(1) Every community that is governed by laws and customs uses partly its own particular law and partly the law common to all mankind. For whatever system of justice each community establishes for itself, that is its own particular law and is called 'civil law' as the law particular to that community (civitas), while that which natural reason has established among all human beings is observed equally by all peoples, and is called 'law of nations' (jus gentium) since it is the standard of justice which all mankind observes. Thus the Roman People in part follows its own particular system of justice and in part the common law of all mankind. We shall note what this distinction implies in particular instances at the relevant point.
(8) The system of justice which we use can be divided according to how it relates to persons, to things and to actions. Let us first see how it relates to persons.
(9) The principal distinction made by the law of persons is this, that all human beings are either free men or slaves.
(10) Next, some free men are free-born (ingenui), others freedmen (libertini).
(11) The free-born are those who were free when they were born; freedmen are those who have been released from a state of slavery.
(12) Freedmen belong to one of three status groups:they are either Roman citizens, or Latins, or subjects (dediticii). let us examine each status group separately, starting with subjects.
(13) The Lex Aelia Sentia requires that any slaves who had been put in chains as a punishment by their masters or had been branded or interrogated under torture about some crime of which they were found to be guilty; and any who had been handed over to fight as gladiators or with wild beasts, or had belonged to a troupe of gladiators or had been imprisoned; should, if the same owner or any subsequent owner manumits them, become free men of the same status as subject foreigners (peregrini dediticii).
(14) 'Subject foreigners' is the name given to those who had once fought a regular war against the Roman People, were defeated, and gave themselves up.
(15) We will never accept that slaves who have suffered a disgrace of this kind can become either Roman citizens or Latins (whatever the procedure of manumission and whatever their age at the time, even if they were in their masters' full ownership); we consider that they should always be held to have the status of subjects.
(16) But if a slave has suffered no such disgrace, he sometimes becomes a Roman citizen when he is manumitted, and sometimes a Latin.
(17) A slave becomes a Roman citizen if he fulfils the following three conditions. He must be over thirty years of age; his master must own him by Quiritary right; and he must be set free by ajust and legitimate manumission, i.e. by the rod (vindicta) or by census or by Will. If any of these conditions is not met, he will become a Latin.
(18) The condition about the age of the slave first appeared in the Lex Aelia Sentia. That law does not allow slaves below thirty to become Roman citizens on manumission unless they have been freed by the rod after a council (consilium) accepted there was just reason for the manumission.
(19) A just reason for manumission exists when, for example, a man manumits in the presence of a council a natural son, daughter, brother or sister; or a child he has brought up [ahimnus = foundling], or his paedagogus (the slave whose job it had been to look after him as a child], or a slave whom he wants to employ as his manager (procurator), or a slave girl whom he intends to marry.
(20) In the city of Rome, the council comprises five Roman senators and five equestrians; in the provinces it consists of twenty local justices (recupertores) who must be Roman citizens, and meets on the last day of the provincial assizes; at Rome there are certain fixed days for manumissions before a council. Slaves over thirty can in fact be manumitted at any time; so that manumissions can even take place when the Praetor or Proconsul is passing by on his way to the baths or theatre, for instance.
(21) Furthermore, a slave under thirty can become a Roman citizen by manumission if he has been declared free in the will of an insolvent master and appointed as his heir [i.e. to take over the liabilities:the heres necessarius] , provided that he is not excluded by another heir.
(22)... [persons who do not fulfil the conditions for full citizenship] are called 'Junian Latins':Latins because they are assimilated to the status of those Latins who lived in the ancient colonies; Junian because they received their freedom through the Lex Junia, since they were previously considered to have the status of slaves.
(23) But the Lex Junia does not give them the right to make a will themselves, or to inherit or be appointed as guardians under someone else's Will.
(24) When we said that they cannot inherit under a Will, we meant that they cannot receive anything directly as an inheritance or legacy; but they can receive things by way of a trust (deicommissum).
Digression - Dediticii
(25) But those who have the status of subjects cannot receive anything at all by Will, no more than any foreigner can, and according to the general opinion, they cannot make a will themselves.
(26) The lowest kind of freedom is therefore that of those whose status is that of subjects; and no statute, Senate Recommendation or Imperial Constitution gives them access to Roman citizenship.
