Friday, July 16, 2021

Slave Collars in Ancient Rome

 From JSTOR Daily:

Among the most fascinating relics of ancient Roman culture are “speaking objects,” a broad category of artifacts bearing inscriptions written in the first person, as if the object itself is addressing the viewer. Tombstones asking passersby to stop and contemplate life are one classic example; also common are personal items such as wine cups inviting drinkers to have a good time. In stark contrast are “speaking” slave collars dating to the fourth and fifth centuries CE that are inscribed with variations on the phrase “Hold me! I have run away.”

Classicist Jennifer Trimble explains why these speaking objects are so fascinating. Although they “make visible the lives of some of the most invisible people in the historical record,” she writes, the collars’ first-person inscriptions often say where and to whom the wearer should be returned—presumably not what someone hoping to escape slavery would choose to say with their own voice. (Read more.)


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