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Document Details :

Title: Epictetus
Subtitle: A Freedman on Slavery
Author(s): HERSHBELL, J.P.
Journal: Ancient Society
Volume: 26    Date: 1995   
Pages: 185-204
DOI: 10.2143/AS.26.0.632414

Abstract :
Slavery in ancient Greece and Rome has been much studied, but often with little attention to Epictetus, a former slave and Stoic thinker whose Diatribesprovide considerable insights into the psychology of enslavement. Although ancient literature usually represents the «views and hopes of the slave owning class», the Diatribesare exceptional when it is remembered that Epictetus was once a slave probably owned by Epaphroditus, a freedman and administrative secretary of Nero, and given Epictetus’ slave origins, it is quite likely that the «tone and temper of his whole life was determined thereby». Moreover, in a recent study of daily traffic in slaves, it has been observed that «personal degradation and humiliation ... emotional and psychological trauma» were some results of slave trade in Roman antiquity, and the brutality of this traffic seems well illustrated by the famous anecdote about Epictetus’ lameness, how his leg was broken by a cruel master.

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