(27) They are even banned from the city of Rome or anywhere within the hundredth milestone from Rome, and any who break this law have to be sold publicly together with their property, subject to the condition that they must never serve as slaves in the city of Rome or within a hundred miles of Rome, and that they must never be manumitted; if they are manumitted, the law stipulates that they become slaves of the Roman People. All these provisions are laid down by the Lex Aelia Sentia.
(28) But there are many ways in which Latins can become Roman citizens.
(29) First of all there are the regulations laid down by the Lex Aelia Sentia. Anyone under thirty who has been manumitted and has become a Latin; if he marries a wife who is either a Roman citizen or a colonial Latin or a woman of the same status as himself, and this marriage was witnessed by not less than seven adult Roman citizens, and he has a son; then, when that son becomes one year old, he has the right under this law to go to the Praetor (or in a province the governor) and prove that he has married in accordance with the Lex Aelia Sentia and has a year-old son.
And if the magistrate to whom the case is taken declares that the facts are as stated, then both the Latin himself and his wife (if she is of the same status) and son (if he is of the same status too) must be recognised as Roman citizens.
(30) (I added the phrase 'if he is of the same status too' with respect to the son because if the wife of a Latin is a Roman citizen, then her son is born as a Roman citizen, in accordance with a recent Senate Recommendation proposed by the Divine Emperor Hadrian.)
(31) Although the Lex Aelia Sentia only gives this right to acquire Roman citizenship to those who were less than thirty years old on manumission and thus became Latins, this was later extended to persons who were over thirty on manumission and became Latins, by a Senate Recommendation passed in the consulship of Pegasus and Pusio [early in the reign of Vespasian].
(32) But even if the Latin dies before he has been able to establish that he has a year-old son, the mother can prove it, and if she was previously a Latin she will thus become a Roman citizen herself. Even if the son is a Roman citizen already, because he is the child of a mother who is a Roman citizen, she still ought to prove his case; for then he can become the natural heir (suus heres) of his father.
(32a) What was said regarding a year-old son applies equally to a year old daughter.
(32b) Furthermore, under the Lex Visellia, anyone who has become a Latin through manumission, whether he is over or under thirty, acquires the full rights of a Roman citizen if he has completed six years service in the vigiles (police) at Rome. It is asserted that a Senate Recommendation was later passed granting citizenship on completion of three years' service.
(32c) By an edict of Claudius, Latins also obtain full citizen rights if they have built a sea-going ship with a capacity of not less than 10,000 modii of corn, and that ship, or its replacement, has been used to bring corn to Rome over a period of six years.
(33) Furthermore, it was enacted by Nero that a Latin who owned property worth 200,000 Sesterces or more and built a house in the city of Rome on which he spent not less than half his property, could obtain full citizen rights.
(34) Finally, Trajan enacted that if a Latin kept a mill going in the city over a period of three years, grinding not less than 100 modil of corn daily, he could acquire full citizen rights.
(35) Persons who are over thirty when manumitted and have become Latins can obtain full citizen rights by having the ceremony of manumission repeated; so can those manumitted below thirty, when they reach that age. In every case a Junian Latin over thirty, whose manumission is formally repeated by the man who has Quiritary ownership over him by the ceremony of the rod, the census or Will, becomes a Roman citizen and the freedman of the man who performed the second manumission. Consequently: if you hold the right to use a slave (possessio), but he belongs to me according to Quiritary law, then he can be made a Latin by you, acting alone; but the second manumission can be performed only by me, and not by you as well, and as a result he becomes my freedman. Even if he attains the full status of a Roman citizen by any of the other procedures, he still becomes my freedman. On the other hand you are given possession of any property he leaves behind when he dies, whatever the way in which he had obtained full citizen status. But if he belongs to the same owner both by possession and according to Quiritary law, he can become both a Latin and a full Roman citizen by a single act of manumission.
Restrictions on Manumission
(36) Not everyone who wishes to manumit is legally permitted to do so.
(37) A manumission made with a view to defraud creditors or a patron is void; the liberation is prevented by the Lex Aelia Sentia.
(38) The same Lex also prevents an owner under twenty from manumitting, except by the rod and after a council has accepted that there is a just reason.
