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Roman SlavesEmperor Hadrian

Roman Slaves were often the people that the Romans had captured in battle. They were returned to Rome as the spoils of war.

Roman Slaves were bought and sold at markets.

Rich Roman households could have many slaves, sometimes hundreds.

Poorer Romans would have no slave and would have to do all the work themselves.

Roman Slaves were the property of their masters and were slaves until the day they died. The only ways a slave could become free were if they paid their master the same amount of money as he had spent in purchasing the slave; or, if the master of the slave for some reason gave the slave freedom.

Children of Roman Slaves also became slaves belonging to the same master.

Roman Slaves that had a useful or productive skill, were highly valued and would be well looked after. A Roman Master who had spent a lot of money purchasing a slave who was an excellent cook would want to make sure he got value for money and lots of good cooking out of the slave - so the slave was cared for, fed well and kept comfortable. This enabled the slave to do his/her job better.

Roman Slaves would have done all the chores for their masters. Cooking, cleaning, fetching and carrying, helping with dressing, looking after children and mending and repairing.

Some Roman slaves had very dangerous or back-breaking work. Working down mines, slaves were often only fed and watered enough to keep them working - and an unskilled mine slave could be easily and cheaply replaced.

The Roman Slave's Work page has more information on the kind of work a Roman Slave might have done.

The Roman Slave's Homes page has more information on the kind of home a Roman Slave might have had.

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A bust of the Emperor Hadrian (c)2000 Princeton Economic Institute justin Paola - Ancient Rome History Resource Hadrians Roman Life in the times of Emperor Hadrian

The Emperor Hadrian ruled for 21 years from A.D. 117 until A.D. 138, when the Empire of Ancient Rome was at its height.

The Emperor Hadrian consolidated and strengthened The Roman Empire. He was The Roman Emperor responsible for the building of Hadrian's Wall in England.

Hadrian was one of the most remarkable and talented of all the Emperors of Rome.... more about Emperor Hadrian
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Treat Roman Slaves Well

Seneca, a Roman Writer, actually advised people to take care of and look after their slaves. This is what he said:

Seneca: There is a proverb: "you have as many enemies as you have slaves." But in truth, we make them our enemies. We abuse them as if they were beasts of burden. When we recline for dinner, one wipes our spittle, another picks up the scraps and crumbs thrown down by drunkards. The point of my argument is this: "treat your inferior as you would like to be treated."


The most famous (to us) Roman Slave that we know about is Spartacus. He led a rebellion of slaves in Ancient Rome and his slave army battled and defeated powerful Roman Legions. Eventually, Spartacus and his army of Roman Slaves were defeated and all the slaves who survived the battle were killed as an example to all the other slaves of Ancient Rome.

Field Slaves and Farm Workers

In the countryside of the Roman Empire slaves were used to work the land. Field Slaves would have to look after crops and care for animals. These kind of slaves were often poorly treated getting minimum food and inadequate accomodation. big farms were worked by slave field-hands, who were often very badly treated.

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