April 14, 2014

Daily life of Roman life: Slavery

Slavery had a long history in the ancient world and was practiced in Ancient Egypt and Greece, as well as Rome. Most slaves during the Roman Empire were foreigners and, unlike in modern times, Roman slavery was not based on race.
Slaves were considered property under Roman law and had no legal personhood. Unlike Roman citizens, they could be subjected to corporal punishment, sexual exploitation (prostitutes were often slaves), torture, and summary execution. The testimony of a slave could not be accepted in a court of law unless the slave was tortured—a practice based on the belief that slaves in a position to be privy to their masters' affairs would be too virtuously loyal to reveal damaging evidence unless coerced (yeah right). Over time, however, slaves gained increased legal protection, including the right to file complaints against their masters.
How did people become Roman Slaves?
People became slaves among the Romans by the following ways:

  • Prisoners of war
  • Sailors captured and sold by pirates
  • By way of punishment
  • They were born in a state of servitude. Under Roman law, the offspring of slave women assumed the status of their mothers.
  • Slaves bought outside Roman territory
  • In hard times, it was not uncommon for desperate Roman citizens to raise money by selling their children into slavery.

Roman Slaves - The Slave Auctions
Slaves taken in the field, or in the storming of cities, were sold at auction, “sub corona,” as it was called, because they wore a crown when sold; or “sub hasta,” because a spear was set up where the auctioneer stood. These were called Servi or Mancipia. Those who dealt in the slave trade were called Mangones or Venalitii: they were bound to promise for the soundness of their slaves, and not to conceal their faults. Sometimes slaves stood on revolving stands, and around each slave for sale hung a type of plaque describing his or her origin, health, character, intelligence, education, and other information relevant to purchasers. Prices varied with age and quality, with the most valuable slaves fetching prices equivalent to thousands of today's dollars. Because the Romans wanted to know exactly what they were buying, slaves were presented naked. The dealer was required to take a slave back within six months if the slave had defects that were not manifest at the sale, or make good the buyer's loss. Slaves to be sold with no guarantee were made to wear a cap at the auction.

Slaves worked in a wide range of occupations that can be roughly divided into five categories:

Domestic: Well educated slaves were valued by the Romans. they worked as tutors or teachers of their children, accountants, musicians, managers, artists, secretaries, doctors and even as cooks. The day in the life of this type of slave was infinitely better than any other slaves. Because they were highly valued they were better treated, although they were subject to the same Roman Laws and no basic human rights accorded to them. They were given clothes which were appropriate to their slave status and their roles.

Imperial or public; owned by the state worked as laborers on public buildings, bridges, road building, sewers, public baths etc. Public slaves also worked in temples and other public buildings both in Rome and in the municipalities. Most performed general, basic tasks as servants to the College of Pontiffs, magistrates, and other officials. Some well-qualified public slaves did skilled office work such as accounting and secretarial services. They were permitted to earn money for their personal use.
Because they had an opportunity to prove their merit, they could acquire a reputation and influence, and were sometimes deemed eligible for manumission. During the Republic, a public slave could be freed by a magistrate's declaration, with the prior authorization of the senate; in the Imperial era, liberty would be granted by the emperor. Municipal public slaves could be freed by the municipal council

Urban crafts and services; These worked in private household attending to every need of the masters and mistresses - cooking, cleaning, washing, gardening, serving etc. City slaves also worked in factories which produced various products

Agriculture:  Farm slaves probably lived in more healthful conditions than urban cousins. About half of all slaves in the Roman Republic and Empire worked in the countryside, the remainder in towns and cities.

Mining slaves numbering in the tens of thousands were condemned to work in the mines or quarries, where conditions were notoriously brutal. They were called Damnati in metallum ("those condemned to the mine") were convicts who lost their freedom as citizens, forfeited their property to the state, and became servi poenae, slaves as a legal penalty. Their status under the law was different from that of other slaves; they could not buy their freedom, be sold, or be set free. They were expected to live and die in the mines.

Essential labor 
Slaves worked everywhere – in private households, in mines and factories, and on farms. They also worked for city governments on engineering projects such as roads, aqueducts and buildings. As a result, they merged easily into the population. 
In fact, slaves looked so similar to Roman citizens that the Senate once considered a plan to make them wear special clothing so that they could be identified at a glance. The idea was quickly rejected because the Senate feared that, if slaves saw how many of them were working in Rome, they might be tempted to join forces and rebel (remember Spartacus).

