The Ass That Was A Slave !

Harrill, J. Albert. “Slavery and Inhumanity.” Biblical Interpretation, vol. 21, no. 4-5, 2013, pp. 506–514., doi:10.1163/15685152-2145P0005.

This article entitled, “Slavery and Inhumanity:Keith Bradley’s Legacy on Slavery in New Testament Studies”, was written for a mature audience, and inparticularly well accomplished historians or a person interesed in history . The author J.A Harrill, mentions a historian/ writer ( Bradley) who he admires, for his determination in finding the truth. He discusses the widespread myth among historians that slavery in Rome wasn’t so bad compared to slavery elsewhere. These historians argued that slavery wasn’t that horrible because they weren’t many revolts recorded. Harrill ,however, states, “In contrast to the slavery-and-humanity research agenda of the Mainz Academy, Bradley’s career has revealed the very painful and often overlooked brutality in the history of Roman slavery. Bradley’s study of the Roman slave revolts, in particular, clearly shows how previous scholars had uncritically accepted the ancient slaveholders’ ideology in such sources, which believed that slaves became disgruntled only under violent abuse.” Harrill addresses that assumption, by saying,  “The world history of slavery reveals slave revolts to be extremely rare occurrences; only four outright slave wars are known: one in modern Haiti, two in ancient Sicily, and one led by Spartacus in ancient Italy.” He also mentioned a book that spoke of ass that embodied a slave. Harrill wrote, ” The transformation of the protagonist Lucius into a donkey recreates three key elements in the Roman enslavement process: (1) becoming a beast of burden; (2) suffering repeated beatings and randomly inflicted violence, including sexual violence; and (3) being sold and resold numerous times as a passive commodity.” The ass represented a slave in that he was abused heavily from its master and constantly being sold . He states that Bradley references this book to solidify his claims that slaves like asses during those times in Rome, were severely punished .

In Extracts from Ancient Texts Polybius, fragments from book – chapter 91, Polybius speaks about the unity of slaves. He writes, “For whenever anyone who has noticed the jealousy and hatred with which you are regarded by the citizens, has the courage to speak or act against the chiefs of the state he has the whole mass of the people ready to back him.”  Polybius was among many leaders that had been taken from Greece to Rome. However, e was able  to make connections with high officals. The statement he made shows how he also as a slave, empathized with the other  slaves and understood the need for a revolt among them.  Although I can’t tell from this statement how cruel the slaves were treated in Rome, its fair to think that slavery in Rome, wasn’t as subdued and as easy going, as some historians portray it to be.

Sharifa, Team Hestia