Greek and Roman Slavery

Greek and Roman Slavery

Greek and Roman Slavery

Greek and Roman Slavery

Synopsis

Greek and Roman Slaverybrings together fresh English translations of 243 texts and inscriptions on slavery from fifth and fourth century Greece and Rome. The material is arranged thematically, offering the reader a comprehensive review of the idea and practice of slavery in ancient civilization. In addition, a thorough bibliography for each chapter, as well as an extensive index, make this a valuable source for scholars and students.

Excerpt

In recent years, the study of slavery amongst the Greeks and Romans has increased considerably. Students, and their teachers, have become generally more interested in social and economic questions than in political and military history of the traditional kind. In North America, comparisons and contrasts between the roles and conditions of slaves in the ancient Mediterranean world and in the West Indies and United States have underlain many studies of ancient slavery since the nineteenth century. Another intellectual tradition going back to nineteenth-century presuppositions has also directed attention towards ancient slavery: Marx's analysis of slave-holding as one of the characteristic types of organising an economy (or, in the debased 'vulgar-Marxist' form, one of the economic stages through which all human societies inevitably have to pass). Many of the studies on ancient slavery undertaken in Europe since the war have been initiated either by Marxist scholars, or in response to the questions posed by them. Scholars are agreed that many particular historical problems associated with slavery have yet to be solved before a comprehensive 'account' of Greek and Roman slavery can be written-and that such an analysis will effectively have to be an account of ancient social and economic patterns as a whole.

Simply because slavery was something which affected virtually every aspect of society, ancient references to it are unsystematic and occur in a wide range of sources of different kinds, epigraphical as well as literary. No selection of such sources has hitherto been published, even in the original languages; and it is not always easy for readers interested in social and economic history who do not know Latin and Greek to locate the texts and inscriptions to which books and articles about slavery appeal as their evidence. This selection is intended primarily to assist such readers. It is not intended as a substitute for a systematic treatment of the subject-something altogether more ambitious-and it is assumed that readers will be using it in combination with other books on the subject, or within the framework provided by a school or university course. Hence only a minimal attempt is made to introduce the reader to even the most basic theories about how ancient social and economic institutions functioned, or to explain different interpretations of why slavery was so widespread in Greece and Rome and what roles

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