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Ancient Slavery

  • Date Submitted: 04/10/2011 01:47 PM
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Western Civilization to 1715
November 12, 2010

Slavery was a crucial factor in the development of western civilization.   Slavery in the ancient world greatly differs, yet contrasts with that of the early modern world.   When comparing these time periods, one should consider aspects such as race, the influence of commerce and consumption, the roles of slaves in society, slave law and treatment and so on and so forth.   For all of these features plays a significant role in comparing and contrasting slavery in both ancient and modern world.

In the ancient world, slaves were assigned to all kinds of work.   Their labors were vital in sustaining the luxury of the upper roman class. In fact, a slave was considered legally to be a piece of property, not a person with normal citizen rights. A slaves value in the market place was ultimately determined by aspects including age, sex,   religion, skills, ethnic origin, demeanor, appearance, and personal character.   Normally, the status of a slave was heredity.   However, a person may be enslaved for a debt or as a penalty for a crime.   The Roman war machine created hundreds of thousands of slaves during the final centuries of the Republic and the early centuries of the Imperial age. During the Republic, the people of Rome were notably cruel towards slaves.   That is until the influence of the Greek Stoic philosophy got across the governing class.   Prior to that, however, little was done to protect slaves from the power of the Roman masters. Diodorus Sirculus, a Greek historian, describes the treatment of the Roman slaves and then tells about that revolts by the slaves that lasted from 135 to 132 B.C.  
“…by virtue of their bodily strength and their persevering souls, suffer such hardships over a long period; indeed death in their eyes is more desired than life, because of the magnitude of the hardships they must bear.”   (Sirculus, Diodorus. “Slaves: Torment and Revolt.”   Perry Volume 1. 2006: Pg. 78-79.)
The treatment...

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