I do not condone slavery in any of its insults to humanity. But slavery is a fact of history and I, a writer of Ancient Rome, must deal with it. In fact, use it. It is a fact of life to, at least, make it as acceptable as possible. My characters do not insult them with beatings or sexual depravity as did happen to many slaves of this time…as, in fact, throughout slavery’s history. Julius sees his slaves as friends and enjoys their companionship. And it seems to be returned.
I find this concept a conundrum as I research every aspect of this amazing world. Slavery was the norm. You knew when conquered, you were now a slave. It was a choice of life…you became a slave or you died—or more accurately, were killed. And with that understanding, you became a possession to be used accordingly. No one liked it, but that was the facts…then as now. You survive.
In some cases, it was a blessing. Slaves were fed, clothed, housed, and, in some cases, very well so. The imperial slaves certainly did enjoy their prestige over lesser slaves of Rome, even over slaves of the rich senators. Their arrogance was thick. They gloated in it.
Slaves were well-educated so they would not be an embarrassment. They learned a different style of life that was far beyond what they had endured. My family history dates back to France therefore, my ancestors could have easily been enslaved by Julius Caesar himself and shipped back to Rome. Oh, the wonders they must have seen, going from a dirty existence of Celtic farming to the grandeur of Rome with all its complications, all its different foods, and needless to say, its wine.
What is ironic was that some slaves lived better as a slave than free. Common people of Rome often starved in the streets or lived in filthy apartments that were prone to fire. In some cases, some welcomed becoming a slave to a good-hearted dominus or domina. Children were even sold to them in order for them to survive. Yes, there were kind ‘masters’ in Rome’s world. Compassion is not unique to today.
But as a writer I have to say, slaves are convenient–always there and unseen. And I do enjoy the challenges of making this life interesting, to say the least. Lugh is arrogant and insulting. Akim is astute and wise. Julius’s other slaves enjoy their responsibilities as caring for Julia and impressively serving Julius and Domitia’s guests as my plot twists beneath their care. I assure you that respect is granted generously…if Caesar allows it.