll defiantly try to get my hands on some episodes of Up Pompeii, it seems really funny!
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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  9. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    Oops, I mean definitely...haha. My bad!
     
  10. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As has already been pointed out, the life of a slave, even a city one in one particular century, can still vary quite a bit.


    By narrowing it down to a female household slave, they were often thought of as another member of the family. A male slave-owner may have doted on a female slave, especially a young one. Male Romans had to be careful not to be too affectionate though, the biggest sin a man could commit was being too 'feminine'. Romans were very warlike and macho, so all their sweetness was confined to privacy.

    Many female slaves were also used for sex, Romans had their own taboos, but by our standards, they were hedonists and there were very few exceptions. Except for things like incest and snuff, almost anything went in ancient Rome, even pederasty (it was still borderline taboo but not illegal, and if you were rich or powerful enough you could get away with it). There were rumors that the Emperor Caligula had incestuous affairs with his sister Drusilla, but no one would dare point the finger at him.

    A slave owner had to be careful about affairs with a slave, if he ever got one preganant it could cause problems in the household, as the child of that slave would be half freeman by birth and maybe even an heir to his will if he ever got old enough without being killed by his own freeborn kin.

    The needs and wants of the slave did not matter. Firstly, because a slave was expected to honor their master by doing whatever they wished, to the point where failing to do so brought a sense of shame upon them. Secondly, women were second class citizens in every practical regard since Roman life was very patriarchal, and women were thought of as a burden unless they could be married off or put to work somehow.

    This does not mean that a slave's life was always miserable. A slave in an aristocratic home could live a better and longer life than a freeborn legion veteran living on a settled home on some colony frontier. It was even possible, as a slave, to own great wealth, some land, and slaves of their own (this was sought after even more than freedom).

    Some slaves, like Spartacus, were killed in their attempt to wrestle freedom from slave life. Other slaves, like Epictetus, were born into slavery, but he went on to become a very famous and widely celebrated stoic philosopher. Without Epictetus, much of what we know of stoicism would be lost in the annals of time; even as a slave he was extremely well educated and respected.

    It should be noted also that not all slaves were sex slaves or beasts of burdens, some of them served nanny, midwife, and advisory roles.


    I hope that all this helps. I am an ancient histry buff so had to chime in.:p
     
  11. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    Thank you, jonathan hernandez13, that helped a lot!
     

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