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Marcus Sidonius Falx is an average Roman citizen. Born of a relatively well-off noble family, he lives on a palatial estate in Campania, dines with senators and generals, and, like all of his ancestors before him, owns countless slaves.
Having spent most of his life managing his servantsвЂ”many of them prisoners from RomeвЂ™s military conquestsвЂ”he decided to write a kind of ownerвЂ™s manual for his friends and countrymen.
The result, The Roman Guide to Slave Management, is a sly, subversive guide to the realities of servitude in ancient Rome. Cambridge scholar Jerry Toner uses Falx, his fictional but true-to-life creation, to describe where and how to Romans bought slaves, how they could tell an obedient worker from a troublemaker, and even how the ruling class reacted to the inevitable slave revolts. Toner also adds commentary throughout, analyzing the callous words and casual brutality of Falx and his compatriots and putting it all in context for the modern reader.
Written with a deep knowledge of ancient cultureвЂ”and the depths of its crueltyвЂ”this is the Roman Empire as youвЂ™ve never seen it before.
In this creative text, Toner (Roman Disasters), classicist at Churchill College, Cambridge, вЂњtranslatesвЂќ a work of Marcus Sidonius Falx, a fictionalized average Roman citizen from a well-off noble family who offers his rationale for owning slaves, how to procure them, and how to treat them. Falx relates the story of when a small hoe banged his leg and a slave had the audacity to smirk. Falx ordered the slaveвЂ™s legs broken, but a guest from a German tribe, who found slavery distasteful, asked Falx to show mercy. The event was so thought provoking for Falx that he composed this treatise, written in a tone that feels both educated and archaically brutal. After each of FalxвЂ™s chapters, Toner offers commentary and explanations for modern readers, and the text as a whole is full of details on the history of the slave trade in the Mediterranean, how slaves came to be slaves (by owing a debt or being captured from a conquered land), the expenses incurred in owning slaves, and the prestige that came from being a slave master. Toner doesnвЂ™t condone FalxвЂ™s views, but his history and commentary provides context for the dirty institution upon which modern civilization is built. (Sept.)
- ">General & Miscellaneous Ancient Roman History
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