This ground-breaking book is the first to show how the institution of slavery, one of the most characteristic and enduring features of Roman imperial society, was maintained over time and how, at the practical level, the lives of slaves in the Roman world were directly controlled by their masters. The author demonstrates, first, how the tensions generated between slaves and masters can be perceived in the ancient sources, and, second, how those tensions were dealt with, as masters treated their slaves with varying forms of generosity and punishment in order to elicit obedience from them. Special attention is given to the slaves' family lives, to their acquisition of freedom through manumission, and to the climate of violence that surrounded them. Emphasizing the harsh realities of Roman slavery in a new way, this important book will stir intense debate among scholars and students.
"A first-rate book....Excellent in drawing out the basic facts, and giving a wholly convincing interpretation....Clear, compassionate and compelling."--JACT
"An informed interpretive essay on the means of social control inherent in the system of slavery in imperial Rome....The value of the book comes from the coherence and persuasiveness of [Bradley's] interpretation."--American Historical Review
"An ideal book to recommend to students as an introduction to the controversies and problems of methodology involved in the study of ancient slavery....An excellent introductory survey."--Classical Review
"In compact and accessible prose, Bradley has produced an innovative work of scholarship eminently suitable for courses on the Roman economy, society and the family as well as slavery per se."--Suzanne Dixon, University of Queensland
"will do nicely for an undergraduate one-semester course on Roman history....The book has lots in it and the better students will profit."--Thomas H. Watkins, Western Illinois University