Free at Last (barely)
Manumission is the act of a slave owner freeing his or her slaves. A freed slave was the libertus of his former master, who became his patron (patronus). The two had mutual obligations to each other within the traditional patronage network. The terms of his manumission might specify the services a libertus owed. A freedman could "network" with other patrons as well.
As a social class, former slaves were libertini. Men could vote and participate in politics, with some limitations. They could not run for office, nor be admitted to the senatorial class. The children of former slaves enjoyed the full privileges of Roman citizenship without restrictions.

April 6, 2014

Aeneid: Unexpected Journey Part IV

Destination: Arrived

In the Kingdom of Latium was a king, named Latinus, who name was eponym of the Latins, the language of the Romans. Latinus was a son of Faunus and Marcia. He was also a legacy of Picus and of Saturn (Cronus). Latinus was married to Queen Amata, and he was a father of Princess Lavinia. Latinus ruled in the city of Laurentum. He was destined to not have any son to rule after him, so it was important to find a suitable husband for his daughter. Lavinia has many suitors, including Turnus, a young king from the city of Ardea. Turnus was most likely to have married Lavinia, because he was the strongest and most handsome of Italic suitors.
However, Latinus witnessed several miracles, which his prophet said that he must marry his daughter to no Latin prince; Lavinia must marry a foreign prince who was due to arrive soon; it was a divine decree of the Fates. However, with this stranger, war will break out on his land, because of the dispute over his daughter between his people, neighboring tribes and the newcomers. Latinus had confirmation from his father Faunus (Pan) that the oracle was true. Latinus was horrified that there will be war on his land, but he couldn't ignore the divine decree that he must marry his daughter to this Trojan prince.
Aeneas and his followers landed at the mouth of the River Tiber. As Aeneas had lunch on the field with his son, he realized that they had found their new home. When Ascanius commented on that they were eating their table. This reference came from the encounter of the harpies.
When Aeneas arrived in Laurentum, Latinus warmly greeted Aeneas, and knew immediately that this stranger was destined to marry his daughter. So when Aeneas asked for Lavinia's hand in marriage, the old king agreed.
However the Goddess Juno stirred up trouble for new settlers (again). Juno caused Amata to oppose Aeneas' suit, preferring Turnus. When Turnus found out that the king was favoring a stranger, he was also angry. Turnus refused to give up Lavinia and called upon Latinus to help him drive out the Trojans, but the old king refused to go to war against the Trojans, since he knew that Aeneas would fulfil the prophecy, regardless his wife's or Turnus' opposition to the Trojan prince.
There is a temple of Janus in Laurentum, with two Gates of War. The Latins would go to war only if both Gates were opened. Amata tried to persuade her husband to open the gates, but the old king refused. Juno, however, descent from Olympus, and with her own hands, unbolted the gates and threw the doors wide open, signaling war. Seeing that war was inevitable, Latinus abdicated to his wife.
While Aeneas was seeking allies, Turnus and the Latins had already attacked the Trojans. The Trojans were besieged in their small, hastily built fort. There was a series of skirmishes in the beginning. The Trojans were about to be overwhelmed by numerically superior force, until Aeneas arrived with reinforcement from newly formed allies, the Etruscans.
The war began to turn in the Trojans favor. The Trojans and their allies began to besiege Lauretum. Aeneas and Turnus decided to end the war through single combat, but Juno ended the truce, by stirring up the Latins. Juno used a nymph named Juturna, who was sister of Turnus, to disrupt the truce. It was Juturna who wounded Aeneas with an arrow, but Venus saved her son and healed his wound. In the guise of Turnus' charioteer, Juturna tried to protect her brother. When the city seemed to be lost, Amata committed suicide.
More fighting followed, until Aeneas and Turnus agreed to another truce; they would settle the war through single combat (again). Jupiter (Zeus) prevented Juturna from saving her brother. In the end, Aeneas was stronger and more skilful warrior than Turnus. Aeneas wounded Turnus. With Turnus' death, the Latins surrendered to the Trojans, since it was decided by single combat.
Aeneas founded the city of Lavinium, named after his wife. After Aeneas's death, Venus asked Jupiter to make her son immortal. Jupiter agreed. The river god Numicus cleansed Aeneas of all his mortal parts and Venus anointed him with ambrosia and nectar, making him a god. His legacies lead to the Roman people and Julii family (Julius Caesar).

