How to Manage Your Slaves
Authors: Marcus Sidonius Falx with Jerry Toner (Foreword by Mary Beard)
Publishing Date: 2015
Edition: Paperback edition
Publisher: Profile Books
Number of pages: 216
My rating: *****
Synopsis: At last, a clear manual for managing slaves the Roman way. In How to Manage Your Slaves, Roman noble and slave owner Marcus Sifonius Falx (with the help of Cambridge University classicist Jerry Toner) offers practical answers to every question you could have: where and how to buy slaves; how to tell the good ones from the bad; when to let your slaves have sex with each other and whether to engage in sex with them yourself; and when, perhaps, to set them free. Armed with this guide you will be master in your own home: your household will be a comfort to your family, its running the envy of your neighbours.
Slavery was a core institution in the Roman world for all its long existence. This Roman’s-eye view lets us understand just why slaves meant so much to the Romans.
I was looking around Waterstones and this book caught my eye. I must admit I’m not a big fan of historical fiction (I know, I know, an ancient history student who doesn’t like historical fiction…) but I couldn’t resist in reading this one! I love the way it’s so funny! It does a very good job in putting the reader in the shoes of an upper class citizen of Rome and gives you an insight into what life would be like when it comes to owning slaves. It has a bit of a commentary in the end of every chapter which is quite cleverly done: it is not annoying like footnotes and you only really need to read it if you want to know the context of parts of the chapter, further reading and for any additional information that didn’t really fit the chapter such as the servile wars, and the continuous references, the character makes, to the ‘troublesome slave called Spartacus’ (also a good movie to watch… the 1960 version I mean).
I’ll try not to spoil it too much but I love things like the way you are introduced to the reasoning behind the book – for a roman-born citizen it would’ve been strange for a society to not have slaves. So when he met someone from such a society, he realises that he must educate him in how to get slaves, how to train them and the precautions to take when handling them.
Overall, I really found it entertaining and I would definitely recommend it to anyone, even if you aren’t a big ancient history fan, it is still a good read just to get an idea of what slavery was like back then!