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Onasander

Why was slavery successful for so long?

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So.... in both Rome and the ancient world in general, slavery for the most part, seemed to work.

 

It worked really well. Seemed to morph in outlook between the Odyssey to the modern era several times, but usually not that hard to identify.

 

Certain eras seemed to of rejected it though. I'd say were sliding slowly back into a general acceptance of it, as long as it remains de jure illegal, put of sight, and most importantly, doesn't involve whites (don't know how else to put that last elephant in the room, if you exclude russians and ukrainian women as white, but do include the Japanese it seems rather accurate).

 

So our era, the more liberal and enlightened it gets, the more permissive it gets. We like out chocolate, smart phones, and tuna cheap.... don't all that much care how it's made, so long as it's cheap.

 

I don't think, however.... this most enlightened bottom line of commercially driven socialism was what motivated the Romans. Or the Greeks. Or Chinese, Persians.... anyone.

 

So is there a general theory any of you hold to as to why slavery sticks in a era, but not in another?

 

Aspects of the psychology being a slave eludes me.

 

The hardest paradox I've seen spatially between Freedom and Servitude occured here where I live, on Browns Island, West Virginia..... which is in the Ohio River, and in nearly every direction of the compass, if you just wandered off, yould be in free territory in a matter of minutes to a hour.... you can literally throw a rock from the island and hit the free state of ohio to it's east, and west virginia is only three miles thick here to the west, then the free state of Pennsylvania. Directly North the state peters out, and you have northing but free state. It's hard to mess up a escape. Sometimes the river would dry up ankle deep. The cost of keeping slaves put seemed to overstretch the imagination well beyond practicality. Yould have to keep them permanently in chains, never letting your eyes off one, least they take off and be gone over the hills in a minute flat.

 

Yet.... they managed. Unbelievable, they convinced them to stay. I knowof only a handful of suggested methods, like splitting family members up and threatening them with reprisal... might work sometimes.... but not often enough, and families were sold here all the time anyway.

 

I know of the Nietzschean Slave Master Morality, but is a obvious dead end here. Doesn't begin to explain the acceptance as to why the slaves would so willingly stay put, or how a slave owning society could exist in such close proximity to non slave populations.

 

I'm drawn to Sparta and Athens for a parallel, but the freedom loving Athenians had more Slaves, and to me it seems a better life to be a relatively free spartan slave vs a athenian slave.

 

Anyone has any insights?

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Did slavery work well? On the one hand it is remarkably easy for one individual to impose their will upon another, a fact known to psychiatrists and police officers. Slavery was also an accepted part of life in ancient times almost everywhere. On the other hand, slaves weren't always doing their best for their master, though I note that the Romans were insidious and manipulative as much as overbearing.

 

Cicero comlains in his letters about how the slaves he sent as postmen were losing the documents and turning up at the receiving address pleading for assistance. The issue of runaway slaves was always a factor in Roman society. One senator suggested that all slaves should be required to wear some identifying sign or clothing, which was turned down on the grounds that if they did so, slaves would realise how many of them there were.

 

There's no doubt that some slaves had themselves a very unpleasant and sometimes short life. Rural labourers, especially miners and quarriers, were most at risk of serious injury or other work related death. Gladiators tended to be exceptional however. It seems that the very real risks of swordfighting for a career helped create a mood where these slaves were only too keen to please their masters, aided no doubt by the generous rewards for their risks, the possibility of freedom and status, the familia system in the schools, and no shortage of concern from the Roman authorities that another evolt like the obne led by Spartacus was not going to happen again (and it didn't - the Romans had learned their lesson). Some household slaves got treated pretty badly too. One serious downside was that if required to give evidence at a trial, a slave would have to be tortured by law to prevent the slave simply telling the court what his owner had told him too. Then again, slaves were not human beings by legal definition among the Romans. Because they had no fre will, they were judged to be en par with animals.

 

On the other hand enslavement was a potential route to better prosperity if you could ensure your skills were sold to an owner who could use them to his advantage, and some slaves were trusted so much that they were allowed to have a virtual family, run businesses, or even become close associates of their master - and of course, there was always a possibility of manumission for those the owner favoured.

 

Overseers were recruited from among the slaves - this was a feature primarily of the industrial slaves, giving a few a chance to gain some status and power which of course kept them furiously loyal.

 

So did it work well? Sometimes. In some cases, it was a difficult thing that required careful handling.

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If your talking about the imposing of will known to police and psychologists as the "Slave - Master Morality", that doesn't last very long.

 

The obvious evidence for this the extremes many penal facilities have to go..... you have the three big monoamine neural transmitters.... Noradrenaline, Serotonin, and Dopamine running wild, as discern from The Lovheim Cube.... with very few neural inhibitors in play.... we just build a cage and more walls and expect everyone to come out fine.

 

Same for whipping, beating, torturing individuals.... it CAN indeed trigger a Monoamine collapse, but it also favors a pure Dopamine reaction..... fear, instead of just shame and humiliation one would achieve without it. If one is made alternately fearful or angry, you begin to migrate quickly out of the ideal conditions a slave, or prisoner should be in, into the full range of the fight or flight response.

