Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Labor economy ...

... Peter Stothard on Tools of the Trade. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For thousands of miles around the Roman Mediterranean, foreign slaves were as much a part of the landscape as the fields and farms on which they worked, their presence as undisputed as sea, clouds, and mountains. Anyone might be a slave or might be free. Many in their lifetimes would be both. It was a matter of mutable fortune, part of the conditions of life for rich and poor, black, brown, and white, for Germans, Africans, and Gauls, a status so ubiquitous and little challenged that it leaves a huge challenge now to anyone who wants to comprehend it. Poetry and pottery, theater and history books can all play their variously deceptive parts in our imaginations. None gives a picture that is complete.

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