“But because we are perhaps ashamed to be self-sufficient, we make loans and mortgages our masters even though we should stick only to what is necessary and sustain ourselves by selling what is useless and excessive and establish a temple of freedom for our selves, our children, and our wives.
Artemis in Ephesus gives asylum to debtors when they flee into her temple and provides shelter from their debts. For the asylum and refuge of restraint is open to wise people everywhere and it provides them a pleasant and honorable vastness of great leisure.”
“Perhaps it is fated for these people to never think clearly when they’re doing well. It is nevertheless proper for you, because of who you are and because of what has been done by the state, to be eager to show to all people that we choose to pursue just acts now and always as we did before, while others accuse their fellow citizens before us because they want to enslave them.”
“What is the nature and the ability of the slave becomes clear from these things. For a person who by nature is not his own but another’s is naturally a slave. A person is another’s if he is a possession even though a person. A possession is a tool which has a use and can be traded.
Whether anyone is this kind of person by nature or not and whether it is better and just for anyone to be a slave or not or whether instead all slavery is contrary to nature are questions which should be investigated second. It is not difficult to figure this out by theorizing logically or from empirical evidence. For ruling or submitting to rule are not only necessary realities but they are also advantageous.
Some things are well-suited straight from birth to be ruled and others are suited to ruling. There are also many types of rulers and subordinates. The rule of better subjects is always better, for example being master of a person is better being master of a beast since the work which is expected from higher order creatures is greater. So, when one rules and the other is ruled, there is some labor from them together.
However so many things are put together from multiple parts and are united in one common whole, whether from continuous or separate pieces, the ruling and the ruled are clear in all. And this trait is present in living things as a result of nature…”
Although Odysseus has recently–and frequently–told similarly long and detailed stories, the scholia do not suspect them because they think Odysseus is lying. But Eumaios, who speaks mimetically, vividly and effectively, is doubted for his power of memory.
Homer, Odyssey 15.389–484
Then the swineherd, marshal of men, responded:
“Friend, since you have asked me and inquired truly of these things,
Listen now in silence and take some pleasure and drink your wine
While you sit there. These nights are endless. There is time for sleep And there is time to take pleasure in listening. It is not at all necessary For you to sleep before it is time. Even a lot of sleep can be a burden.
Let whoever of the rest the heart and spirit moves
Go out and sleep. For as soon as the down shows itself
Let him eat and follow the master’s swine.
As we two drink and dine in this shelter Let us take pleasure as we recall one another’s terrible pains. For a man finds pleasure even in pains later on After he has suffered so very many and survived many too.
I will tell you this because you asked me and inquired.
There is an island called Suriê, if you have heard of it,
Above Ortygia, where the rays of the sun rise.
It is not too filled, but it is a good place
Well stocked with cows, sheep, with much wine and grain too.
Poverty never curses the people there, nor does any other
Hateful sickness fall upon the wretched mortals,
But when the race of humans grow old in the city
Apollo silverbow comes with Artemis
And kills them with his gentle arrows.
There are two cities there and everything is divided between them.
My father used to rule both of them as king
Ktêsios the son of Ormenos, a man equal to the immortal gods.
The ship-famous Phaeacians used to to frequent there
Pirates, bringing countless treasures in their black ships.
There was a Phoenician woman in my father’s house
Beautiful and broad and skilled in wondrous works.
The devious Phoenicians were corrupting her.
First, one of them joined her for sex while she was washing clothes
Near the swift ship—these things mix up the thoughts
For the female sex even when one of them is work-focused.
He then asked her who she was and where she was from
And she immediately told him about the high-roofed home of my father.
“I claim to be from Sidon of much-bronze,
And I am the daughter of Arubas, a wealthy man.
Taphian pirates kidnapped me one day
As I was returned from the country, and they forced me to come here
To the house of this man. And he paid a great price.”
The man who had sex with her in secret responded,
“Would you want to go back home again now with us
So that you might see the high-roofed home of you father and mother
And them too? For they are still there and are reputedly wealthy.”
And the woman then answered him in turn,
“I wish that this would happen, if you would be willing, sailors,
To swear an oath to take me home unharmed.”
So she said, and all of them swore an oath as she requested.
And once they swore and completed the oath,
The woman spoke among them again and answered with a plan.
