This course will focus on recent scholarly debates regarding the practices of slavery in the Roman empire as part of debates of demography and the ancient economy. In addition, we will consider other forms of un-free labor and recent scholarly assessments of the role of the poor in the later empire. At issue will be a variety of methodological approaches to the phenomenon of slaver: in addition to those regarding the economy we will also examine literary critical and comparative anthropological approaches to Roman slavery. However, primary sources, including papyri, will play the central role. The aim is to gain as comprehensive a picture as possible of slavery and poverty in various geographic regions of the empire, as depicted by different types of sources, and as reflected in the historiographic tendencies underlying the scholarly approaches to the topic to address, finally, the question: what made religions praising self-enslavement to a god attractive and who was attracted?
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