Slavery in Ancient Rome

Slavery in Ancient Rome


Slavery in Ancient Rome





















Rome as far research show had always exploited slaves, however during the early Republic Rome saw its slave population multiply significantly from a series of wars and conquests. This paper will discuss the rights and responsibilities of Roman slaves during the Republican era and early empire.   It will also analyze the impact slavery had on Rome’s economic situation as well the impact on roman society and culture. Rome did not always have such an abundance of slaves. It was not until they conquered Corinth and sacked Carthage did they amass a significant amount of slaves. Some authors estimate that the number of slaves reached 300 000-350 000 in a total population of 900 000- 950 000 in Rome during the Augustan era.[1] It is of course impossible to determine the exact amount of slaves during this time, but nevertheless this estimate of slaves is still one third of the population. The Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage mark the beginning of Rome’s “addiction” to slavery. After Rome had consolidated the main land of what is now Italy, this brought them into contact with much greater powers. The first Punic War (264-241 B.C) began when both Rome and Carthage took interest in Sicily.[2] Herodotus notes the significance of this first of many battles by comparing it to the battle of Salamis. He states, “They say too, that the victory of Gelo and Thero in Sicily over Hamilcar the Carthaginians tell out upon the very day that the Hellenes defeated the Persians at Salamis.” (Hdt. 7. 166.)[3] Gaining Sicily was a significant and integral part of Rome’s consolidation and pacifying its surrounding area. Moreover, Sicily was centered in the middle of the two trade regions that they dominated. Even without any other redeeming value, this would make it worth fighting over. In addition, there were several large ports on Sicily which could provide a significant source of revenue to whoever get to tax them.[4] Rome fought two more...

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