Posted by: constantinakatsari | March 14, 2010

Roman Slavery Essays

The time is neigh for the submission of the first Roman Slavery Essays in our module. The students have been working diligently around three major topics that count for 40 % of their grade:

1)      The exploitation of female slaves in the Roman world

2)      What were the sources of slaves during the Roman Republic and during the Empire?

3)      What was the role of the Familia Caesaris in the Imperial administration?

You probably noticed that all of the above topics are not suitable for comparisons with the Antebellum American South. First of all, we have a massive amount of information from the South on female slaves that cannot be matched with the information from the Roman world. With regard to the second topic, the sources of slaves in the Mediterranean are not only different from Atlantic slavery but they also change from the Republic to the Empire. This way, any attempt to comparison can be too complicated at an undergraduate level. As for the study of the role of Familia Caesaris, it is self evident that nothing of the sort existed in the Antebellum South.

So, why have I asked my students to deal with the above topics? The main idea behind it is to make them familiar with several aspects of Roman slavery that are not directly covered during our seminars. In addition, once they study the above topics in depth, they will be able to better evaluate and appreciate, not only the similarities that have been noted repeatedly during the course, but also the differences between the Roman and the nineteenth century American world.

I do not discourage them, of course, from attempting to bring forward comparative points. At this point, though, these should be restricted to a few lines and they should not be expanded into a full comparative study. After all, the purpose of the second essay, which counts for 60 % of the final grade, is to compare and contrast directly the two slave systems.


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