Slavery in Roman Republic

Topics: Ancient Rome, Roman Empire, Slavery Pages: 7 (2807 words) Published: April 1, 2013
During the Roman Republic, Ancient Rome was at its very beginnings and a civilization was just being created. Like any other civilization there were different levels of status between classes and several positions of power in which people could obtain. Subsequently, just as there were people of power and wealth, there were also people of little to no power and poverty. The Ancient Romans utilized the institution of slavery to help promote their civilization and became a major factor in the economy of the Roman Republic. In a way slaves helped shape Rome into what it is today. Without slavery in Ancient Rome, history could have been written differently when considering Rome as a powerful city and civilization.

Slavery had become a widespread institution in the Ancient World that reached throughout Europe and Asia. Rome was one of the areas that had the most access to slaves because of all the territory they gained through invasion and war. Slaves were primarily one of the bounties of ancient warfare. This included war captives, warriors, civilian men, women, and children of conquered populations. This began from a very early point in Roman history. Rome had a specific use for each person they captured. They could be used on farms, making clothes for the militia, fighting alongside the militia, reproducing new citizens, and many other forms of servitude. The Romans showed great strategies in planning and accommodating for their elite civilization they wished to create. In order to expand their civilization the Romans had to acquire more land. With the acquisition of new land came an influx of people they could use as slaves. The first major population that the Romans captured and enslaved was the neighboring Latin tribes and the Etruscans to the north of Rome. This was at a time when the Punic wars were being fought which eventually led to the fall of Carthage in 149 B.C. It was tradition in the Ancient World to enslave the population after a war to prevent any further rebellion. Therefore, the entire population that survived in Carthage was enslaved. After each conquest Rome would acquire more land and relied on the slaves they recently obtained to care for it. Even though Rome was expanding at a rapid pace, the Romans always acquired enough slaves to care for the newly acquired land. This was the first of many steps the Romans took to rise to power in the Ancient World. Slaves were not always acquired through acquisition of new land. In fact, at times, even Roman citizens could be enslaved. Slaves were considered to be property under Roman law and had no legal rights. Their status varied entirely depending on the year of their capture and what personal skills they obtained. According to the story of Romulus, Roman fathers could sell their children into slavery. Although it is looked upon as a desperate thing to do, some families were not able to feed three children. Sometimes a son could not have been fit for the militia and was in sense useless to the family. After the child reached a certain age, most commonly the age of fourteen, the child would be sent back to the family and could be sold again into slavery. Another way to become of slave was being a criminal. Most criminals were executed but depending on the crime, a criminal could be put into slavery until death. This shows that Rome had a vast supply of slaves from practically any angle. Eventually, slavery became a self-regulated system. In the sense that slaves were able to maintain their population with no help from the Romans. There were many slaves that were allowed to give birth to children. By doing so their children automatically became slaves. In certain aspects this would be a good thing because the slave parents didn’t know life to be any other way. Other scenarios include mothers killing their children to save them from sorrows of slavery. Also, for many reasons slave owners did not need more slaves and didn’t...

Bibliography: Bradley, K.R. Slavery and Society at Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press), 1994
Bradley, K.R. Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World 140 B.C.-70 B.C.
(Bloomington : Indiana University Press), 1998.
Lionel Casson. Everyday life in ancient Rome. Baltimore MD : The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1998
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