Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/235

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219
SLAVERY


or for their readiness and address in remembering names, delivering messages of courtesy and the like. There were also attached to a great household physicians, artists, secretaries, librarians, copyists, preparers of parchment, as well as pedagogues and preceptors of different kinds—readers, grammarians, men of letters and even philosophers—all of servile condition, besides accountants, managers and agents for the transaction of business. Actors, comic and tragic, pantomimi, and the performers of the circus were commonly slaves, as were also the gladiators. These last were chosen from the most warlike races—as the Samnites, Gauls and Thracians. Familiae of gladiators were kept by private speculators, who hired them out; they were sometimes owned by men of high rank.

Several special examples and other indirect indications show that the wealthier Romans possessed large familiae. This may be inferred from the columbaria of the house of Livia and of other great houses. The slaves of Pedanius Secundus, who, in spite of a threatened outbreak of the indignant populace, were all put to death because they had been under their master’s roof when he was murdered, were four hundred in number. Pliny tells us that Caecilius, a freedman of the time of Augustus, left by his will as many as 4116. The question as to the total number of slaves at Rome or in Italy is a very difficult one, and it is not, perhaps, possible to arrive with any degree of certainty at an approximate estimate. Gibbon sup- poses that there were in the Roman world in the reign of Claudius at least as many slaves as free inhabitants. But Blair seems right in believing that this number, though probably correct for an earlier period, is much under the truth for the age to which it is assigned. He fixes the proportion of slaves to free men as that of three to one for the time between the conquest of Greece (146 b.c.) and the reign of Alexander Severus (a.d. 222–235). The entire number of slaves in Italy would thus have been, in the reign of Claudius, 20,832,000.

By the original Roman law the master was clothed with absolute dominion over the slave, extending to the power of life and death, which is not surprising when we consider the nature of the patria Laws. potestas. The slave could not possess property of any kind; whatever he acquired was legally his master’s. He was, however, in practice permitted to enjoy and accumulate chance earnings or savings, or a share of what he produced, under the name of peculium. A master could not enter into a contract with his slave, nor could he accuse him of theft before the law; for, if the slave took anything, this was not a subtraction, but only a displacement, of property. The union of a male and female slave had' not the legal character of a marriage; it was a cohabitation {contubernium) merely, which was tolerated, and might be terminated at will, by the master; a slave was, therefore, not capable of the crime of adultery. Yet general sentiment seems to have given a stronger sanction to this sort of connexion; the names of husband and wife are freely used in relation to slaves on the stage, and even in the laws, and in the language of the tombs. For entering the military service or taking on him any state office a slave] was punished with death. He could not in general be examined as a witness, except by torture. A master, when accused, could offer his slaves for the “question,” or demand for the same purpose the slaves of another; and, if in the latter case they were injured or killed in the process, their owner was indemnified. A slave could not accuse his master, except of adultery or incest (under the latter name being included the violation of sacred things or places) ; the case of high treason was afterwards added to these. An accused slave could not invoke the aid of the tribunes. The penalties of the law for crime were specially severe on slaves.

Columella, like Xenophon, favours a certain friendliness and familiarity in one’s intercourse with his farm slaves. Cato ate and drank the same coarse victuals as his slaves, and even had Treatment of slaves. the children suckled by his wife, that they might imbibe a fondness for the family. But he had a strict eye to profit in all his dealings with them. He allowed the contubernium of male and female slaves at the price of a money payment from their peculium. Columella regarded the gains from the births as a sufficient motive for encouraging these unions, and thought that mothers should be rewarded for their fecundity; Varro, too, seems to have taken this view. The immense extension of the rural estates {latifundia) made it impossible for masters to know their slaves, even if they were disposed to take trouble for the purpose. Effective superintendence even by overseers became less easy; the use of chains was introduced, and these were worn not only in the field during working hours but at night in the ergastulum where the slaves slept. Urban slaves had probably often a life as little enviable, especially those who worked at trades for speculators. Even in private houses at Rome, so late as the time of Ovid, the porter was chained. In the familia urbana the favourites of the master had good treatment, and might exercise some influence over him which would lead to their receiving flattery and gifts from those who sought his vote or solicited his support. Doubtless there was often genuine mutual affection ; slaves sometimes, as in noted instances during the civil wars, showed the noblest spirit of devotion to their masters. Those who were not inmates of the household, but were employed outside of it as keepers of a shop or boat, chiefs of workshops, or clerks in a mercantile business, had the advantage of greater freedom of action. The slaves of the leno and the lanista were probably in most cases not only degraded but unhappy. The lighter punishments inflicted by masters were commonly personal chastisement or banishment from the town house to rural labour; the severer were employment in the mill (pistrinum) or relegation to the mines or quarries. To the mines also speculators sent slaves; they worked half-naked, men and women, in chains, under the lash and guarded by soldiers. Vedius Pollio, in the time of Augustus, was said to have thrown his slaves, condemned sometimes for trivial mistakes or even accidents, to the lampreys in his fishpond. Cato advised the agriculturist to sell his old oxen and his old slaves, as well as his sick ones; and sick slaves were exposed in the island of Aesculapius in the Tiber; by a decree of Claudius slaves so exposed, if they recovered, could not be reclaimed by their masters.