(39) Just reasons for manumission exist where, for instance, someone manumits his father or mother, or his paedagogus, or someone who has been brought up with him. But the reasons instanced above for the case of slaves manumitted when under thirty can be put forward here too; and conversely, those mentioned in the case of an owner under twenty may also apply for a slave under thirty.
(40) The result of this restriction on the freeing of slaves by owners aged under twenty imposed by the Lex Aelia Sen tia is that, although an owner who has reached the age of fourteen can make a will and institute an heir and leave legacies, if he is still under twenty he cannot give a slave his freedom.
(41) And even if an owner under twenty wants to make his slave a Latin, he still has to prove before a council that there is a just reason, and only afterwards may he manumit the slave informally in the presence of his friends.
(42) The Lex Fufia Caninia [2 BC] set an additional restriction on the manumission of slaves by Will.
(43) Those who own more than two and not more than ten slaves are allowed to manumit up to half the number; those who own more than ten and not more than thirty are allowed to manumit up to a third; but those who own more than thirty and not more than a hundred have the right to manumit up to a quarter; and finally, those who own more than a hundred and not more than five hundred are allowed to manumit not more than a fifth; those who own more than five hundred are not given the right to manumit any more - the law forbids anyone to manumit more than a hundred. But if you only own one or two slaves, you are not covered by this law, and there are no restrictions upon your freedom to manumit.
(44) Nor does this law apply to those who free their slaves by some other procedure than by Will. Thus a master manumitting by the rod or by census or informally in the presence of his friends, may set free his whole household, so long as there is no other impediment to giving them their freedom.
(45) What we have said regarding the number of slaves who may be manumitted by Will is to be interpreted in such a way that in a situation where only half, a quarter or a fifth may be freed, there is no requirement to manumit fewer than could have been manumitted under the preceding proportion. This is provided for in the law itself, for it would have been absurd if the owner of ten slaves should be allowed to manumit five (because he may free up to half that number), whiie the owner of twelve should not be allowed to manumit more than four.
(46) [When a Will manumits more slaves than permitted by the law:] If a Will requests freedom to be given to slaves whose names are written in a circle, then because it is impossible to establish any ranking by which some have a greater right to manumission than others, none of them may be set free. This is because the Lex Fufia Caninia makes void any act intended to cheat the objectives of that law. There are also a number of particular Senate Recommendations which make void tricks contrived to evade the law.
(47) In conclusion, it should be noted that the Lex Aelia Sentia forbids manumissions made in order to defraud creditors, and this was extended to foreigners as well, by a decision of the Senate proposed by Hadrian; but the other provisions of this law do not apply to foreigners.
Types of Dependence
(48) We now come to a second distinction made by the law of persons. Some persons are independent agents (sul juris) and some are dependent on the rights of another (alieni juris).
(49) Furthermore, some of those who are in a condition of dependence are in another's power (potestas), some in their hands (manus) and some in their ownership (mancipium).
(50) Let us now look at persons who are in a position of dependence; for when we have established what sort of people these are, we shall be able to see who are independent agents.
(51) And first let us consider those who are in another's power.
(52) Slaves are in the power of their owners. This power is derived from the common law of nations, for we can see that among all nations alike owners have the power of life and death over their slaves, and whatever is acquired by a slave is acquired on behalf of his owner.
(53) But nowadays neither Roman citizens nor any other people who are subject to the sovereignty of the Roman People have the right to treat their slaves with excessive and unreasonable brutality. For a Constitution of the Divine Emperor Antoninus orders anyone who kills his own slave without due reason to be brought to justice in exactly the same way as one who kills another's slave. Excessively harsh treatment on the part of owners is also limited by a Constitution of the same Emperor; for when certain provincial governors asked him for a ruling regarding slaves who had taken refuge at the temples of gods or statues of emperors, he declared that owners were to be forced to sell their slaves if the cruelty of their behaviour appeared to be unbearable. In both cases he ruled justly, for we ought not to misuse our rights - that is the ground for interdicting those who waste their own property from administering it.
(54) Now since there are two kinds of ownership among Roman citizens - slaves may belong to their owners by possession or by Quiritary right, or both - we say that a slave is in the power of an owner who has possession over him, even though he may not belong to the same man by Quiritary right. For someone who simply has the title to Quiritary ownership of a slave cannot be said to have power over him.
(55) Similarly in our power are those of our children who are begotten in a recognised marriage; this is a custom peculiar to Roman citizens.
