Culture Capsule: Roman Slavery


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  • Talks briefly about slavery
  • Transition that into a powerpoint about roman slavery and students will complete a fill in the blank worksheet (attached) as we go along
  • Addressing a series of questions
  • Mines or bakeries basically death sentence
  • There are 29.8 million people living as slaves right now
    At least 60,000 slaves in the us today
  • Discuses where slaves come from and the many jobs slaves do
    Good review of what we covered yesterday
  • How do you think most people treated their slaves based on the words of
    Why do you think Seneca encouraged the Romans to “treat your inferior as you
    would like to be treated”?
    Based on what you have seen and heard, what threat did people in the lower
    social classes present to Roman leaders?
  • Attached an example to each of your templates
  • These would be shared next class
  • Culture Capsule: Roman Slavery

    1. 1. Latin for Americans: Unit 3 Jessica Compton
    2. 2. Standards Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the perspectives of Greek or Roman perspectives of Greek or Roman culture as revealed in the practices of the Greeks or Romans. Standard 3.2: Students expand their knowledge through the reading of Latin or Greek and the study of ancient culture. Standard 4.5: Students compare and contrast their own culture with that of the Greco-Roman world.
    3. 3. Understandings Students will understand how Roman slavery functioned in the Greco-Roman world. Students will gain a better understanding of what life what have been like for a Roman slave or freedman. Students will understand the basic Roman social classes
    4. 4. Essential Questions What was the Roman attitude towards slavery? What was life like for a Roman slave or freedman? How was Roman slavery similar/dissimilar to the slavery that existed in the US? What were the Roman social classes?
    5. 5. Puerī Rōmānī pg. 94
    6. 6. Latin for Americans Unit 3: Slavery
    7. 7. Roman Slavery Slavery began to be an important factor in Roman life in the period from 350 to 272 BCE when Rome began to expand into central and southern Italy. The period of the first two Punic Wars, 262-201 BCE, marked a great increase in the number of slaves taken from the areas of the western part of the Mediterranean. After that, an increasing number of slaves come from the eastern Mediterranean.
    8. 8. Roman Slavery Some Numbers: 262 BCE- 20,000 inhabitants of Sicilian city of Agrigentum enslaved 205- 201BCE- 20,700 prisoners of war taken by Scipio Africanus in Africa 167 BCE- 150,000 men taken from 70 towns in Epirus enslaved
    9. 9. Who were slaves? Most slaves were prisoners of war who were captured in war. New ones could also be obtained through natural reproduction among the existing slave population, the exposure of infants, piracy, kidnapping by robbers, the sale of one’s children or of oneself, and long-distance trade with communities beyond the frontiers. Unlike slavery in the Americas, Roman slavery was not racially based.
    10. 10. Who were slaves? Slaves were bought and sold at a market. A highly educated slave might cost as much as 120,000 dollars at today’s prices. A trained farm worker slightly more than 10,000 dollars. A common laborer would cost even less. Desired attributes included beauty, strength, education, and special skills. The contract usually stipulated a no return policy, except for epilepsy.
    11. 11. What would slaves do? Slaves did much of the work on the farm and in the trades in in the growing numbers of businesses. Slaves worked as unskilled laborers, mechanics, artisans, carpenters, bricklayers, seamen, and assistants to merchants and shopkeepers.
    12. 12. What would slaves do? Many slaves from Greece and the Near East were more knowledgeable than their masters because of their backgrounds and early education. They became the teachers, doctors, musicians, actors, and bookkeepers in Roman society. Although educated and skilled slaves were given much personal freedom, they were still the master’s property and could be bought and sold at will.
    13. 13. What would slaves do? Wealthy Romans kept large numbers of slaves, many of whom had specialized tasks in the household (familia urbāna). One slave might be in charge of polishing the silver; another, of writing letter; and another, of announcing the guests or the hour of the day. Great landholders sometimes had hundreds of slaves on their estates where they tended the herds and did the work of growing grapes,
    14. 14. What was life like for slaves? The lives that slaves led differed greatly depending on who owned them and what kind of work they did. Some owners felt affection for their slaves and treated them humanely. Perhaps they also thought it was a good idea to take care of their investment.
    15. 15. What was life like for slaves? Other owners abused their slaves by beating them, torturing them, and even killing them. The master had the legal right to kill a slave, but naturally was rarely inclined to do so, because he would be destroying his own property. Whipping was a common punishment for minor offenses. Other more feared punishments were to send a slave to the mines or bakeries where the work was much harder.
