Capitalizing on the rich historical record of late antiquity, and employing sophisticated methodologies from social and economic history, this book reinterprets the end of Roman slavery. Kyle Harper challenges traditional interpretations of a transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages, arguing instead that a deep divide runs through 'late antiquity', separating the Roman slave system from its early medieval successors. In the process, he covers the economic, social and institutional dimensions of ancient slavery and presents the most comprehensive analytical treatment of a pre-modern slave system now available. By scouring the late antique record, he has uncovered a wealth of new material, providing fresh insights into the ancient slave system, including slavery's role in agriculture and textile production, its relation to sexual exploitation, and the dynamics of social honor. By demonstrating the vitality of slavery into the later Roman empire, the author shows that Christianity triumphed amidst a genuine slave society.
Kyle Harper is Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma, where he teaches a range of courses on Greek and Roman civilization and the rise of Christianity. He has published articles on social and institutional aspects of later Roman history in the Journal of Roman Studies, Classical Quarterly and Historia.
Part I. The Economy of Slavery: Introduction; 1. Among slave systems: a profile of late Roman slavery; 2. The endless river: the supply and trade of slaves; 3. Oikonomia: households, consumption, and production; 4. Agricultural slavery: exchange, institutions, estates; Part II. The Making of Honorable Society: Introduction; 5. Semper timere: the aims and techniques of domination; 6. Self, family, and community among slaves; 7. Sex, status, and social reproduction; 8. Mastery and the making of honor; Part III. The Imperial Order: Introduction; 9. Citizenship and litigation: slave status after the Antonine constitution; 10. The enslavement of Mediterranean bodies: child exposure and child sale; 11. The community of honor: the state and sexuality; 12. Rites of manumission, rights of the freed; Conclusion: Roman slavery, proto-modernity, and the end of antiquity; Appendices.