Buying a Slave: Dacian Sales Contracts
Note: In 1855, a number of wax tablets were found at Verespatak in Transylvania, the Roman province of Dacia. They date to the middle of the second century AD, and include a number of documents confirming the sale of slaves (Bruns, 132; for other examples, see L&R II, 52). In accordance with the Roman law of contract (see Crook, Law and Life, Ch. 6), the vendor is associated with a guarantor or 'second vendor' to stand surety for him should the buyer be dissatisfied (in some of these documents, the surety is specified as twice the sale price; see Varro, No.150, 4f. below).
Claudius Julianus, soldier of the century of Claudius Marius in the Thirteenth legion 'Gemina', has bought and taken ownership of the woman called Theudote, or any other name she may have, a Cretan by race, for 420 denaril, apocatam pro uncis duobus [the interpretation of this phrase is uncertain], from Claudius Philetus, with Alexander Antipatris asked to act as guarantor.
This woman was handed over in good health to the above-mentioned buyer. And in case anyone should remove from his possession this woman or anything pertaining to her, with the result that the above-mentioned buyer or anyone else who may be concerned is unable to have use and profit and proper possession of her, the above-mentioned soldier Claudius Julianus requested that in that case he should be given in good faith as much valid money as the value abstracted or taken from that woman or the value of whatever was done that was illegal; and Claudius Philetus promised that it would be given in good faith. Alexander Antipatris stated that he would guarantee it.
And Claudius Philetus said that he had received and had the price of 420 denadi for the above-mentioned woman from the above-mentioned soldier Claudius Julianus.
Done in the Camp of the Thirteenth legion 'Gemina', 4th October in the consulship of Bradua and Varus [160 AD].
Signatures: of Valerius Valens, Thirteenth legion 'Gemina'. of Cineaus Varus. Of Aelius Dionysus, veteran of the legion.
In the mid-first century AD, Columella gave the following advice about the selection of managers and labourers, and their tasks. He also refers to the ideal that a farm should be as self-sufficient as possible (8.8), to the danger that a manager will exploit his position of authority to behave brutally or sadistically (8.10 and 16ff., on the ergastula), and to the incentive of marriage (8.5). He advises masters against letting their managers undertake business deals on their behalf; disagrees with Plato about sharing a joke with one's slaves, at least those one rarely saw (8.15:see No. 80, 265b above). While 8.19 is no evidence for the systematic breeding of slaves in Roman times, it does prove that manumission was not universal, or even normal, for agricultural slaves.
(1) The next thing to consider is which slave to put in charge of which particular office and what jobs each should be assigned to. My first advice is not to appoint as manager one of those slaves who are physically attractive or someone out of the ranks of those who have performed specialised services in the city household. (2) This kind of slave is dedicated to sleep and idleness, and because he has been used to leisure, gymnastics, race-courses, theatres, dicing, wineshops and brothels, he dreams of this nonsense all the time; and when this sort of thing is applied to farming, the owner doesn't just lose the value of his slave, but of his whole property. You should choose someone who has been hardened to agricultural work from childhood and tested by experience. If there isn't anyone like this, you should put someone in charge who is already used to hard work as a slave. (3) He should no longer be a young man, since this will detract from his authority to command since old men don't like to obey some youngster; nor should he have reached old age yet, or he will not have the stamina for work of the most strenuous kind. He should be middle-aged and fit and know about agriculture, or at least be so dedicated that he will be able to learn quickly. There is no point in having one man in authority and someone else to point out what work has to be done, (4) as a man who is just learning from one of those under him what ought to be done and how to go about doing it won't really be able to insist that it gets done. Even someone who cannot read and write can supervise an estate properly, as long as he has a first-rate memory; Cornelius Celsus says that a manager of this kind brings his master money more often than he brings him his accounts; because he is illiterate he can't cook the figures 50 easily, and he won't dare to do so through a confederate who would know exactly what was going on. (5) Whomever you appoint as manager, you must allocate him a woman to live with him and keep him in check and also to help him in various things. The manager should also be told not to be on particularly good terms with any one of the slaves on the farm, let alone with anyone from outside. But occasionally he should confer a mark of distinction on any slave whom he sees working hard, and dedicated to the jobs assigned to him, by inviting him to eat with him on a feast day. He must not make any religious sacrifices except if the master has told him to. (6) He must not let fortune-tellers or sorceresses onto the farm; both of these types of silly superstition cause unsophisticated people to spend money and result in wrongdoing. He should not spend his time in the city or at markets except to buy or sell something which concerns him. (7) As Cato says, the manager should not go out a lot; he should not go beyond the boundaries of the estate except to find out about some agricultural technique, and even then he should only go to places from which he can get back [on the same day]. He must not allow any new tracks or paths to be made on the estate; and he should not receive anyone as a guest unless he is a friend or close relative of his master.