April 5, 2014

Aeneid: Unexpected Journey Part III

Sailing away from Africa and Dido's drama, they were at sea for days before they reach Sicily again. This time they were guests of Acestes, in Eryx. Acestes' mother was Trojan, so he helped Aeneas prepared a great funeral games for Aeneas' father, Anchises, who had died at Drepănum a year ago.
Then they set out again for Italy, hoping to reach Cumae, so he could consult with the Sibyl. Before they had landed in Eryx, Palinurus, the pilot of Aeneas' ship had complained about dark, stormy sky. But before they reached Cumae, the pilot was lulled by the calm weather and sea; he fell asleep at the tiller, then fell overboard and drowned by Somnus, the God of the Sleep.
The Trojans reached Cumae, where Aeneas found and met the Sibyl, the oracle and priestess of Apollo and Diana in Diana's Wood. Her name was Deiphobe, daughter of Glaucus. Through a trance Sibyl foresaw that Aeneas would find greater danger in Latium than he ever did on the high seas. In Latium, Aeneas would have to fight another war, if he was to win a homeland for his son and people.
Aeneas was not satisfied with just Sibyl's prophecy, he wanted to go to the Underworld to visit his father; a promise he had made before Anchises had died. The Sibyl agreed to guide him through the Underworld, only if he could find the Golden Bough.
The Golden Bough was sacred to Proserpine (Persephone), which will be offered to the goddess. Another name for the bough was the Wand of Destiny. Like the name implied, the leaf and stem is golden in colour. Pluck the bough from the tree, and another one would grow in its place. However, no one can pluck this Golden Bough, unless the person was destined to do so; not even an axe or sword could cut the Bough from the tree. It can only found on one tree, somewhere in Diana's Wood. Aeneas felt a little despair, because this wood was quite large and dense. A white bird flew pass Aeneas' face. The Trojan hero recognized the dove, which was sacred to his mother. He believed that his mother had sent the bird to aid him, so he followed the flight of Venus' dove.
Aeneas found the Golden Bough on a holm-oak tree. Aeneas had to pull a couple of times, before the Golden Bough would come free in his hands. Aeneas brought the bough to the Sibyl, and they made preparation to descend the Underworld.
Aeneas and the Sibyl went to a cave, which was protected by a black lake and forest. No birds fly over this lake because the fume or water vapor was poisonous. Four bullocks were sacrificed to the goddess Hecate. Aeneas, himself, sacrificed a black lamb the Fates and barren cow to Proserpine. After sacrificial rites were completed, Aeneas followed Sibyl into the Underworld.
There is a lot of description in Aeneas' descent, which cannot be fully described here. Aeneas and Sibyl on had to the river Styx, where they encountered Charon, the ferryman. At first, Charon refused to allow passage for the livings, because of his previous dealing with living heroes (Heracles, Orpheus, Theseus and Peirithous). He change his tune when the Sibyl revealed the Golden Bough to Charon.
The Sibyl had also led them passed the Cerberus, by feeding them drugged honey cakes, which caused the hound to fall into slumber. Throughout their journey, Aeneas encountered shades of human and some shades of frightening creatures, but now harmless now that they are dead. Among the shades he met was his cousin Deïphobus, son of Priam. But the person who caused him the most grief was Dido, the Carthaginian queen. Dido refused to acknowledge his presence, since she had killed herself because he had abandoned her. Even dead, she was still angry with Aeneas. She has now rejoined her former husband, Sychaeus, who comfort her.
They soon came to the entry to the Elysian Fields, where an archway was erected by the Cyclops. At this gateway, Aeneas planted the Golden Bough on the threshold, before the pair entered a separate part of the Underworld.
Sibyl then asked the poet Musaeus for direction to finding Anchises. Musaeus was either a pupil, lover  or son of Orpheus. Finally they found Anchises near the river Lethe. Father and son were reunited for a little while. Anchises urged his son to find their new home in Italy, where one of their descendants, named Romulus, would find the city Rome that would last thousands of years. Anchises also revealed that this Rome would establish a strong empire, lasting longer than others; it would certainly be greater than Troy.He mentioned other kings and famous generals, as well as the wars against Carthage and Gaul. Few of these great Romans would be:
Gaius Julius Caesar: Great General and Founder of the Roman Empire

Augustus (Octavius), the first emperor of Imperial Rome

Trajan: Emperor and Conqueror 

Hadrian: Emperor and great architect 
As you can see this is a lot of propaganda for Rome or their destiny.

