Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.07.30

Heinz Bellen, Heinz Heinen, Fünfzig Jahre Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei an der Mainzer Akademie, 1950-2000: Miscellanea zum Jubiläum. Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei 35.   Stuttgart:  Franz Steiner, 2001.  Pp. xiv, 557; pls. 2.  ISBN 3-515-07968-8.  EUR 74.00.  

Contributors: Heinz Bellen, Jürgen Blänsdorf, Johannes Christes, Johannes Deissler, Heike Grieser, Heinz Heinen, Elisabeth Herrmann-Otto, Peter Herz, Gerhard Horsmann, Hans Klees, Richard Klein, Fridolf Kudlien, Anastassia Maximova, Hermann Nehlsen, Günter Prinzing, Christoph Schäfer, Dorothea Schäfer, Reinhold Scholl, Leonhard Schumacher, Hans Reinhard Seeliger, Heikki Solin, Alfred Söllner, Andreas Wacke, Wolfgang Waldstein, Ingomar Weiler, Karl-Wilhelm Welwei, Reinhard Willvonseder


Reviewed by J. Albert Harrill, Indiana University (jharrill@indiana.edu)
Word count: 3335 words

This volume celebrates the jubilee anniversary of the research program on ancient slavery that Joseph Vogt (1895-1986) initiated fifty years ago under the auspices of the Mainz Academy of Science and Literature. The work of the Mainz Academy has not gained widespread respect from scholars outside the German-speaking world, due in part to its lack of interaction with non-German scholarship and to M. I. Finley's harsh critique (over twenty years ago) of its use of ancient slavery as a springboard for modern ideological polemics. The approach of the essays in this collection generally follows that of the Mainz project, to provide detailed studies of particular aspects of ancient slavery in the belief that such empirical work is necessary before creating some overarching picture of how slavery functioned in antiquity.1

Part I. Im Gedenken an Joseph Vogt. Anastassia Maximova, "Joseph Vogt und die Begründung seines Sklavereiprojekts aus russischer Sicht," 3-10.

Part II. Der Sklave: Mensch oder Sache? Heinz Bellen, "Vom halben zum ganzen Menschen: Der Übergang aus der Sklaverei in die Freiheit im Spiegel des antiken und früchristlichen Freilassungsbrauchtums," 13-30; Wolfgang Waldstein, "Zum Menschsein von Sklaven," 31-50; Richard Gamauf, "Zur Frage 'Sklaverei und Humanität' anhand von Quellen des römischen Rechts," 51-72; Karl-Wilhelm Welwei, "Piraterie und Sklavenhandel in der frühen römischen Republik," 73-82; Alfred Söllner, "Der Kauf einer Sklavin, beurkundet in Ravenna um die Mitte des 2. Jahrhunderts n. Chr.," 83-96; Reinhard Willvonseder, "Kinder mit Geldwert: Zur Kollision von Sackwert und persönlicher Wertschätzung im römischen Recht," 97-109.

Part III. Freiheit und Bürgerrecht. Ingomar Weiler, "Eine Sklavin wird frei: Zur Rolle des Geschlechts bei der Freilassung," 113-32; Andreas Wacke, "Manumissio matrimonii causa: Die Freilassung zwecks Heirat nach den Ehegesetzen des Augustus," 133-58; Reinhold Scholl, "'Freilassung unter Freunden' im römischen Ägypten," 159-70; Elisabeth Herrmann-Otto, "Soziale Mobilität in der römischen Gesellschaft: Persönliche Freiheit im Spiegel von Statusprozessen," 171-84; Peter Herz, "Das Bürgerrechtsdekret von Ephesos: Inschriften von Ephesos 8. Gedanken zur Gesellschaft im spätrepublikanischen Kleinasien," 185-207.

Part IV. Arbeitswelt -- Begrifflichkeit. Christoph Schäfer, "Die Rolle der actores in Geldgeschäften," 211-24; Gerhard Horsmann, "Sklavendienst, Strafvollzug oder Sport? Überlegungen zum Charakter der römischen Gladiatur," 225-42; Dorothea Schäfer, "Frauen in der Arena," 243-68 (with plate); Fridolf Kudlien, "Drei antike textilverarbeitende Berufe und ihr Vertreter," 269-80; Hans Klees, "Autourgia als Wertbegriff der griechischen Gesellschaft in klassischer und nachklassischer Zeit," 281-306; Heikki Solin, "Griechische und römische Sklavennamen: Eine vergleichende Untersuchung," 307-30; Leonhard Schumacher, "Hausegesinde -- Hofgesinde: Terminologische Überlegungen zur Funktion der familia Caesaris im 1. Jh. n. Chr.," 331-52; Günter Prinzing, "Zu einigen speziellen 'Sklaven'-Belegen im Geschichtswerk des Byzantiners Ioannes Skylitzes," 353-62.

