Slavery was a key institution in antiquity, but historians??? reconstructions of the lives of ancient Greek and Roman slaves have varied significantly, not just across time, but also between different countries today. Core assumptions made about the ancient slave can be subtly different in Germany (for example) than in the US or Britain. This book samples some of the different approaches available. It also examines why the differences exist and what they imply for those trying to discovery the ???reality??? of slave life. It raises key questions about how historians attempt to access the past and the impact that the nature of the evidence has on their work, even when this has not always been made explicit to the reader. Scholarly interpretations sometimes tell us more about the modern world than the ancient. Possible alternatives are explored.
McKeown has written a stimulating book that will challenge its readers to reflect on the difficulties inherent in writing the history of ancient slavery. Scholars who specialize in ancient slavery will inevitably disagree with some of McKeown s interpretations of both the ancient evidence and modern scholarship, but will still benefit from his critical orientation. Arguably, the book will be of most use to those who teach classes on ancient slavery, for it will force students to deal head-on with questions of methodology that are central to any effort to reconstruct the past.