Spotlight Lecture

Slavery in the Roman World – Wednesday 10 February

Wednesday 10 February


With Dr. Eireann Marshall

So much of Roman world was built by and/or managed by slave labour. The magnificent buildings from Imperial Rome, as well as those which are found in every city in the Roman empire were constructed by means of the vast army of slaves which was essential to the development and maintenance of cities. While the lives of most slaves must have been difficult, some fared well and were able to pay for their freedom because they played important roles in trading and developed business acumen.

By the time of the eruption in AD 79, many of the grand tombs we see in the necropoleis of the Vesuvian cities commemorated freedmen who had made a fortune through trade and were eager to display their status. The Bay of Naples provides interesting insights into the lives of slaves. It is the background of the most famous depiction of a freedman, Trimalchio, whose characterisation by Petronius underscores not only how wealthy some freedmen could become but how reviled their tastes were. In Pompeii, freedmen such as the Vettii were able to build a grand house on the back of the money they earned through trade, just as the freed slave Numerius Popidius Ampliatus showed off his wealth by restoring the Temple of Isis, an act which saw that his 6 year old son, Numerius Popidius Celsinus, be made a decurion. Eighteen tablets found in the House of the Bicentenary in Herculaneum gives us one of the most remarkable insights into slavery. These tablets record a riveting lawsuit in which Petronia Justa tried to confirm her status as a free-born woman.

Slavery, an anathema to the modern world, was central to the Roman world and this lecture, using exclusive footage of Rome and the Vesuvian Cities, will explore its contradictions and heart-breaking realities.

Spotlight Lecture

Lasting 60 minutes plus a live Q&A session, our spotlight lecture offer a focussed study of aspects found in art, history and literature while combining our exclusive filming, advanced visual aids and the enthusiastic expertise of our lecturers.

Your Lecturer

Dr Eireann Marshall

Dr Eireann Marshall is a Research Associate and Associate Lecturer with the Open University. She has published a number of articles on Ancient North Africa, and co-edited volumes on 'Death and Disease in the Ancient City' and ‘Women’s influence on Classical Civilisation’. Eireann has led many tours for specialist tour operators, to Italy and North Africa. In 2019 she was awarded Wanderlust Magazine's Top History & Culture Guide at its World Guide Awards.

Event Details

Date: 10 February 2021

Start time: 18:00 GMT

End time: 19:00 GMT

Venue: Zoom Lecture


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