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Slavery and Society at Rome (Key Themes in Ancient History) [Paperback]

Keith Bradley

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Book Description

5 Nov 1998 Key Themes in Ancient History
This book, first published in 1994, is concerned with discovering what it was like to be a slave in the classical Roman world, and with revealing the impact the institution of slavery made on Roman society at large. It shows how and in what sense Rome was a slave society through much of its history, considers how the Romans procured their slaves, discusses the work roles slaves fulfilled and the material conditions under which they spent their lives, investigates how slaves responded to and resisted slavery, and reveals how slavery, as an institution, became more and more oppressive over time under the impact of philosophical and religious teaching. The book stresses the harsh realities of life in slavery and the way in which slavery was an integral part of Roman civilisation.

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" should quickly become a standard reference work." History

"Belongs in every college and seminary library." Religious Studies Review

"While he documents such objective aspects of slavery as the sources of new slaves, the mechanics of sale and manumission, the material aspects of slave life such as food, clothing, and housing, and the types of rewards and punishments, he also performs the more difficult, original and compelling task of determining how these conditions were subjectively experienced by the slaves themselves. That he handles these complex issues so well in a highly readable book of only 202 pages is a testament to his skill as both a writer and a scholar." New England Classical Journal

"...he [Bradley] provides a wealth of historical evidence to support his claim. For philosophers, Bradley provides a rich ore that will help illuminate and recast much of the tradition. ...Bradley's work is exceptionally fruitful. He masterfully intertwines a rich narrative suitable for non-specialists with abundant citations that should sate more advanced readers. The work is both entertaining and informative, and for those reasons, highly recommended." Canadian Philosophical Reviews

"This is an excellent introduction to Roman slavery and the best textbook-style work on the subject currently available. Obtaining the rights for translations into other languages should be high on the agenda of attentive academic publishers worldwide." Phoenix

"An excellent introduction to Roman slavery, the book will also serve as a sobering corrective to any attempt to palliate slavery in any society." R.I. Curtis, Choice

Book Description

This book, first published in 1994, shows how and in what sense Rome was a slave society through much of its history, considers how the Romans procured their slaves, discusses the work roles slaves fulfilled and the material conditions under which they spent their lives, and investigates how slaves responded to and resisted slavery.

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In the late spring of 53 BC the Roman orator and politician M. Tullius Cicero received a letter from his brother Quintus who was then occupied with Julius Caesar in the conquest of Gaul. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good beginner's book 7 Dec 2010
By Michael Valdivielso - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a slim, short book on slavery in the Roman world. How did it work in society? Where did the slaves come from and what jobs did they do? How were they treated and what conditions did they live under? Did time and historical events change the view point of society towards slaves? Did Christians and Stoics treat slaves better than other Masters?
It is amazing how many questions are asked and answered within the covers of a book with only about 200 pages. Yet a must to start with if you are interested in slavery in the ancient world or during the time of Rome.
Some of the answers, like the fact that the Church made things even harder on slaves or that working along side a slave, for example in making a road, was not an issue with paid labor as there was no job really linked to slavery. If you happened to work along side slaves, in other words, it did not reflect badly on you! No subjects complained about doing slave's work because there was no such division.
And as the early Christians saw themselves as slaves to the Master, in other words followers of the Lord, they preached the idea that slaves should work hard and they would be rewarded in the afterlife. So Christian Masters could be just as cruel as Pagan Masters towards their slaves!
I would also suggest the following books, if you wished to complete your picture of the Roman world. First get and read From the Gracchi to Nero: History of Rome from 133 A.D.68 (University Paperbacks) to get an overview of Roman history. Then I would also get, if you wish to fill in the details both Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games and The Corn Supply of Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press academic monograph reprints).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction 17 Nov 2007
By D. Held - Published on
An excellent introduction to Slavery in what the author calls "the central period", namely 200 bc-ad 200, though he does go over a bit and examines Christianity and slavery (c. ad400). It's enough to note that Christianity did little to change the attitude of Romans to slavery; but actually cemented the anodyne belief that one was already spiritually free if one was "free in his/her heart". Go tell that one to a suffering slave!
This book is an excellent and entertaining read, with a controversial twist: he brings in at critical points information from new world slavery, especially Latin America. I find this most rewarding, though some classicists may take umbrage. You may avoid the last two chapters: they appear to be filler to round out the book. "Slavery and progress" since there wasn't much to speak of and the last one on the evils of slavery is repetitive.
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