(8) Those are the things he must be told to avoid; and he must be urged to make sure that twice as many metal tools and instruments are kept stored away in good condition as are required by the number of slaves, so that nothing will ever have to be borrowed from one of the neighbours; for the expense in terms of the slave's labour being lost outweighs the cost of providing such extra equipment. (9) He should dress and clothe the slaves in a functional rather than an attractive way, so that they are protected against storms, frost and rain; long-sleeved coats, patchwork cloaks and hoods afford protection against all of these. If they have these, the weather will never be so bad that there isn't some work they can do out in the open. (10) He should not merely be skilled at agricultural work; he should also have such personal qualities -insofar as this is possible in a slave-that he will exercise his authority neither carelessly nor brutally, and should always be giving encouragement to some of the better slaves, and should not be too hard on those who are less good, so that they will fear him for being severe rather than hate him for being cruel. He will achieve this if he keeps watch over those under his authority so that they never do anything wrong, instead of behaving in such a way that he has to punish delinquents as a result of his own incompetence. (11) There is no better way of controlling even the most worthless man than by insisting that he does his work, and that what is due should be completed; and by insisting that the manager is always at his post. In that way those who are responsible for particular jobs will be keen to carry out their tasks properly, and the other slaves will be so exhausted by their work that they will be more interested in rest and sleep than in fun and games.
(12) I approve of several excellent ancient precepts which are now no longer practised - that a manager should not ask one of his fellow-slaves to do anything for him unless it is on the master's business; that he should take all his meals in the presence of the slaves and should be served with the same food as they. In this way he will make sure that the bread has been baked properly and that everything has been prepared hygenically. He should allow no one to leave the farm unless he has sent him himself, and he should not send anyone away unless it is absolutely necessary. (13) He should not do any business for himself and should not use his master's money on deals involving animals or anything else, as this sort of dealing distracts the manager's attention and will make it impossible for him to settle his accounts satisfactorily with his master because he will have stock instead of money. In general, you have to make absolutely sure that he does not think that he knows what he doesn't know, and that he should always try to learn about things he is ignorant of. (14) It is good to do something knowledgeably, but it does much more harm to do it wrongly - for there is one single basic principle in agriculture, which is to do whatever needs doing just once; since everything has already been ruined if there was a mistake due to ignorance or incompetence which had to be put right, and things will not grow again later in such a way as to restore what was lost and produce profits to make up for the losses of the past.
(15) These are the rules which should be adhered to with regard to the other slaves; I do not regret having followed them myself. One should address those rural workers who have not behaved improperly in a friendly way more frequently than one would one's urban slaves. When I realised that such friendliness on the master's part relieved the burden of their continual labour, I often joked with them and allowed them to joke more freely. What I do quite often nowadays is discuss some new piece of work with them as though they were more knowledgeable than I am, and in this way I can find out what each one's attitude is and how intelligent he is. And I've noticed that they are much more willing to start a piece of work when they think that they've been consulted about it and that it was actually they who first suggested it.
