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Comparison between Egyptian and Roman slavery

Criteria Egyptian Slaves Roman Slaves
Images Egyptian slavery Roman Slaves
Role in Society
  • Contrary to popular belief, Slavery in Egypt seems to have been fairly rare prior to the New Kingdom with the enslavement of the Hebrews, progressing over time.
  • Slavery was not a dominant fixture - it was a luxury and privilege for the ruling elite only
  • Slavery in ancient Rome was vital the economy and the social fabric of the society.
  • The slave population has been estimated at anywhere from 25 to "40%" of the population of the city as a whole - 350,000 of the 900,000 total inhabitants.
  • A predominant factor driving both social and economic policies for the Republic
Cause of Slavery
  1. War - All captives including those outside of the military forces, became a royal resource.
  2. The Pharaoh granted some of them to temples, and Nobles .
  3. Slave trading in markets was not known in Egypt
  1. War - With the conquest of western Europe countless millions of slaves were transported to Rome, the Italian countryside and Latin colonies all over Europe.
  2. The law stated that fathers could sell their children if they were in need of money.
  3. Some Romans sold themselves into slavery, in order to pay off debts
  4. Slaves were sold at a slave market. They were put on show, naked, with a notice around their necks. anyone who had enough money could buy them.
  5. The children of slave couples were born as slaves.
Slave Trade From the thousands of papyri describing the life on ancient Egyptians, no records were found indicating the existance of slave markets or auctions
  1. Slaves were sold at a slave-market, which was an important and active part of the Roman Forum
  2. Merchants who dealt in the slave trade were called Mangones, they were bound to promise for the soundness of their slaves, and not to conceal their faults.
  3. Slaves were commonly exposed for sale naked, with a scroll hanging to their necks, on which their good and bad qualities were specified.
Tasks
  1. Household slaves - Only found in Royal houses of the Pharaoh and Nobles
  2. Slaves worked in royal mines owned by the state.
  3. In temples slaves helped priests take care of the gods and their needs
  1. Farming - enormous slave run plantations owned by the aristocratic elite
  2. Household slaves - Prevalent in households of rich middle class and Nobility. Some of these were highly regarded and educated.
  3. Industry - colonies for slave labor in mines, military workshops and State industries - these had the hardest lives, and had to spend working in cramped and dangerous conditions.
  4. Gladiators - professional fighters who fought against each other and wild animals, for the entertainment of spectators
  5. Small workshops - making leather or silver goods or pots and pans
Freedom - No evidence to show that a slave ever regained his freedom.
- Egyptian slaves were also known to have been executed to accompany their deceased Pharaoh into the afterlife.
- A slave could get their freedom if given it by their owner
- Slaves could raise money and buy their freedom ? but a virtually impossible task while their masters still needed them.
- When a slave escaped the master could pursue the fugitive and ask the authorities for assistance in the recapture of the runaway.
- Ran away slaves were crucified
Marriage - Little information has survived related to the marriage of male slaves - no legal union was apparently possible
- Female slaves were taken as concubines or wives of masters, and gave birth to boys who were raised to the status of adopted sons. Many famous Pharaohs are the children of these couples, such a Thutmose 3, and Siptah
- Marriage between slaves was possible but enjoyed no protection in law.
- Masters favored the marriage of their slaves, as a form of investment to acquire more property and sell the children .

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Poll: Do you think it was possible for Rome to achieve a glorious army and a strong grip over vast frontiers without relying on enslavement?

Answers:
21%
264 votes

62%
754 votes

15%
183 votes

Total votes:
1201

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By Ayman Fadl - Copyright © 2001-2014