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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Ancient slave owners often wanted to see slaves merely as extensions of their own social persona. Modern historians, however, have given increasing attention to ancient slaves as active social actors, and not just in exceptional circumstances such as rebellion. Slaves could have family lives and sometimes had a social existence with ties beyond that of their masters’ households. Our evidence (chiefly from Athens and from the Roman Empire) comes with considerable caveats. It is nonetheless clear that slave families, interaction between slaves of different households, and interaction between slave, freed, and free in wider society may have been greater than previously assumed, especially in Rome. It may even match what could be seen, for example, in the later slave societies of the urban USA and Brazil.

Keywords: Athens, Rome, slave families, slave rebellion, slave sociability, slave strategies, slaves, slaves and religion, slaves outside the household

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