Who were the slaves at Pompeii?

Pompeii was once a prosperous city before its tragic demise. A popular holiday spot for wealthy Romans and an important transit point for merchandise arriving by sea. Glamorous fashion and adornments were used commonly, with marketplaces, bathhouses, and brothels lining the cobblestone streets. Despite the city’s overall beauty, the reality of the unprivileged members of society was quite ugly. Within ancient times, 30 per cent of the population of Italy were slaves, with Pompeii having a higher average due to its trading.

Who were the Slaves?

There was a range of different ways to become a slave. Offspring of slave mothers were automatically condemned, with some bred in the city specifically for the role. Abandoned children, which was high, were picked up off the streets. War-captives were very common, as well as criminals from various wrongdoings. Ethnic origin also played a part as Slave dealers were required to provide proof of the ethnicity of their stock. Certain nationalities, such as Greek, were preferred slaves and were commonly used as a tutor for children. This brought a great status symbol to any particular household who owned a Greek slave.

The Type of Slaves

Due to lost records, there is quite a lot of mystery involved with the Pompeii’s salves. Historians have drawn on literature, law, and art to bring the Pompeii’s slaves out of the shadows. They ranged from sex workers, household servants, to concubines. Sex workers were very common, with a number of brothels flooding the area. Although most of the remaining Pompeii frescos depicted on the brothel walls illustrate the services to be an erotic and exotic treat, the reality was very different. The rooms doubled as cells for the workers, so small they only fit one single stone bed. Households salves were used for a number of jobs, acting as cleaners, cooks, and sometimes tutors. Cruelty may have differed according to the owners, with skilled individuals helping in their master’s business offered more freedom, compared to others who were chained.

Where you can see them

Take a step back in time in the frozen city. Visit the ancient buildings, see the historic artefacts, and even marvel at the body casts of past people. Slave history can be seen throughout the city, so you only have to join a tour and learn all about the city’s heartbreaking past.

Check out the Pompeii Tour from Rome today!