Part V. Christentum und Sklaverei. Hans Reinhard Seeliger, "Der Tertullusprozess: Zum Besitz christlicher Sklaven im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert," 365-80; Heike Grieser, "Asketische Bewegungen in Kleinasien im 4. Jahrhundert und ihr Haltung zur Sklaverei," 381-400; Richard Klein, "Der Kirchenvater Hieronymus und die Sklaverei: Ein Einblick," 401-25.

Part VI. Die Sklaverei im antiken und modernen Urteil. Johannes Christes, "Sklaverei in griechischen Sprichwörtern und Sentenzen," 429-46; Jürgen Blänsdorf, "Zum Thema der Sklaverei in Ciceros Briefen," 447-56; Johannes Deissler, "Friedrich Nietzsche und die antike Sklaverei," 457-84.

Part VII. Sklaverei am Rande der antiken Welt. Heinz Heinen, "Sklaverei im nördlichen Schwarzmeerraum: Zum Stand der Forschung," 487-504 (with plate); Hermann Nehlsen, "Die servi, ancillae und mancipia der Lex Baiuvariorum: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Sklaverei in Bayern," 505-21.

Maximova opens the collection with a biographical essay of Vogt's life and work, with attention to his interest in the Russian language and Soviet scholarship. M. argues that, from a Russian point of view, Vogt's Mainz Academy offers an good example of the changes in German historiography over the past 60 years. She locates Vogt's emphasis on "humanity" as the theme of universal history in his personal experiences in the two world wars and the overthrow of the totalitarian Nazi regime.

Bellen examines various ritual elements and paraphernalia of the ancient manumission ceremony -- drinks (wine and water), white garments, celebratory meals, wreathing, the slap (alapa) and spin of the slave -- to make a parallel between manumission and Christian baptism. According to B., ancient baptismal liturgy was a "Christianization of the pagan rite of manumission" (28). Yet B. makes sweeping claims about difficult texts with remarkable ease, jumping from Homer to Frankish and Byzantine sources with little attention to cultural differences or regional variations. I found disappointing B.'s lumping together of Christian evidence from different periods and geographies into a universal, monochrome "ritual" of baptism, without regard to recent patristic scholarship revealing the diversity of early Christianity.

Waldstein traces a "clear trajectory" (45) from Aristotle through Seneca to Ulpian of a legal principle "nach Naturrecht" that stressed the formal equality of all people, including slaves. Ulpian's legal protection of slaves and freed slaves, then, attests to the practical consequences of this forward march of humanitarianism to ameliorate the condition of slaves and freedmen in classical antiquity. I do not find this essay convincing. W. quotes from the Digest without attention to the methodological problem of using law codes as evidence for social practice. W. also fails to engage the important recent work of Roman social historians who argue persuasively that Stoic philosophers and Roman legal authors urged so-called humanitarian treatment out of a concern for the masters and not the slaves, in order to teach Roman ideologies of mastery, to ensure social stability, and to reinforce the social and legal institution of slavery.2

More successful is the essay by Gamauf, who goes beyond questions of "humanity" as an ideal philosophical or socio-political concept to examine case studies of the mundane practice of slavery in the Digest. Focusing on the psychological aspects of slave "mentalities," G. examines in particular the Aedilician Edict regulating the market against defects in slave merchandise. From these case studies, G. finds slavery to be a relationship of personal cooperation and negotiated space between master and slave, not absolute dehumanizing control. The thesis would have been strengthened had G. connected this insight to standard theoretical discussions in the field, which understand slavery to be a relation of power and violence, not solely of property, e.g., Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982).

Welwei examines piracy and kidnapping as a source of slaves in the early Republic, focusing on the Roman-Carthaginian treaties of 508 and 348 BCE (Polyb. 3.22.1-13; 3.24.1-13). The treaty provision that allows the abduction of Latins "not subject to Rome" by Carthaginian seafarers and marauders provides the earliest extant evidence of the relationship between piracy and the slave trade in Roman history. W. finds that Rome tolerated Carthaginian piracy because it benefited Rome's hegemony over coastal Latin cities.

Söllner offers a translation and detailed commentary of a slave sale contract in the Giessen University papyri collection , P. Giss. 566 (= Riccobono, FIRA III. 134). S. notes its date (151 CE or earlier), physical properties (part of a triptych), legal formulae (use of stipulatio), and the individuals specified in the instrument (the trader, the female slave, the praetorian fleet soldier in Ravenna who purchases her, and the sales official). S. explains the document through the Aedilician Edict.

