How much of ancient Rome were slaves

Slaves in Ancient Rome: Presentation on Slavery in the Roman Empire

In Rome, trading in slaves used to be a matter of course. In Italy around 150 BC there was Nearly a million slaves. Most were comrades-in-arms. A slave cost between 200 and 500 denarii on slave markets. But there were also slaves who cost 1,500 denarii because they could cook or had other special skills.

Slaves were treated as one thing by everyone and had no rights. Often times an owner would give him a new name after buying a slave. The slaves were not even given their own identity.

It was very rare for slaves to receive wages. When slaves ran away or did not listen to their owners, they were cruelly punished. In the case of minor offenses, the slaves were marked with a brand or put in treadmills. But when slaves committed larger crimes, they were crucified or forced to fight with wild predators and gladiators. But it hit the slaves who had to work in a mine even worse.

Of all the slaves, the best were those who worked in the city. They were assigned jobs such as grooms, house cleaners, valets, cooks, messengers, readers, bookkeepers and secretaries. Very few slaves had responsible tasks such as educators, teachers, wet nurses or nannies. The urban slaves were given proper clothing and wore the garments associated with their occupation. Nevertheless, it was people without rights who were constantly exposed to physical violence. In the countryside, slaves had fewer freedoms and were even more strictly controlled. Often times they were locked in a workhouse with other slaves at night.

The Roman Empire would never have reached such a large extent without slaves.

More information in the article "Slavery in Antiquity".

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