 

You add a few occasions where the slave or prisoner have success or self confidence inspired contra or without the master/ wards, you have genuinely experienced joy, excitement, surprise.... you can't remain under someone elses control with a mere threat of a whip for long. You have some Shawshank Redemption stuff going on.

 

Given how tightly related the monoamine neuraltransmitters are (wiki the lovheim cube) I fail to see just how well and long slavery lasted, in societies so prone to making a distinction of status to literally everyone. They had to inform the lowest slave they indeed were a slave, this it your lot.... this is what you get, and this is ours. Entire systems of mores and etiquette had to be remembered.

 

Makes me reconsider tyrants like Claudius who treated noble relatives as easily disposable slaves, given death.... a new light. Seneca the Younger hit him on this.

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I think why you have some comparatively few slave revolts in Rome is due to the stratisfication (I think that's the word I want?) of slaves. A secretary in the imperial household had almost nothing in common with a field slave. It seems slaves could be quite snobbish about their roles. So there was no consensus about bettering their lot, plus with roman slavery it was a transient state. You could well buy your freedom so for those in relatively comfortable positions was it worth risking crucifixion or running into the unknown when if you saved your coins and waited you could be a full citizen?

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In relation to slavery in Greece. The helots did frequently revolt against Sparta, hence Spartas loathing of wars too far from their own territory. But then the helots had a shared identity of being messenians.

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Makes me reconsider tyrants like Claudius who treated noble relatives as easily disposable slaves

Claudius, a tyrant? Which Claudius are we discussing? If anything, the Julio-Claudian Claudius was much more disposed to showing some humanity toward slaves. He witnessed some abandoned on an island to die of illness and made such abandonment illegal thereafter.

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Claudius of the Apocolocyntosis

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocolocyntosis

 

I finally have a translation partner working with me, and we discovered we were translating a significant parallel text that if not ancestral to this text attributed to Seneca the Younger (my gut says it's the original, but were still having issues with someone elses name popping up twice in hard to translate lines claiming to be author).... is very closely related somehow.... but is unexpectedly different too, like it's the original.... that got seriously reworked later to include claudius.

 

I recognized early it had something to do with the text, and made translating easier once we grasped this. I've been looking up anything and everything anything mentioned, from the imperial genius to Di indigetes and sol... and scrutenizing the living daylights out of classical formations of temples.

 

It seems the text of the wikilink I gave you pretty accurately satricizes Post Augustan era mores regarding the upper roman class structure.

 

I'm still searching out alot of variables right now, no rush. The way emperor's were accepted and rejected for becoming gods reveal alot about the roman mindset and class structure, especially how.... rather useless they were once gods. They lacked any superpowers, just sorta hung out.

 

You'll get the text in a few months.

Edited by Onasander

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I'm still searching out alot of variables right now, no rush. The way emperor's were accepted and rejected for becoming gods reveal alot about the roman mindset and class structure, especially how.... rather useless they were once gods. They lacked any superpowers, just sorta hung out.

 

The problem with ROman pagan practises is that it didn't have the Christian idea of commitment. Whereas a christian is pious, observes rituals, engages in social activity, and does the right thing in order that God judges him worthy of assistance, the Romans took the same relationship as their client/patron system. In other words, a pagan Roman goes to the temple or shrine - in essence the atrium of the higher planes - and requests a favour from his chosen god on a personal level, sarificing in order to 'buy' favour by way of a gift. Please note there is evidence that shrines had market stalls next door in many cases where minor offerings could be bought for use in these sessions, for that Roman executive with a busy lifestyle. pagan demands were usually quite childish and selfish, such as wishing a curse upon someone who had slighted them.

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Yeah.....um,sorry Caldrail, though your quite correct, this text.... deals with the very opposite conclusion, I'm literally shaking right now having realized the damn implications of what we translated, and I am nervous as hell. It's causing several eureka moments every few minutes now, and I'm starting to make some widespread connections from other texts that just never occurred to me.

 

I'm afraid, if this is correct, we're going to have to adjust our conclusions about a few things. This is scaring me a bit given how much heat for the next twenty years is going to be associated with this translation.

 

I'm going to get you a early copy so you can rip it apart and inform me how stupid I am, and tell me I'm wrong. I'm pin and needles right now.... it fundamentally changes the intellectual discourse of the partisanship of the early empire into factions, and gives a obvious reason why Nero would target Christians, the antagonisms were carried over.... from this political/theological strife.

 

I.... just wasn't expecting this at all. Not at all. It's freaking me out, and I don't want to touch it. It just shouldn't be. Not like this.

 

Your not wrong Caldrail, your just not right. It's like saying the US believed in just Democratic Party ideals, because that's the only coherent political theory future historians have easy access to. I just smacked upon the republican parties existence.... if you could apply that analogy to Rome.

 

Aggggggghhhhh, it's happening again.

 

Shucks....

 

We want to translate one of Galens works on blood after this. Can't be any surprises there.

 

Why me?

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One of the things I've learned from studying history is that things are never quite what you expected. There's always something you didn't know, always something that overturns your preconceptions, and always someone out there who knows more than you - and that applies to me too as I'm painfully aware. Some of the stuff I used to write on this site is hopelessly naive or just plain wrong. So be it. Life is a learning process.

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