« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
slavery. Almost every species of manual labor was considered degrading, because performed by slaves. Emigrants, foreigners, and all those who were not citizens, were in general compelled to resort to personal labor in order to obtain a subsistence. Consequently, in the view of public opinion, they were fit subjects for oppression and insult. They stood between the slaves and freemen, and felt little sympathy for either, and in case of an insurrection took part with the stronger. It was a grand defect in the Grecian forms of government, that they did not adequately provide for all the classes in the community. A large part of the population was cut off from all sympathy with the country. Where slaves abound, rich men can dispense with the labor of the poor, while the poor profit in no way from the prosperity of the rich. The consequences of this state of things form one of the most prominent features of Grecian history.
Greece was at length absorbed in the Roman Empire. Subsequently, the Roman slave-trade, in that part of the world, seems to have been mainly carried on at Delos. That island rose into importance, as a commercial place, after the fall of Corinth, and grew an entrepôt for trade of every sort, between the East and West, but principally for that in slaves. It was resorted to by the Romans more than by any other people, and the slave-trade which they encouraged was so brisk, that the port became proverbial for such traffic, and was capable, says Strabo, of importing and reexporting 10,000 slaves in a single day. The Cilician pirates made Delos the great staple for the sale of their captives, which was a very gainful part of their occupation. Delos ceased to be the great mart, after the Mithridatic war; and it seems probable, that, afterwards, the slave-trade was
transferred to the various ports nearest those countries whence the slaves came; and therefore, perhaps, to the cities upon the Euxine, to which the Romans might not have made direct voyages at an earlier time. Corinth was long the chief slave-mart of Greece, and, from its situation, was likely to have much communication with the ports on the eastern side of Italy; but we meet with no authority for believing, that the Romans resorted much thither for slaves, or other commodities, before their conquest of Greece.
In the epistles of Paul to the Grecian churches, there are a few allusions to slavery. Many of the poor chonix-measurers of Corinth, weary and heavy laden, doubtless welcomed with great eagerness the doctrines of the Gospel. Though among the foolish and weak and despised things of that luxurious metropolis, yet God chose them to be the freemen of the heavenly city. The instructions which Paul gave to them were of this tenor: "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant (doûλos)? care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman; likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."* The exhortation, which Paul gives to the Thessalonians respecting manual labor, shows what class of the community he was addressing.† The same Apostle directs Titus, who had been left in Crete, where peasants and slaves, bearing the name of Periæci, Clarota, and Mnoitæ, had existed from the earliest times, to "exhort servants to be obe
* 1 Cor. vii. 20-24.
† 1 Thess. iv. 11; 2 Thess. iii. 10-12.
dient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things."* The Apostle here adverts to those vices, to which slaves in all ages have been peculiarly addicted, pilfering and petulance. The maid at Philippi, who had the spirit of divination, or of a soothsaying demon, and who was very profitable to her masters, was doubtless a slave.†
There does not seem to have been any material difference, on the whole, between the treatment experienced by the slaves under the Grecian and the Roman governments. The Helots might have enjoyed some advantages from the fact that they were the property of the State, and lived away from the immediate control of masters, in a condition somewhat similar to that of the serfs of modern Russia; yet they were liable to the horrible cryptia. Previously to the reign of Antoninus Pius, the slave at Rome was much less protected by law and public feeling than the slave at Athens. At Sparta, slaves seem to have had hardly any hope of ever being admitted amongst freemen. At Athens, emancipation was frequent; but the privileges of citizens rarely followed, even to a limited extent, and were conferred by public authority only. At Rome, the lowest slave could always look forward to manumission, and to obtaining the rank of a citizen, through the sole will of his master. Still, the Romans, like the Greeks, never came so far from the original view, of slaves being the absolute property of their owner, as to consider the master's rights limited to the unpaid services of the slave, and his powers restricted to those of a domestic magistrate, for correction of slight
* Titus ii. 9, 10; also Aristotle's Politics, Book II.
† Acts xvi. 16.
misconduct, and for enforcement of obedience and exertion. *
The effect of Christianity, in meliorating the usage of slaves, though not sudden, was important. The various Christian Emperors issued decrees, abridging the power of masters, and raising slaves above the level of insentient creatures. The Church openly condemned the barbarous treatment of slaves. Clemens Alexandrinus, in the close of the second century, forbade the bishop to accept the oblations of cruel and sanguinary masters. At last Justinian did most to encourage improvement in the condition of bondmen, and to promote the ultimate extinction of slavery.†
* See William Blair's Inquiry into the State of Slavery among the Romans, London, 1833. Also Dunlop's History of Roman Literature. + Gibbon's Hist. Decline and Fall, Chap. XLIV.
ROMAN SLAVERY IN THE EARLY CENTURIES OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA.*
VARIOUS definitions are given by the Roman and other writers of the word servus. Scaliger derives it from servando, because the slave preserves or guards the property of his master. Slaves are denominated servi, says the Code of Justinian, from the verb servare, to preserve; for it is the practice of our generals to sell their captives; being accustomed to preserve and not to destroy them. Slaves are also called Mancipia, a manu capere, in that they are taken by the hand of the enemy. Just. Lib. I. Tit. 3. The origin of the word servus, says Augustine, De Civit. Lib. XIX. Cap. 15, is understood to be derived from the fact, that prisoners, who by the laws of war might have been put to death, were preserved by the victors, and made slaves. "Servus est nomen," says Seneca, "ex injuria natum.”† Servi, servitia, and mancipia are frequently used as convertible terms. The term for a slave born and bred in the family was verna.
*This Essay was published in the Biblical Repository for October, 1835, and was subsequently republished in Great Britain.
t Aristotle's definition of a slave was applicable to Italy, Polit. I. 6: κτῆμα καὶ ὄργανον τοῦ δεσπότου ἔμψυχον.