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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In Roman law slaves were chattels and persons at the same time. As persons, they were incapable of holding any rights. But this deficit led to their use as business agents because they could obtain rights for their masters, whereas free persons under classical Roman law could not. While the law tried to hold up the fiction that all slaves were the complete subjects of their masters and that no legal distinctions existed among slaves in this regard, their social positions, as reflected in the legal sources, differed widely. Since Roman jurists were confronted with almost all aspects of slavery, their writings show social differentiations between various types of slaves as far as these caused adjustments of their legal treatment. But at the same time the legal sources also document when, for the sake of the master’s interest or the public’s, social differences between slaves were levelled out.

Keywords: slave, slavery, acquisition through slaves, asylum, liability for slaves, natural obligation, peculium, prostitution, senatus consultum Silanianum, vinculum iuris

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