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Average lifespan for people who made it to the age of 10 was 47.5 years.   Say you have a slave who is 45, and is therefore, presumably, something of a banger.

Suppose you are a bit of a bastard and also a tightwad, and  would prefer not to keep spending money on food, accommodation etc for a slave who was frankly always a bit of a lemon.

You aren't allowed to kill them, Hadrian outlawed that.   Your slave has no marketable value.

What do you do?

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king_pellinor
9th Jan, 2016 22:18 (UTC)
Kill them discreetly. Who's going to complain? You can always claim it was an accident, or self-defence, or when trying to run away, if anyone does. If it does stick you'll just pay a bit of a fine anyway.

Or sell them for a pittance to a someone with a mine. Miners die quickly, so they always need new blood.
bunn
9th Jan, 2016 22:26 (UTC)
I think killing them has the potential for causing a lot of annoying paperwork, and might also set you up as the kind of person who takes imperial laws lightly, which would be bad.

Wouldn't it be cheaper to just give them their freedom and tell them to push off?

There are no mines in the immediate vicinity and surely no-one is going to buy a knackered slave that might not even make it to the mine and transport them long distance? That seems uneconomic.
king_pellinor
10th Jan, 2016 10:25 (UTC)
Only if anyone finds out :-)

Anyway, if he dies accidentally while, say, doing some solo whale-fishing, or repairing the bath-house furnace while it's still running, then how is that your fault?

As a general rule, people only make laws against things that people do, so Hadrian telling people not to kill old slaves implies that it was a (perceived) problem up to that point. When a new law comes along banning a well-established practice, what that means for many people (especially people in authority, such as a paterfamilias) is that you just need to be more discreet about carrying on as you always did.

Also: expectancy at 45 is very different from expectancy at 10. A slave who's 45 probably has a reasonable number of years left in him, so in fact it may be that he does have a market value. So even if you think he's a bit of a lemon, you may be able to get someone to take him off your hands.
wellinghall
10th Jan, 2016 10:30 (UTC)
Also: expectancy at 45 is very different from expectancy at 10.

Yes, this.

Edited at 2016-01-10 10:51 (UTC)
bunn
10th Jan, 2016 13:59 (UTC)
Laws: I seem to remember writing an essay on that very subject a lifetime or so ago. As I remember it, there were several reasons given for such laws:

1) People are doing this. It's appalling. We'll make a law to make them stop.

2) People used to do this all the time! It's appalling. We'll make a law to show how much we disapprove although nobody does this nowadays because we know better.

3) Civilised people make written laws. I shall make a written law that affects people's personal behaviour to their dependents! Everyone will understand that I only have to snap my fingers and they are toast.

4) I shall make a written law that would affect people's personal behaviour, if they read it, which I know they won't, but The Future will remember me, and will know how civilised I was!

ISTR that Charlemagne's capitularies were held to fall in to category 4, although I remember not entirely understanding why.

I think Hadrian's law could be 1, 2 or 3, although I'm sure someone has told me very assertively that it's 2) but I don't know how they knew.

Good point on the ages, backed up by that pdf that ningloreth linked below which gives a reference for the price of slaves falling at age 60, not age 45.
bunn
10th Jan, 2016 14:31 (UTC)
I wonder how bodies were disposed of. Surely there would be a cost to that, even for the cheapest methods, you'd have to at least waste time carrying the body out of town and digging a hole.

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