Sunday, May 26, 2024

How Slavery in Ancient Rome Drove Farmers to Poverty

 From The Collector:

In the 2nd century BCE, rapid socio-economic change was afoot for the plebeian farmers of the Roman Republic. According to the traditional historical narrative, these citizen farmers, who owned family-run smallholdings, were overburdened with military duties during the period of the Second Punic War onwards. No longer able to effectively run their farms, they were displaced by wealthy landowners who established large agricultural estates worked by slaves. This led to an exodus of now landless farmers who became destitute proletarii in urban Rome. Plebeian farmers were the backbone of the Roman Republic. By the late 6th century BCE, after the last Etruscan king of Rome had been overthrown, the young Roman Republic had become a state largely populated by citizen smallholders of the plebeian class. These smallholders were at the heart of Rome’s agricultural output, but they also served in the military and participated politically as citizens.

 The Romans grew a variety of grains including wheat and barley as well as legumes like lentils, beans, peas, and chickpeas. As in neighboring Greece, the Romans also cultivated olives and olive oil constituted an important part of the Roman diet. From their neighbors, the Greeks and Carthaginians, the Romans also learnt much about viticulture and began to make their own wine. (Read more.)


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