Though the Roman slaves were not, like the Spartan Helots, kept obedient by systematic terrorism, their large numbers were a constant source of danger. The law under which the slaves of Pedanius were put to death, probably introduced under Augustus and more fully enacted under Nero, is sufficient proof of this anxiety, which indeed is strongly stated by Tacitus in his narrative of the facts. There had been many conspiracies amongst the slaves in the course of Roman history, and some formidable insurrections. The growth of the latifundia made the slaves more and more numerous and formidable. Free labour was discountenanced. Cato, Varro and Columella all agree that slave labour was to be preferred to free except in unhealthy regions and for large occasional operations, which probably tran- scended the capacity of the permanent familia rustica. Cicero and Livy bear testimony to the disappearance of a free plebs from the country districts and its replacement by gangs of slaves working on great estates. The worst form of such praedial slavery existed in Sicily, whither Mommsen supposes that its peculiarly harsh features had been brought by the Carthaginians. In Sicily, accord- ingly, the first really serious servile insurrections took place. The rising under Eunus in 133 b.c. was with some difficulty suppressed by Rupilius. Partial revolts in Italy succeeded; and then came the second Sicilian insurrection under Trypho and Athenio, followed by the Servile War in Italy under Spartacus (q.v.). Clodiusand Miloused bands of gladiators in their city riots, and this action on the part of the latter was approved by Cicero. In the First Civil War they were to be found in both camps, and the murderers of Caesar were escorted to the Capitol by gladiators. Antony, Octavius, and Sextus Pompeius employed them in the Second Civil War; and it is recorded by Augustus on the Monumentum Ancyranum that he gave back to their masters for punishment about 30,000 slaves who had absconded and borne arms against the state. Under Tiberius, at the death of Caligula, and in the reign of Nero there were threatening movements of the slaves. In the wars from Otho to Vespasian they were em- ployed, as Tacitus tells us, even by the most scrupulous generals.

Blair, in comparing the Greek and Roman systems of slavery, points with justice to the greater facility and frequency of emancipa- tion as the great superiority of the latter. No Roman slave, he Says, " needed to despair of becoming both a freeman and a citizen." Manumission was of two kinds—justa or regular, and minus justa. Of manumissio justa there were four modes: (1) by adoption, rarely resorted to; (2) by testament, already recognized in the Twelve Tables; (3) by census, which was of exceptional use, and did not exist later than the time of Vespasian; and (4) by vindicta, which was the usual form. In the last method the master turned the slave round, with the words " liber esto," in the presence of the praetor, that officer or his lictor at the same time striking the slave with his rod. The manumissio minus justa was effected by a sufficient manifestation of the will of the master, as by letter, by words, by putting the pileus (or cap of liberty) on the slave, or by any other formality which had by usage become significant of the intention to liberate, or by such an act as making the slave the guardian of his children. This extra-legal sort of manumission was incomplete and precarious; even after the lex Junia Norbana (a.d. 19), which assimilated the position of those so liberated to that of the Latin colonists, under the name of Latini juniores, the person remained in the eye of the law a slave till his death and could not dispose of his peculium.

A freedman, unless he became such by operation of law, remained client of his master, and both were bound by the mutual obligations arising out of that relation. These obligations existed also in the case of freedmen of the state, of cities, temples and corporations. The freedman took his former master’s name ; he owed him deference (obsequium) and aid (officium) ; and neglect of these obligations was punished, in extreme cases even with loss of liberty. Conditions might be annexed by the master to the gift of freedom, as of continued residence with him, or of general service or some particular duty to be performed, or of a money payment to be made. But the praetor Rutilius, about the beginning of the 1st century b.c., limited the excessive imposition of such conditions, and his restrictions were carried further by the later jurists and the imperial constitutions. Failing natural heirs of an intestate freedman, the master, now patron, succeeded to his property at his death; and he could dispose y will of only half his possessions, the patron receiving the other half. Freedmen and their sons were subject to civil disabilities; the third generation became ingenui (full citizens). Thus, the slave element tended to merge itself in the general popular body.

It was often a pecuniary advantage to the master to liberate his slave; he obtained a payment which enabled him to buy a substitute, and at the same time gained a client. This of course presupposes the