(16) There are some things that every careful man recognises:that he must inspect the slaves in the farm prison (ergastulum) to check that they're properly bound and that the actual building where they are kept is sufficiently strong and whether the manager has either tied anyone up without the owner's knowledge or set him free. For the manager has to be absolutely obedient both in not setting free without the owner's permission anyone whom he has ordered to be punished in this way, and in not setting free before the master has found out about it anyone whom he has decided to chain up on his own initiative. (17) The head of the household should inspect this type of slave correspondingly more carefully, and make sure that they are not being maltreated as regards clothing and other rations, in proportion as they are under the control of a greater number of superiors - managers, foremen and prison-keepers - and are more vulnerable to suffer injustice, and also become more dangerous if they have been badly treated as the result of anyone's sadism or greed. (18) That is why the master should ask both them and those who are not chained up (since these are more likely to be trusted) whether they are being treated in accordance with his instructions, and he must himself taste their food and drink to see that it is acceptable, and check their clothing, their fetters and their footwear. He must frequently give them an opportunity to complain about anyone who makes them suffer as a result of cruelty or dishonesty. I personally will sometimes punish those responsible for justifiable complaints in the same way as I will severely punish those who incite the slaves to disobedience or criticise their overseers slanderously; and conversely I will reward those who work hard and diligently. (19)1 have also given the mothers of large families - who ought to be honoured when they have had a certain number of children - freedom from work and sometimes even manumitted them when they had raised several children. If there were three children, they were exempted from work, if more, they got their freedom in addition. [This page has been interpreted as evidence of systematic breeding of slaves in Roman times.] If the head of the household behaves justly and carefully in this way, he will find that his patrimony increases greatly. (20) He should also remember to worship the farm gods whenever he arrives from the city on a visit; and if there is time, he should start his tour of inspection at once, or otherwise on the next day, and visit every part of his estate and try to work out how much discipline and supervision have declined as a result of his absence, and whether there are any vines, trees or crops that are missing; and he must count his cattle, his slaves, the farm tools and the furniture. If he has made a habit of doing all these things over a period of many years, then discipline will remain good when he reaches old age, and, however infirm he becomes with the years, he will never be scorned by his slaves.
(Ch. 9.1)1 should also say something about the kind of physical and mental faculties appropriate to each particular job. We should put men who are hard-working and utterly abstemious in charge of the flocks and herds. Each of these points is much more relevant to this particular job, since they will have to be continuously on the look-out and very skilled. (2) Intelligence is a necessary, but not a sufficient, quality for the ploughman, if a loud voice and large physique do not give him the necessary authority over his oxen. But he must be gentle as well as powerful; if the oxen are both to obey his commands and not be worn out by their work and by being beaten, and thus survive for longer, then he must terrify them rather than be brutal to them. I will deal with the tasks of shepherds and cowherds in greater detail elsewhere [books 7, 1-7 and 6, 1-26 respectively]. (3) All I want to say here is that strength and physique are irrelevant to these, but essential to ploughmen. Anyone who is particularly tall will become a ploughboy, both for the reason I mentioned just now, and because, of all agricultural activities, ploughing is least exhausting to a tall man, since he is able to stand up straight and rest his weight on the plough handle. A common labourer may be of any height whatsoever, as long as he is able to sustain hard work. (4) Vineyards do not need tall men, but rather broad and powerfully built ones, for they are better at digging and pruning and the other things required here. It is not so important as in other kinds of agricultural work that the men should be honest, since they will be working with others and under supervision; troublesome slaves are also often more intelligent, and this is what is needed in viticulture - the worker shouldn't just be strong, but also have good judgement. That is why vineyards are often worked by slaves in chains. (5) But there is nothing that a good man cannot do better than a bad man if he is as nimble - I have to add that, or someone might think that I preferred to work my land with dishonest rather than honest slaves.
It is also my view that the jobs done by different slaves should be kept separate, so that everyone doesn't do the same thing. (6) That is not to the farmer's advantage:no one thinks that any particular job is his own responsibility, and when he does work hard the advantage is everyone's and not specifically his, and as a result he avoids whatever work he can. And when work done by many has been done badly, it is impossible to identify who was responsible. That is why ploughmen must be kept distinct from vintagers and vintagers from ploughinen and both from ordinary labourers. (7) You should also form groups of not more than ten men each - our ancestors called them decuriae and were very much in favour of them, since it is particularly easy to keep watch over this number of men, while a larger crowd can escape the control of the overseer as he leads the way. (8) So if you have a large estate, you must assign these groups to different sections of it, and the work must be distributed in such a way that the men will not be on their own or in pairs, since they cannot be supervised properly if they are scattered all over the place; and conversely they must not be in groups of more than ten, since individuals will not consider that the work has anything to do with them personally if they are part of a large crowd. This system will induce them to compete with each other, and also identify those who are lazy. When a job becomes more interesting because there is an element of competition, then it will seem to be fair that those who don't pull their weight should be punished, and no one will complain about it -