Roman Slaves

Many people were sold into slavery.

  • People captured during a battle would be imprisoned and returned to Rome to be sold.
  • Orphaned or abandoned children would be sold into slavery.
  • Some people were taken into slavery if they could not pay their taxes.
  • It was even possible for a father to sell his child into slavery if he needed the money.

Markets would be held in the city and the slaves would be paraded, sometimes naked before the audience with a placard around their neck giving details of them and the price.

Some commanded a better price than others and some were highly sought after.

A slave with a trade, for example a cook, could command a high price and so could a young fit slave as they could last for many years.

Slaves were used for many positions including Cook, Gardener, Maid, Hairdresser, Bodyguard, Dressmaker, Cleaner, Farm Worker, Tutor.

Slaves had a hard life and worked long hours but some that had a trade behind them would be well looked after by their owner, as they could be hard and expensive to replace.

It was possible for slaves to be given their freedom by their owner but this would only be when they were older and maybe not so useful. Slaves could also buy their freedom but this was very expensive and so virtually impossible for them.

Any children born to slaves automatically became slaves themselves.

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