Aeneid: Unexpected Journey Part II

A fierce storm broke out at sea, with stormy winds driving the Trojan fleet to Carthage. It was no ordinary storm. Juno, Queen of Heaven, had stirred the winds and sea. Since the time of Judgment of Paris, the goddess hatred for the Trojans hasn't lesser since the death of Paris and the sack of mighty Troy. She was supporter of the Greek army, determined to rid of Troy for being slight in a beauty contest, when Paris awarded the apple of discord to Venus.
In Carthage, the goddess had hoped that its ruler and its kingdom would turn against these strangers, or at least divert Aeneas from fulfilling his destiny in Italy. But this kingdom was ruled by a great queen named Dido.
There are at least two Didos in mythology. Dido was the founder of Carthage hundreds of years before Rome when she fled from Phoenicia after their brother, Pygmalion, had murdered Sychaeus, Dido's husband and uncle. Other Dido is the one who with her sister Anna meet Aeneas.The queen welcomed Aeneas and the Trojans to stay in Carthage, offer her palace to the Trojan royalty, in the hope that Aeneas would in time become her husband.
Venus took action to ensure her son's survival. The love goddess persuaded her son Cupid (Eros), to make the Carthaginian queen fall in love with Aeneas, so the Carthaginian queen did not harm her son. During a hunting trip, the storm scattered the hunting party. Aeneas and Dido took sheltered into this cave, and the next morning, it soon became common knowledge in Carthage that Dido had slept with Aeneas. Though, they were not married, Dido was crazy in love, believing that they were married. Aeneas had a year-long affair with the Carthaginian queen Dido, who proposed that the Trojans settle in her land and that she and Aeneas reign jointly over their peoples. A marriage of sorts was arranged between Dido and Aeneas at the instigation of Juno, who was told that her favorite city would eventually be defeated by the Trojans' descendants. Juno hoped that Aeneas would marry Dido, in the hope that he would forget his destiny in Italy. Venus has the opposite thought to this matter.
Aeneas's mother Venus realized that her son and his company needed a temporary breather to reinforce them for the journey to come and Juno’s trick. However, the messenger god Mercury was sent by Jupiter and Venus to remind Aeneas of his journey and his purpose, compelling him to leave secretly. Aeneas tried to leave Carthage in secret, but Dido found out and tried to dissuade him from leaving. Aeneas told her that he was reluctant to leave, but he was given an order by Jupiter that his home was in Italy. Dido could neither detain nor hurt him; she cursed him that her death would haunt him for the rest of his life. She made further entreaties to Aeneas as the Trojans made preparation for the journey.
When the final preparation was made, Dido had given up. Dido became inconsolable and quite mad over Aeneas abandoning her. Dido asked Anna to order a preparation should be made to sacrifice to Pluto, all the possessions that belonged to Aeneas, such as his sword and clothing, would be burned in the pyre. Dido told her sister it was the only way that she could forget the traitorous Trojan. Anna didn't realize her sister's true intention.
The moment she saw the ships left her harbor, Dido returned to the bed which she had shared with Aeneas. On the bed were Aeneas sword and clothing. With final words to the gods, she falls upon Aeneas' sword.
Upon Dido’s lifeless body; Anna realized the true purpose of the funeral purpose. Rather than wait, Anna had her sister placed upon the funeral pyre and set alight. Anna uttered a curse that would forever pit Carthage against Rome, an enmity that would culminate in the Punic Wars. Aeneas did see the black smoke from a distant, but did not know it was from the fire of Dido's funeral pyre.

