View Full Version : The Roman Military-Slave Complex

January 4th, 2005, 02:24 AM
This is just a quick note on early Roman expansion and assimilation. Inspired by this (http://www.mysticwicks.com/showthread.php?t=79577) recent thread, for anyone interested. Read chapter 12 of T.J. Cornell's The Beginnings of Rome for more info.

No other classical culture had a habit of taking and manumitting more slaves than Rome. No one knows what precipitated this and no one knows the chicken or the egg, i.e. - whether Rome began to take an unprecedented number of slaves first, or whether Rome first decided to free a large number of her slaves before taking others. (Actually, no one has any evidence of this being a conscious effort on the part of the Roman Sentate, people or military.) Whatever the case, this process of freeing and taking large numbers of slaves did not exist at the beginning of the fourth century BC and was well underway by 350 BC.

Here's what happened.
1) Out of the kindness of their hearts (or out of necessity), Rome freed a large number of her slaves.
2) The unoccupied slave-owners now bolstered the ranks of the Legions making Roman victories inevitable.
3) When engagements were complete, an unheard of number of the vanquished people were then brought to Rome to make up for the slaves who were freed (in Step #1).
4) The Latinized offspring of these slaves (from Step #3) being unnecessary, were were freed and being unable to afford the expenses of living in Rome proper, became colonists in the conquered territories.

This process is how the Latins, specifically Romans, went from being an insignificant tribe on the banks of the Tiber to ruling the Mediterranean.