Slaves and Freedmen
DOI link for Slaves and Freedmen
Slaves and Freedmen book
Slavery was a social institution in Rome from the earliest times, and slaves are included in the lawcode of the XII Tables (doc. 1.32, cf. 1.53), though slaves and the institution of slavery as such are not deﬁned in the Republic; such deﬁnitions were to be the work of the imperial jurists. To the Romans of the Republic, a slave was a piece of property and slavery an institution in which human beings owned by others fulfilled labour requirements for their owners. Slaves, whether acquired as booty in warfare or raised within the household, were items of property, res mancipi, a term applied to other types of property such as land and animals, and so wholly in the ownership of their masters, who had the power of life and death over them. Slaves were not considered fully competent beings: a master could be sued for his slave’s wrongs. Slave status depended on that of the mother: if the mother was a slave so was the child, even if one of the citizen males of the household was the father.