April 4, 2014

Aeneid: Unexpected Journey Part I

In Virgil's poem, The Aeneid, the ideal Roman hero is depicted in the form of Aeneas. Not only does Aeneas represent the Roman hero, but he also represents what every Roman citizen is called to be. Each Roman citizen must posses two major virtues, he must remain pious, and he must remain loyal to the Roman race.
In the poem, Virgil says that all Romans ought to have two certain virtues: he must remain a pious Roman citizen, and he must remain loyal to the Roman race. In Virgil's poem, he uses Aeneas as a portrayal of not only a roman hero, but also as the ideal Roman citizen. For a man to be pious, he must do what he is called to do by the Fates and follow his destiny. Aeneas is above all pious. He follows the will of the gods, even when it makes him suffer. Aeneas' destiny is to lead the Trojan people to the new land of Rome. Although this is tough for him to do and he runs into difficulties along the way, he keeps on striving towards his final goal. Along the Greek gods develop new persona: a Roman  form.
Aeneas was the son of Anchises. His mother was the Greek goddess Aphrodite or the Roman goddess Venus. A story of the conception of Aeneas can be found in the Homeric Hymns. One long hymn was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite.
Aphrodite was a very playful and fun-loving goddess. At times she played jokes on the other gods and goddesses. One of her favorite targets was to make a male god, especially Zeus, fall in love with a mortal woman. Zeus did not want Aphrodite to be able to mock the gods because they had sired demigods with mortal women, so he decided to retaliate. He caused Aphrodite to look with desire on a mortal man so that she too would be the parent of a demigod. So Zeus put desire in her heart for Anchises, who was tending his cattle at that time among the hills near Mount Ida. When she saw him she was totally smitten. She then adorned herself as if for a wedding among the gods and appeared before him. He was quickly overcome by her beauty, believing that she was a goddess, but Aphrodite denied herself saying that she was a Phrygian princess. After they had sex Aphrodite revealed to him that she was actually the Goddess of Love. Anchises feared what might happen to him as a result of their liaison (Ares's and/or Hephaestus's fury ), so Aphrodite assured that he would be protected, and that she would bear him a son and would call him Aeneas. However, she warned him that he must never tell anyone that he had lain with her. When Aeneas was born, Aphrodite took him to the nymphs of Mount Ida. She directed them to raise the child to age five, and then take him to Anchises. Anchises later bragged about his time with Aphrodite at dinner party, and as a result was struck in the foot with a thunderbolt from Zeus and became forever lame.
The House of Troy had actually being divided into two branches: that of Dardania and that of Troy or Ilium. Aeneas actually belonged to the Dardania, a house older than Troy, but Troy became more powerful than Dardania. So in actual fact Aeneas was a Dardanian prince, not a Trojan.
Troy had fallen due to a ruse, in which the Greeks had hidden inside a giant Wooden Horse. The Greek fleet had gone, pretending they had left in defeat. At night, while the Trojan slept after an apparent victory over the Greeks, those inside the Trojan Horse would come out of its belly and opened the Troy's gate for the returning Greek army. Too many Trojans were killed in the first hour of treachery and massacre, despite their valiant stand to save their city.
When Aeneas realized that Troy could not be saved, he went to rescue his family. Since Anchises, former king of the Dardanians, was crippled, Aeneas had to carry his father on his back. Aeneas left his home, with his son in tow Ascanius (Iulus) and his wife Creusa, the daughter of King Priam of Troy and Hecuba, following behind them. During their flight, Cresua got separated from husband. She had vanished, apparently killed or captured by the Greeks.
Aeneas reached the safety of Mount Ida, with his father and son. Other survivors had also managed to reach Mount Ida. After the Greek left with Troy destroyed and the Trojan survivors enslaved, Aeneas and his followers left Troy, with twenty ships they sailed to Thrace, hoping to find a new home. However the ghost of his cousin Polydorus, son of Priam, warned them of his murder by the treacherous Thracian king named Polymestor.
Aeneas was advised by Polydorus to find a new home for his people from the land of their "ancient mother", which they assumed to be Crete, the original home of Teucer, the Trojan ancestor. They had only arrived on this island but only to decide to leave Crete when they found that the island was suffering from a famine.
It was only when they reached Buthrotum, in Epeirus that they met Helenus, the seer and the son of Priam. Helenus had being slave to Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, but gained freedom, because of his wise counsel. Andromache, Hector's wife had also being freed, and she married the seer. It was Helenus who informed them that their final destination was Italy.
The journey to Italy was long and fraught with perils. Just before they met Helenus they were driven away by the Harpies on the islands of Strophades. They avoid the narrow strait where the six-headed monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis.
They suffered from hardship in travel, they encountered the wild storms, the Harpies, and in Sicily, they rescued an Ithacan, named Achaemenides, whom Odysseus had left behind. Achaemenides' timely warning, allow Aeneas and his followers to escape from Polyphemus, the blind Cyclops. Also Aeneas' father died peacefully in Drepanum, in Sicily.
After a brief but fierce storm sent up against the group at Juno's request, Aeneas and his fleet made landfall at Carthage after six years of wanderings. Has he finally filled his destiny or Juno leaving Aeneas to his death? Stay tune.

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