The enslavement of war captives by the Romans to 146 BC

Wickham, Jason
The enslavement of war captives by the Romans to 146 BC. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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War captives are generally thought to have comprised the main portion of the Roman slave supply during the Republic. Likewise, the result of mass enslavement through continuous war has been interpreted as a principle factor in the agricultural evolution in Italy from the second century BC which saw a significant increase in large plantation style farming (latifundia). The misconception of a male bias in agricultural labour has put a heavy influence on the need for an external supply of slaves rather than through reproduction. However, an analysis of documentary evidence suggests that wartime enslavement was more limited. Problems in supervising, transporting, and trading large numbers of slaves, as well as competing markets elsewhere in the Mediterranean, made immediate absorption of captives as slaves into the central Italian economy problematic. Furthermore, the vast majority of wartime enslavements occurred following the capture of cities, where larger numbers of civilian prisoners were taken, mostly comprising women, children and slaves. Ancient sources frequently exaggerated the number of war captives and often neglected to elaborate on the fate of those taken in war. Many modern historians have been far too quick to assume that prisoners were enslaved, which has given a disproportionate view of the importance of the contribution of war captives to the slave supply and their effect upon the growing slave population at Rome during the Republic. Such assumptions have left critical analysis wanting and, as a result, war captives have been largely neglected by Roman historians. This study attempts to address the gap in our analysis of these crucial practices in antiquity and to offer an explanation of how the taking of war captives was impacted by Rome’s changing socio-political and economic structures during the Republic.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Additional Information: Date: 2014-05 (completed)
Uncontrolled Keywords: captives, prisoners, slaves, esclaves, sklavere, war, warfare, Rome, Roman, ransom, vendere, passum, corona, iugum, captivi, aichmalotos
Subjects: ?? CC ??
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2014 14:48
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:42
DOI: 10.17638/00017893