Willvonseder lays out various texts from the Digest and Code in search of a "general legal principle" ruling when a master fathers a child with a female slave. Such children followed the legal status of their slave mother and not the free father. W. finds that slave children had for their masters/fathers a personal, sentimental value often greater than their cash value as property. Unfortunately, most of W.'s analysis is a pastiche of quotations from the legal sources.

One of the few in the volume engaging English-language scholarship on slavery, Weiler's essay tests the hypothesis that female slaves were manumitted more frequently than male slaves. W. looks at gender as a variable in Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman sources, including the Delphic manumission inscriptions. Although careful not to make monocausal claims, W. nonetheless maintains that, in general, girls and women had greater opportunities to attain freedom than men through manumission for prostitution, concubinage, and even legitimate marriage to the former master, now patron.

Examining cases of marriage between a patron and his liberta in the jurists, Wacke contends that manumission for the purpose of marriage served as a "vehicle of social mobility" for freedwomen, but not for freedmen in the same way (155). Such manumissio matrimonii causa reveals the "humanitarian impulse in Roman slavery" -- masters not always interested in profit motives but instead having sympathy and strong emotional feelings toward their slaves -- proving that slavery cannot be described from the materialistic perspective of Marxist historiography (140). Yet W.'s claim of manumission being a "humanizing impulse" of Roman slavery ignores another impulse -- enslavement of new people in massive numbers and often by brutal violence to replace those manumitted. The essay is the only one in the volume with a bibliography.

Scholl compares three papyrus documents from Egypt in order to provide a legal commentary on the manumission procedure known as manumissio inter amicos: Mitteis, Chr. 362 (= Meyer, Jur. Pap. 8); P. Oxy. IX. 1205 (= CPJ III. 473); P. Lips. II. 151. This so-called formless type of informal manumission in fact, S. argues, followed a certain pattern of specific Greek and Latin legal formulae. Unfortunately, S. does not address recent scholarship on P. Oxy. IX 1205 that connects the forms to those used in Jewish manumission practices.3

Herrmann-Otto writes on social mobility in light of Roman lawsuits about juridical status, in particular the process of legal fiction that declared a freed slave freeborn. H.-O. says that manumission did serve as a vehicle for upward social mobility, but she also discusses downward cases, such as the sale of one's children into slavery and self sale. She argues that the constraints of a slave-based economic system and of a hierarchical-modeled society promoted in Late Antiquity the paradox of one's social status often not being identical to one's juridical status (183).

Herz analyzes an inscription from Ephesus (dating to about 85 BCE) that decrees a moratorium on debts and full citizenship to various nonfree groups (IK I. 8 = Syll.3 742). H. examines the juridical status of the five categories of persons mentioned in the text -- paroikoi, hieroi, exeleutheroi/demosioi, isoteleis, and xenoi -- in light of the stratified aristocratic society of Hellenistic Ephesus. H. argues that the decree was not some spontaneous fit of generosity but a very calculated political move at the end of the First Mithradatic War.

Christoph Schäfer discusses the question of legal agency in light of the controversy between M. I. Finley and Jean Andreau about the professionalization of banking and loan institutions in the ancient economy. S. examines different kinds of business managers and agents in Roman law and society. Although there was no concept of agency in Roman law, S. finds that slaves and freedmen/women did act as de facto financial agents in a variety of positions: vilici, actores, procuratores, dispensatores, coactores, and argentarii.

Using European and American sports sociology, Horsmann asks whether gladiatorial combat was a "sport" in antiquity. He divides the literature on this question into two camps: the first claims that the term for the premodern world is anachronistic because the phenomenon of "sport" is a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century idea related to the quantification of the child during the industrial revolution; the second, that sport is a universal biological-anthropological component of human existence (237). Gladiatorial combat does not satisfy the sociological definition of sport, H. argues, when it involves unfree contestants. However, it is unclear why the question must be decided by modern sociological categories and not, for example, by examining ancient debates over the meaning of sport.

Dorothea Schäfer surveys the evidence for female gladiators and animal fighters in literary, epigraphic, archaeological, and legal sources. S. argues that women in the arena were equipped, armed, and fought in the same manner as the men; some even attended gladiatorial schools (collegia iuvenum). Like male gladiators, most women were slaves or freedpersons, having comparable slave names. S. also examines the ancient literary association of female gladiators and prostitutes.