“Be quiet now. Don’t let anyone address me with words
Should any one of your companions happen to meet me
In the street or near the stream so that no one might go to the house
And speak to the old man who might suspect something and bind me
In strong bonds. But plan for this destruction yourselves.
Keep this plan in your thoughts and earn the pay for your travels.
But whenever the ship is indeed full of its material,
Let a message come to me swiftly in the house.
And I will bring gold, as much as is ready-to-hand,
And I will add another passage-fee which I may wish to give.
For I care for the child of this nobleman in his home.
This child is clever indeed, and he is always following me outside.
I would bring him to the ship because he will earn for you
A great price when you take him to some foreign people.”
So she spoke and then left to the beautiful home.
They remained there among us for the rest of the year
As they sold the martial in their cavernous ship.
But when the hollow ship was packed up to leave,
They sent a messenger who informed the woman.
A very clever man came to the house of my father
Bringing a golden necklace worked out with amber bits.
The slave-women in the hall and my mistress mother went
To touch the necklace with their hands and see it with their eyes
As they discussed the price. He nodded to her in silence.
And once he nodded he returned to the hollow ship.
And she took my hand and led me from the house outside.
In the front part of the house she found cups and platters
From the men who dine there and attend my father.
They went to the council place and the opinion of the people,
So she quickly hind three tankards under her bosom
And left. And I followed without a care in my mind.
The sun set and all the roads were in shadows.
We went to the famous harbor in a hurry,
And there was the salt-swift ship of the Phoenician men.
They disembarked then and went sailing over the watery ways,
After they put the two of us on board. And Zeus sent a favorable wind.
We were sailing for six nights and days.
But when Kronos’ son Zeus brought the seventh day
Artemis the archer killed that woman
And she thudded into the cargo hold like a diving sea gull.
And they threw her out to be food for the seals and fish.
But I remained still, filled with pain in my heart.
The wind and the water carried them to Ithaca
Where Laertes purchased me among his possessions.
Thus I saw this land here with my own eyes.”
You were describing to me that Sabina, when she designated us as heirs, did not explain that her slave Modestus should be freed, but still left him a legacy by saying, “to Modestus whom I ordered to be freed”. You ask to hear what I think. I have talked to people who are experienced in the law. It is agreed by all of them that he is not owed freedom since she did not give it nor the legacy because she gave it to him when he was a slave.
But this seems to be a clear error to me and I think that we would act as if she had written it out because she believe that she wrote it. I have faith that you will agree with my take on this, since you are customarily sedulously in carrying out the will of those who have passed away—it should be understood by good heirs as if it were the law. Respect puts no less a demand on us as law does for others. Therefore, let Modestus enjoy his freedom with our approval and receive the legacy as if Sabina had cared for everything with utmost precision. Truly, she did care, since she chose her heirs well! Goodbye!”
C. Plinius Statio Sabino Suo S.
Scribis mihi Sabinam, quae nos reliquit heredes, Modestum servum suum nusquam liberum esse iussisse, eidem tamen sic adscripsisse legatum: “Modesto quem liberum esse iussi.” Quaeris quid sentiam. Contuli cum peritis iuris. Convenit inter omnes nec libertatem deberi quia non sit data, nec legatum quia servo suo dederit. Sed mihi manifestus error videtur, ideoque puto nobis quasi scripserit Sabina faciendum, quod ipsa scripsisse se credidit. Confido accessurum te sententiae meae, cum religiosissime soleas custodire defunctorum voluntatem, quam bonis heredibus intellexisse pro iure est. Neque enim minus apud nos honestas quam apud alios necessitas valet. Moretur ergo in libertate sinentibus nobis, fruatur legato quasi omnia diligentissime caverit. Cavit enim, quae heredes bene elegit. Vale.
Pliny describes an attack by slaves with little empathy and comes to a dehumanizing conclusion. Here is some excellent advice on how to teach and write about slavery from P. Gabrielle Foreman (@profgabrielle). I have not followed all of the advice in the translation in an effort to convey Pliny’s tone.
Pliny the Younger, Letters, 3.14
“This terrible news deserves more than just a letter: Lucius Macedo, a former praetor has been overcome by his own slaves. He was an arrogant and harsh slave owner, one who remembered too little—or maybe too much—that his own father was enslaved. He was bathing in his Formian villa. Suddenly, the slaves stood around him. One attacked his throat; another beat his face; others struck his chest, gut, and—foul to report—they also struck his genitals.
