Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 18, No. 2 (November 1996), pp. 591-598


When one looks at Roman slave law from an Anglo-American perspective, what is striking is the apparent disinterest or lack of concern in the subject on the part of the state and the corresponding freedom of action allowed to slave owners. My claim is not that there was little law--indeed there was a great deal--but that the state did not get overly involved in laying down what owners could do with their slaves. For instance, though law decreed the methods by which slaves could be freed, the state imposed very few restrictions on manumission. This is all the more striking in that manumission gave citizenship as well as freedom. Roman citizenship was highly prized, giving economic advantages as well as status.

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