Kudlien analyzes the Greek and Latin vocabulary of three occupations and agencies in ancient cloth manufacture and repair: embroiderers, patchwork-menders/sewers, and tailors/cobblers. K. finds slaves and freedpersons in these jobs, alongside free workers. The essay is mostly of lexical interest, especially in defining the terms for low-status textile artisans mentioned in Diocletian's price edict.

Klees examines the development of autourgia (personal labor as opposed to slave labor) in Greek moral philosophy from the fifth century BCE to the third century CE. Initially referring to the work of agricultural manual laborers unable to afford slaves, the term, K. argues that the term took on an expanded meaning in the Hellenistic and Roman periods beyond describing an economic necessity of the poor to designating a philosophical therapy for individual moral growth. K. examines autourgia and autarky as a philosophical ideal among Cynic, Stoic, and Neopythagorean writers in order to establish a Hellenistic precursor to, and source of, the ethics we find in early Christianity, such as Clement of Alexandria's exhortation to rely less on slave labor in the household. K. pushes his thesis too far, however, when he claims that this philosophical ideal condemned not only the moral vice of luxury but also the very institution of slavery.

Solin compiles onomastic statistical data from inscriptions on the most common slave names in Athens and in Rome. He finds a large discrepancy in nomenclature: the Roman data contain fewer toponyms and ethnic monikers and more mythological, literary, and metonymic nicknames than the Athenian. This challenges the assumption of previous scholarship that in Rome typically only geographical names were used as slave names. S. also finds that Latin servile cognomina did not have a wide reception in the Greek East. An appendix amending previous studies lists uncertain Attic slave names.

Schumacher investigates whether the terminology of the familia Caesaris in the early Principate reflects the state administration of a Hellenistic-style royal court (aula) or the private domestic service of a large aristocratic household (domus). While imperial freedmen held administrative offices, S. concludes, the first-century emperors emphasized the household model with its language of domestic service and patron-client relations; the term "court" was used to criticize bad emperors such as Gaius and Nero. However, says S., an imperial court that combined domestic and public fiscal administration became a legally-defined institution by the Antonine Age.

Prinzing compares so-called slave-references in the historical work of John Scylitzes (after 1040 to ca. 1125 CE) with those in other Byzantine sources. By sharpening the analysis of exactly where and to what extent we find traces of slavery in chronicler's writings, P. moves beyond the secondary literature generalizations that slavery was "massively practiced" by large-scale Anatolian landholders in Byzantine society.

Seeliger provides a text-critical commentary on the Martyrdom of Ariadne, preserved in two late versions (Latin and Syriac) -- the account of a Christian slave owned by a pagan owner named Tertullus, who was tortured for refusing to participate in household pagan celebrations. By comparison with protocols in Roman law and actual trial records (commentarii), S. argues that the versions contain authentic older material about the criminal charges and juridical procedures that goes back to the historical event (ca. 200 CE). This empirical approach, however, is problematic in light of recent patristic scholarship that reads early Christian martyrdom as discourse rather than a "thing" and transcript.4

In a nuanced essay, Grieser examines Canon 3 of the Synodical Letter of the Council of Gangra (ca. 355) condemning the otherwise unknown ascetical "partisans of Eustathius," who among other things "encourage slaves to leave their masters." G. re-examines the thesis that this Canon confirms the existence of radical movements in ancient Christian monasticism, which had a so-called social-revolutionary impulse to reject slavery and to invite slaves to run away from owners. G. surveys the position on slavery taken by the Council of Gangra, Eustathius of Sebaste, Epiphanius of Salamis, Amphilochius of Iconium, the Messalians, The Acts of Philip, Basil of Caesarea and his sister Macrina. G. finds among the different monastic groups in fourth-century Asia Minor little evidence for attacks against slavery in the modern sense of revolution or abolition.

Related is Klein's essay on slaves and masters in the writings of Jerome. Focusing on non-metaphorical usage, K. examines Jerome's letters and biblical commentaries for references to household slaves (including wet-nurses, eunuchs, and runaways) and their owners who go into monastic life. K. shows that Jerome in Stoic philosophical tradition rejects Aristotle's definition of "natural slaves" but nonetheless in his glorification of the ascetic ideal makes negative judgments about slaves which are characteristic of other church fathers. K. finds the example of Paul -- especially the domestic codes in Ephesians and Titus, and the letter to Philemon -- to be a major influence on Jerome's position on slavery. Overall, the analysis is good, but K.'s citation of Pauline scholarship is limited and outdated.5

Christes assembles Greek proverbs, aphorisms, and literary quotations about slaves and slavery from classical and Byzantine paroemiographers. C. asserts that gnomic sayings, like those of Euripidean drama and Hellenistic philosophy, "recognize slaves as humans with feelings and worth" (446). Regrettably, J.'s analysis goes little beyond repeating this assertion from Vogt. For example, the domestic enemy proverb of Seneca, Ep. 47.5, deserves critical examination deeper than simply a reference (442). In the end, J. merely collects a laundry list of disparate apophthegmata, without detailed historical and contextual analysis of the literature from which the quotations are excerpted.