    16. 16. Apuleius’ Golden Ass 9,12 The whole surface of their skin was painted with livid welts. Their stripped backs were merely shadowed, not covered, by the tattered patchwork they wore: some had thrown on a tiny cloth that just covered their loins, but all were clad in such a way that you discern them clearly through their rags. Their foreheads were branded, their heads half shaved and their feet chained. They were hideously sallow too, and their eyelids were eaten away by the smoky darkness of scorching murk until they were quite weak sighted; like boxers who fight sprinkled with dust, they were dirty whitewashed with flowery ash.
    17. 17. Could slaves runaway? Runaway slaves were branded on the forehead with the letter F, for fugitīvus, when they were caught. Sometimes a runaway slaves wore a metal collar around the neck on which was inscribed the name of his owner.
    18. 18. Could slaves be freed? There never was an attempt to abolish slavery in Rome. Even former slaves did nothing to eliminate slavery and were themselves sometimes slave- owners. But it is known that Rome was unique among slaveowning societies in that slaves were regularly manumitted. If this was done following certain formalities, the exslave became a Roman citizen. Although some public offices were closed to them, a freedman or freedwoman’s child had, at least in theory, the same opportunities as other free-born citizens.
    19. 19. Could slaves be freed? Most slaves were given allowances, and the thrifty slave could hope to save enough over the course of several years to buy their own freedom. Masters often granted freedom or released their slaves out of gratitude for services rendered. Others freed their slaves in their wills and left them sums of money to begin new lives.
    20. 20. Roman Social Classes Patricians Plebeians Slaves and Freedmen
    21. 21. Who were the Patricians? The patricians were at the top of Roman society. The word “patrician” comes from the Latin patrēs (fathers), and these families provided the empire’s political, religious, and military leadership. Most patricians were wealthy landowners from old families, but the class was open to a chosen few who had been deliberately promoted by the emperor.
    22. 22. Who were the plebeians? They were Rome’s working class, who had little individual power. But although individual plebeians had little power, there were a lot of them. In bad times, or during political unrest, there was always the risk of the Roman ‘mob’ rioting or rebelling against the upper classes. Plebeians were average working citizens of Rome – farmers, bakers, builders or craftsmen – who worked hard to support their families and pay their taxes.
    23. 23. Urban Life Video html
    24. 24. Does slavery still exist today?
    25. 25. Servī pg. 99
    26. 26. Letter of Seneca I am glad to learn, through those who come from you, that you live on friendly terms with your slaves. This befits a sensible and well-educated man like yourself. "They are slaves," people declare." Nay, rather they are men. "Slaves!" No, comrades. " Slaves!" No, they are unpretentious friends. "Slaves!" No, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike. That is why I smile at those who think it degrading for a man to dine with his slave. But why should they think it degrading? It is only because purse-proud etiquette surrounds a householder at his dinner with a mob of standing slaves. The master eats more than he can hold, and with monstrous greed loads his belly until it is stretched and at length ceases to do the work of a belly; so that he is at greater pains to discharge all the food than he was to stuff it down. All this time the poor slaves may not move their lips, even to speak. The slightest murmur is repressed by the rod; even a chance sound, - a cough, a sneeze, or a hiccup, - is visited with the lash. There is a grievous penalty for the slightest breach of silence. All night long they must stand about, hungry and dumb.
    27. 27. Letter of Seneca The result of it all is that these slaves, who may not talk in their master's presence, talk about their master. But the slaves of former days, who were permitted to converse not only in their master's presence, but actually with him, whose mouths were not stitched up tight, were ready to bare their necks for their master, to bring upon their own heads any danger that threatened him; they spoke at the feast, but kept silence during torture. Finally, the saying, in allusion to this same highhanded treatment, becomes current: "As many enemies as you have slaves." They are not enemies when we acquire them; we make them enemies.
    28. 28. Paired Activity Each pair will be assigned a short text about Roman slavery to briefly discuss then share with the class to create a discussion about Roman slavery.
    29. 29. Homework: Using all that we have learned about Roman slavery, write a short 1-2 paragraph diary entry or letter imaging yourself as a Roman slave or freedman. You must include what your job is and 2 facts about Roman slavery in your response. These will be shared next class. For example, you could be a Roman slave that works as a cook, who was captured in war and hopes to buy their freedom one day.
    30. 30. Test The unit will conclude with 5 true or false questions.