SLAVERY AND EMPIRE
Aiming to reconcile a population that was scattered and primitive—so
quick to take up arms—to a peaceful and leisured existence by providing
luxurious amenities, he gave private encouragement and public assist-
ance to them to build temples, market places and urban mansions, prais-
ing those who were quick to do so, and criticizing those who were slow.
This way a competition for honour took the place of compulsion. He
provided the sons of the chiefs with a proper education, and he praised
the natural aptitude of the Britons over the hard work of the Gauls, so
those who had refused to learn Latin, began to acquire oratorical skills.
Even our national style of dress became popular; the toga was often to be
seen. And little by little they were led towards those things that encour-
age vice, colonnades, bathing and elegant banquets. In their inexperience
they took all this for civilization; in fact it was part of their enslavement.
(Tacitus, Agricola 21)
Every empire bears the mark of the kind of society that creates it. Nomad empires like that of the Mongols ruled through tribes and clans. The British Empire began as a trading venture, was conquered and governed by members of the aristocracy, and was administered by a colonial bureaucracy staffed from the professional middle-classes.1 Each of these social groups left