When they believed he was dead, they left him to lie out cooking on the pavement just to see if he was alive or not. Whether he was conscious or not or just pretending not to be, he stayed there without moving, making them confident that he was completely dead. At that point he was taken out as if he were overcome by the heat. His more faithful slaves took him as his concubines rushed around with screaming and wailing. He was revived by such voices and perhaps the cooler place, and then seemed to believe it was safe to show he was alive with a glance of the eyes or some movement of the body.
The slaves fled and a great number of them have been caught while the others are being actively sought. Macedo himself was resuscitated for a few days and only with great labor. But he did not die without the comfort of vengeance, since he lived with the punishment meted out as if they had murdered him. You see here how many dangers and insults we are exposed to. There is no one who can feel safe just because he is gentle or restrained: slave owners are murdered not because of reason but because of an inclination toward crime.”
1 Rem atrocem nec tantum epistula dignam Larcius Macedo vir praetorius a servis suis passus est, superbus alioqui dominus et saevus, et qui servisse patrem suum parum, immo nimium meminisset. 2 Lavabatur in villa Formiana. Repente eum servi circumsistunt. Alius fauces invadit, alius os verberat, alius pectus et ventrem, atque etiam (foedum dictu) verenda contundit; et cum exanimem putarent, abiciunt in fervens pavimentum, ut experirentur an viveret. Ille sive quia non sentiebat, sive quia se non sentire simulabat, immobilis et extentus fidem 3 peractae mortis implevit. Tum demum quasi aestu solutus effertur; excipiunt servi fideliores, concubinae cum ululatu et clamore concurrunt. Ita et vocibus excitatus et recreatus loci frigore sublatis oculis agitatoque corpore vivere se (et iam tutum erat) confitetur.
Diffugiunt servi; quorum magna pars comprehensa est, ceteri requiruntur. Ipse paucis diebus aegre focilatus non sine ultionis solacio decessit 5ita vivus vindicatus, ut occisi solent. Vides quot periculis quot contumeliis quot ludibriis simus obnoxii; nec est quod quisquam possit esse securus, quia sit remissus et mitis; non enim iudicio domini sed scelere perimuntur.
“Andropodizô: takes an accusative object: “The barbarians were dissolving the treaties and clearly enslaving their alliance.” There are also the words andropodismos (“enslavement”) and aikhmalôsia (“captivity”). We also have the form andropodistês, “slave-seller”.
The Thessalians are slandered as being slavers and untrustworthy people. The association clearly comes from Jason who enslaved Medea. Euripides has “There were many present, but the Thessalians were untrustworthy.” The word slave-seller [andrapodistês] comes from “exchanging a man” [apodidosthai andra], this means “to sell”. This is a person who enslaved free people.
Thanks to Dimitri Nakassis for sending me this passage
“Thirteen hundred peltasts, Thracian swordsmen from the Dii tribe, also came to Athens the same summer. They were supposed to have traveled to Sicily with Demosthenes. Because they were rather late, the Athenians decided to send them back to Thrace where they came from. For it seemed too expense to retain them for the Decelean War since they each were earning a drachma a day.
Since Decelea was first invested by the whole enemy army in that summer and later was held by the garrisons coming from different cities coming in turn to ravage the land, it was causing great harm to the Athenians. Indeed, this undermined Athenian affairs first by loss of property and then by the death of men.
Previous attacks were brief and did not keep the Athenians from deriving benefit from their land the rest of the time. But once they were continually invested in Attica and they were sometimes attacking in force and at other times using a single garrison attacking the country and pillaging to supply itself. The Spartan king Agis was also present and he was no slacker in prosecuting the war.
The Athenians were greatly harmed; they were deprived of their whole land. More than twenty thousand slaves freed themselves and a great number of these were craftspeople. All of the sheep and pack animals perished. And the Athenian horses, because the cavalry was deploying every day to attack Decelea and guard the land, either went lame because of working on rocky ground or they were wounded.
It would be edifying to write a history of the Peloponnesian War from the perspective of the slaves on either side. At the very least, a selection of all the passages which mentioned slavery and enslaved peoples would change the way we think of the war.
Note from Charles F. Smith on perseus.edu
πλέονἢδύομυριάδες : Boeckh, P. E. p. 55, reckons the number of slaves in Athens in the most flourishing period at 365,000, so that the number here given does not seem incredible.