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Intro to Ancient History Week 4: Arguments and Analysis.

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1 Intro to Ancient History Week 4: Arguments and Analysis

2 Why did Rome become a slave society? Because they had lots of war captives. Because slaves were a status symbol. Because there was a shortage of free labour. Because slaves could be more productive. Because slaves could be more profitable. Because they could not exploit the free poor. Because the Romans were inhumane and had a love of domination.

3 How to Evaluate Interpretations Fit with surviving evidence – but that can always be interpreted several ways. Economy: doesn t have to assume too much, and doesn t have to explain too much away. Fit with wider assumptions, theories and comparative evidence Deduction or induction?

4 Finley, Ancient Slavery & Modern Ideology Logically, the demand for slaves precedes the supply. The Romans captured many tens of thousands of men, women and children during the Italian and Punic wars because the demand for slaves already existed, not the other way round. Existence of a sufficient demand requires at least three necessary conditions. (p.86) Private ownership of land; a sufficient development of commodity production and markets; the unavailability of an internal labour supply.

5 Hopkins, Conquerors and Slaves Slaves were forcibly imported aliens who were exploited to a degree and in a way which citizens would not allow. Moreover, slavery fed on itself. The presence of a substantial number of slaves in Roman society defined Roman citizens, even if they were poor, as superior. At the same time, free citizens sense of superiority probably limited their willingness to compete with slaves, to work full time as the overt dependants of other citizens. Yet rich men, by definition, need dependants … (p.112)

6 Garnsey, Non-Slave Labour Instead of exaggerating the political risks involved in the reduction of the free peasantry to serfdom, we should give proper emphasis to the positive virtues of slavery from the point of view of the nobility. It should be obvious that because of the continuous demands that were made on the free labour force for military service, in a period of labour shortage, essential production could only be maintained through the importation of large numbers of slaves. (p.2)

7 What do we need to know? Price of slaves Productivity of slave and free labour Price of other commodities, especially land Population size and demographic structure of peasantry Level of military recruitment Mentality of Roman landowners Mentality of free poor

8 Developing debates At any point in time, some things are taken for granted as reliably established; debate focuses on the other issues. New arguments normally based not on new evidence but on new interpretations, above all by calling into question things previously taken for granted. Attitudes of poor; economic behaviour of rich; population size and military recruitment.

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