BOOK REVIEW | The Roman Guide to Slave Management

REVIEW | The Roman Guide to Slave Management: A Treatise by Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx by Jerry Toner
Review by Mark David Major

According to the book blurb, “The Roman Guide to Slave Management, is a sly, subversive guide to the realities of servitude in ancient Rome. Cambridge scholar Jerry Toner uses (Marcus Sidonius) Falx, his fictional but true-to-life creation, to describe where and how to Romans bought slaves, how they could tell an obedient worker from a troublemaker, and even how the ruling class reacted to the inevitable slave revolts. Toner also adds commentary throughout, analyzing the callous words and casual brutality of Falx and his compatriots and putting it all in context for the modern reader.”

This is an interesting, well-researched albeit pseudo-historical handbook about slavery in Ancient Rome. The author, Jerry Toner, is oddly self-conscious throughout this book that Modern readers might accidentaly misconstrue him (through his fictional narrator, Marcus Sidonius Falx) as an advocate of slavery. I am not aware of any large, vocal, pro-slavery constituency out there these days. What is really interesting about the Roman approach (as opposed to the Ancient Greeks or U.S. Southern Confederacy) is how the Ancient Romans used the institution of slavery as a tool of (admittedly, very slow) social mobility for the assimilation of large populations into the Roman citizenship (slave>freedman>citizen>aristocracy) using a patronage system under the umbrella of the family household. If you are interested in Ancient Rome, then this is worth the read. If not, then you are likely to find it a very strange read indeed. Mark’s Grade:

The Roman Guide to Slave Management: A Treatise by Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx
by Jerry Toner
Paperback, English, 240 pages
The Overlook Press, 2016
ISBN-10: 1468311727
ISBN-13: 978-1468311723

You can purchaseThe Roman Guide to Slave Management: A Treatise by Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx on Amazon here.


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