Posted by: constantinakatsari | November 22, 2012

Slavery is revolting

The main area of study that I was looking forward to learning more about was slave revolts, but sadly, the first of these seminars was cancelled due to illness. The reason why I am so fascinated by this aspect of History is because large-scale revolts were very rare, which on first consideration is surprising. I think it is the fact that I would like to think slave revolts occurred more frequently, purely on the basis of how they were treated and how hard they had to work. If I were a slave, I would definitely deliberate either running away or plot to kill my master, as the life of a slave would be overshadowed by the rest of the living as they did not matter. The question posed in a seminar a couple of weeks back asked whether I would rather be a slave in Ancient Rome or America. Without hesitation it would be Rome; it was easier to become free in the Roman world, there was a more extensive variety of jobs a slave could do, and most importantly, you were treated as part of a ‘familia’ as opposed to just a worker. Undoubtedly, as I am a woman I would have probably been the sexual object of my owner in both scenarios, but I have resigned myself to the fact that there would have been no way out of this, after all, I would be there to do exactly what my master wanted me to do, whenever he wanted me. I understand that men were more likely to revolt, or at least be in charge of a rebellion, but many more female slaves must have wanted to flee, particularly if they were raped and beaten.

Slave revolts would have been an unpleasant ordeal for their owner, and would have often had an unpleasant outcome for the slaves. The most renowned rebellion in South America was headed by Nat Turner, and resulted in the death of over 50 white men, however, still ended with the execution of around 200 blacks, with Turner included. The Third Servile War, known as the ‘War of Spartacus’ by Plutarch, lasted for two years; and though they did manage to defeat some Roman legions, they did not gain support from provinces and were eventually crushed at the Battle of the Siler River. This is the key element as to why slave revolts on the whole did not succeed; they failed to persuade allies outside of the slave community to join their cause. This would have been because slavery was considered part of everyday life in the American South and Roman antiquity. For American History in particular, the fear of slaves revolting that would have been created in the minds of slave owners would have certainly been the equivalent of the anger and possibly hatred the slaves expressed towards their owners. I do as a result of this feel a little sympathy for some of the slave owners, as they probably suffered from paranoia and anxiety, not as much as the slaves, but near the torment that slaves were under. This therefore is why I named my blog ‘slavery is revolting’. Not only was it a disgusting practise that began over a thousand years ago, it turned people who should have been equal against each other. It also makes me hate the fact that I am part of a world where this existed, and to an extent, still exists.

Nicola Dexter



  1. Lovely expression. Just sharing how I feel the shame of slavery.

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