Blänsdorf examines references to slaves and freedmen in Cicero's correspondence. He reviews the servile occupations mentioned (scribes, managers, librarians, teachers, physicians, architects), notes the metaphorical usages of slavery, and emphasizes Cicero's sympathy and affectionate feelings for some (but not all) servile dependents as trusted confidants and "friends." B. does not consider the possibility, however, that this friendship language may reflect patron-client conventions. Overall, the analysis is far too cursory and lacks engagement with scholarly literature. The essay is the only one in the volume without footnotes, but promises that a more comprehensive treatment is in progress.

In contrast stands Diesler's well-researched piece surveying the topic of ancient slavery in Nietzsche's works chronologically. Particularly insightful is D.'s examination of Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy and his provocative statement on the cultural necessity of slavery for Greek civilization, in the context of nineteenth-century German Neohumanism and Schopenhauer's moral philosophy. D. includes discussion of Nietzsche's influence on classical studies.

In a bibliographic essay, Heinen reviews the state of research on ancient slavery in the northern Black Sea. The goal is to make the scholarly literature, much of which is epigraphic, archaeological, or in Russian, accessible to a wider audience of ancient historians. H. highlights recent archaeological findings yielding several new inscriptions, such as private letters on lead tablets (quoted in full here), as a welcome supplement to the later literary evidence. Topics include Soviet historiography, the Black Sea slave trade, the Bosporus Kingdom, and ancient Scythia.

Nehlsen writes on the terms for slaves in the Lex Baiuvariorum, one of the pre-Carolingian barbarian law codes produced between the sixth and eighth centuries. N. examines the improvement of the legal standing of the slave and the restrictions on masters' rights in the codification of late Roman and Visigothic law.

Overall, this volume celebrates the humanity that persisted in the slave despite the brutality of the ancient system, an overarching research agenda of Joseph Vogt. In terms of methodology and choice of source material, the essays for the most part reconstruct the social and economic conditions of ancient slavery through Roman slave law. This legal approach is understandable, given the importance of law as a Roman institution and its coherence as a body of evidence; but in terms of being representative of current research on ancient slavery it is behind the times. Nonetheless, several essays go beyond the traditional legal approach and should be read by all scholars of slavery: Weiler on the manumission of female slaves, Solin on slave names, Grieser on monasticism, Klein on Jerome, Diessler on Nietzsche, and Heinen on the Black Sea slave trade.


Notes:


1.   T. E. J. Wiedemann, "Fifty Years of Research on Ancient Slavery: The Mainz Academy Project," Slavery and Abolition 21 (2000): 152-57; Joseph Vogt, Ancient Slavery and the Ideal of Man, trans. Thomas Wiedemann (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974); M. I. Finley, Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology, expanded edition, ed. Brent Shaw (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1998).
2.   Keith R. Bradley, Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 113-37; idem, "Seneca and Slavery," C & M 37 (1986): 161-72; Miriam T. Griffin, Seneca, a Philosophy in Politics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 256-85, 458-61; Brent D. Shaw, "The Divine Economy: Stoicism as Ideology," Latomus 44 (1985): 16-54.
3.   J. Albert Harrill, The Manumission of Slaves in Early Christianity, Hermenutische Untersuchungen zur Theologie 32 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995), 172-78; cf. E. Leigh Gibson, The Jewish Manumission Inscriptions of the Bosporus Kingdom, Texte und Studien zum antiken Judentum 75 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999).
4.   Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism, Figurae: Reading Medieval Culture (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 94; Elizabeth A. Castelli, "Visions and Voyeurism: Holy Women and the Politics of Sight in Early Christianity," Protocol of the Colloquy of the Center for Hermeneutical Studies n.s. 2 (1995), 12; Judith B. Perkins, The Suffering Self: Pain and Narrative in the Early Christian Era (London: Routledge, 1995), 104-23; J. Albert Harrill, "The Domestic Enemy: A Moral Polarity of Household Slaves in Early Christian Apologies and Martyrdoms," in Early Christian Families in Context: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach, ed. David Balch and Carolyn Osiek (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), in press.
5.   See now Jennifer A. Glancy, Slavery in Early Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Harrill, Manumission of Slaves, 68-128.

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